Phillies

Phillies reliever David Robertson blasts cheating Houston Astros

Phillies reliever David Robertson blasts cheating Houston Astros

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Add David Robertson’s name to the list of pitchers who believe they were victimized by the Houston Astros’ cheating scheme in 2017.

“It’s a disgrace what they’ve done and they’re going to have to live with it and everyone knows,” Robertson said on Wednesday.

Robertson enjoyed a brilliant stretch drive for the New York Yankees in 2017. After being traded from the Chicago White Sox, he pitched in 30 games for the Yankees and allowed just four runs.

In the first two rounds of the playoffs that year, he pitched eight innings and allowed just one run.

His dominance that season ended suddenly in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros. He entered with the Yankees down, 3-1, in the bottom of the eighth inning and was torched for four runs while failing to retire any of the four batters he faced. Jose Altuve greeted Robertson with a home run, Carlos Correa doubled, Yuli Gurriel singled and Alex Bregman stroked a two-run double. Houston rolled to a 7-1 win to tie the series and won it the next night. The Astros then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Two years later, it was revealed that the Astros used an illicit, technology-based sign-stealing scheme to cheat their way to the championship.

Details of the scheme cleared up a few things in Robertson’s mind.

“I got roughed up in Game 6,” he said. “And I felt like in that game I threw as well as I’ve ever thrown in my entire life. I had some pitches that got hit that I was a little shocked by and some pitches that didn’t get swung at that I was a little shocked by. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about what we know now. But it all comes together now and, you know, I’m upset about it, that’s for sure.

“I’m never going to get 2017 back. I can’t say moving forward I’ll never get to pitch in a LCS again, but I’ll never get that season back with that group of guys and that opportunity to win a World Series.

“Like I said, I’m still upset about it. I don’t want to say something I’m going to regret but I’m definitely not happy about it.”

Robertson signed with the Phillies before the 2019 season and is currently working his way back from elbow surgery. He is expected to pitch in the second half of the season.

During his time with the Yankees, Robertson was a teammate of Carlos Beltran. Beltran played in Houston in 2017 and was one of the ringleaders of the cheating scheme. It cost him his job as manager of the New York Mets last month.

Robertson said he was surprised by Beltran’s involvement.

“I always respected him as a player, especially being a veteran player on our team when I got a chance to play with him in New York,” Robertson said. “I enjoyed the way he played and the way he went about his business. He’s got to live with it.”

Robertson was asked whether he believed the Astros’ 2017 title was tainted.

“Tough to say,” he said. “I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know which games and what times, I just know that one game I was in, I was really good and I got roughed up pretty hard. We lost every game down there and we won every game in New York. So … that being said, those are the facts I know.”

Robertson lockers just a few feet away from Francisco Liriano in the Phillies’ spring clubhouse. Liriano joined the 2017 Astros in a late-season trade with Toronto. He has heard the talk about the legitimacy of the World Series ring he won with the Astros.

“To be honest, I didn’t know anything about what was going on,” Liriano said. “So, you know, I don’t have much to say about it. I was in the bullpen. I didn’t see anything going on when I was there. I don’t have much to say about it.

“We had some great players, too. It’s just hard for me to say. Because you don’t want to be the team that was cheating to win the World Series. It’s hard for me to say what my feelings are. It’s hard. It’s hard.”

Robertson has not watched any video of the beating he took in Game 6 of the ALCS.

“I don’t want to relive it,” he said.

“I’m upset about it but I’m not going to let it ruin my life. I’m moving forward and trying to win another World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies.”

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MLB's new plan to play by May or June is so crazy it just might work

MLB's new plan to play by May or June is so crazy it just might work

An idea so crazy that it just might work. 

There is a ton to digest in ESPN's report early Tuesday morning which outlined MLB's ambitious plan to potentially play regular-season games in empty stadiums in Arizona by late May or early June.

How?

Coronavirus tests capable of generating same-day results would need to be more widespread and available to MLB in a way that does not "diminish access for the general public," per the report. 

MLB's plan "has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic."

Where?

Under the proposed plan, the entire league would settle in Arizona for the 2020 regular season. Games would be played at Chase Field and at surrounding spring training complexes in the Phoenix area.

Players would be sequestered almost like jurors, able to go to and from the stadium and basically live in a different form of quarantine. They'd be away from their families for a prolonged period of time, which would suck. A lot of us are in this same boat, sacrificing our ability to be with some of our loved ones to keep them safe.

When?

Early June for regular-season games is a target date with teams needing at least a week to 10 days to reach a level of preparedness for the grind. But there is no definitive word as this entire plan is dependent on the availability of COVID-19 tests with rapid turnarounds.

It's also dependent on Arizona not becoming a hot spot. As of midnight Tuesday, there were 2,456 total COVID-19 cases in Arizona, 23rd among U.S. states. 

What if a player tests positive after teams begin working out?

Per ESPN, "officials do not believe that a positive test alone would necessarily be cause to quarantine an entire team or shut down the season."

This is interesting in comparison to the tentative plan in South Korea. The KBO is scheduled to play exhibition games two weeks from today, but former MLB pitcher Dan Straily, now pitching in Korea, told ESPN this earlier in the week:

"If anybody, anybody — if the No. 1 starting pitcher to the person cleaning, security, R&D — anybody gets sick in that time, we postpone two weeks."

In theory, a baseball player in the states who tests positive for COVID-19 after games begin again could be immediately quarantined to mitigate the effects. But how will that play out in practice? Look at how many asymptomatic NBA players unknowingly spread the virus around the league before it shut down. 

One positive test might not be grounds for another shutdown, but what about two? What about three?

The goofiest, BEST proposal

With such close quarters in dugouts, players could reportedly be seated in the stands apart from each other. What a hilarious visual. Picture Bryce Harper hitting a home run and 20 of his Phillies teammates scattered throughout the lower bowl pumping their fists like fans. Add in the potential for more players to be mic'd up and this could turn into a lot of fun.

There are so many weird wrinkles to this plan that you wonder how many elements were floated out by the league to gauge fan and media reaction.

Robo umps?

Convenient excuse to incorporate the electronic strike zone, which is a consideration because of the close proximity between umpire, catcher and hitter.

Would the players agree to all this?

They'll want to get paid. Their 2020 salary is prorated based on the length of the season. Only 4% of player salaries leaguewide are guaranteed in the event of a canceled season.

As cooky as this plan is, it beats no baseball and no paychecks after May.

But what about the lost ticket sales for empty-stadium games?

They could be made up, in part, by amended national TV broadcast agreements. There would be such a massive demand for live sports in early June if baseball is back that money could be recouped in the form of an expanded national TV package and advertising money.

It would be a chance for baseball to take center stage and create so many new fans. Perhaps that could offset or soften a season of lost ticket sales.

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Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

With no baseball games to manage, Joe Girardi is leaning into one of his biggest hobbies.

"I love to cook so I've kinda broadened what I cook," Girardi told Mike Missanelli late last week. "I've been making this Nutella pizza, the simplest thing to make."

Qué?

"You just buy the dough that's pre-made," the skipper said. "You cook it for about seven, eight minutes at 450 (degrees), then you pull it out and you put the Nutella on it and you put strawberries or bananas, whatever you like, and a little powdered sugar and it's a great dessert. 

"The kids absolutely love it. That has been my new thing."

Kind of like a crepe — there's sweet and there's savory. Depending on how much Nutella you slather on there, you're looking at about 500 to 600 calories for one piece and 60 to 70% of your daily sugar intake. Every calorie matters during such a sedentary period! I am not proud to say I gained six pounds in the first three weeks of the quarantine.

Girardi, like practically everyone else, is making the most of the extra family time he's getting with his 20-year-old daughter Serena, 18-year-old son Dante and 13-year old daughter Lena. 

"I find myself cooking every night," Girardi said. "I think I've picked up from a restaurant one time. I love to cook so it works out and my wife loves to clean up so it works even better."

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