As you may have heard, Julie decided again this year that our loyalty should be auctioned off for the playoffs. But rather than do what we’ve done in the past, Julie decided she’d have a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. I’m happy to say that the goal of $1000 was exceeded, and almost as happy that the Pirates got more votes than the Cardinals. So… let’s go Pirates!
While our track record at picking teams for which to cheer in the playoffs isn’t stellar, the Pirates may have some sticking power. As the wild card, they have to face the team with the best record in the league, which just happens to be the Cardinals. But the Pirates were 10-9 against the Cards this year, so Clint Hurdle isn’t worried about playoff jitters.
“We know them,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “They know us. There won’t be any hidden-ball tricks, I hope. No Statue of Liberty plays. We’ve seen a lot of each other. Our scouts have done a great job. We were prepared in a number of different ways to go if we needed to go. Maybe from that point that we don’t have a lot of playoff experience, that might be a benefit to us.”
And while the Cardinals are the gold standard for National League organizations, Neil Walker says the Pirates won’t be intimidated.
“It’s no secret this organization [the Cardinals] has been the model for success over the past several years,” Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said. “In our organization, they’ve tried to develop that, too — the pitching-first mentality, the defense, the grind-it-out offensive approach. Certainly, they’ve been successful for so many years because of all those things. We’ve played very good baseball ourselves this year.”
Back to the Cubs for a moment – in case you missed it, Ken Rosenthal reported that A.J. Hinch is on the Cubs’ list of managerial candidates.
Hinch played from 1998-2004 with the Athletics, Royals, Tigers and Phillies, and compiled a career .219 batting average. He never played at Wrigley Field, but he did manage five games there after taking over for Bob Melvin as the D-backs manager in 2009. At that point, Hinch had never managed or coached at any level. He was fired on July 1, 2010, following a 31-48 start. He does have a psychology degree from Stanford.
As for his experience, here’s what Theo Epstein said he’d be looking for:
“We’re going to look, first and foremost, at candidates with managerial experience,” Epstein said Monday when he announced Dale Sveum had been dismissed as manager after two seasons. “But I don’t want to rule out a candidate who hasn’t managed but may have demonstrated real leadership over a long period of time in another role as a team leader, in a Minor League capacity, in an executive capacity.
“There are other ways you can show leadership,” Epstein said. “I think the most germane is as a Major League manager. I see no reason to limit our search. Let’s put it this way — there have been first-time Major League managers who are outstanding leaders immediately, as they came in the door.”
But he’d also like someone who understands the North Side:
“Candidates who have Cubs experience in their background will have the built-in advantage of knowing some of the idiosyncrasies of the marketplace and the franchise,” Epstein said. “They might be better equipped in that one area to deal with the gauntlet that can be managing the Cubs.
“Is it a prerequisite, or does it mean that candidates can’t be prepared who haven’t been through here?” he said. “No, but there’s a bit more of an adjustment period as I’ve discovered when you come from the outside.”
But the Yankees aren’t letting go of the most obvious choice, Joe Girardi, without a fight. The intrigue has only just begun.