Wednesday, July 6, 2022

MLB Star Power Index: Why managers should do their jobs on horseback; Rob Thomson’s Phillies win key battle

Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index — a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one’s presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book. To this week’s honorees …

The idea of managing games on horseback

It has long been the official position of this space that major-league managers should do their jobs – i.e., manage baseball games – while on horseback. Much to their diminishment, they are forced to wear the uniforms of players instead of, say, a sealskin greatcoat with inlaid buttons and braided epaulets that’s paired with a plumed full-dress shako hat and brass-buckled knee boots fit for a coronation or the tomb. Alas and alack, they are made to resemble those they command, albeit in doughier form. When leaders look like the led there is necessarily a forfeiture of authority. That can lead to what follows, which is actual footage from an MLB game:

When the commander can rightly be mistaken for the mess-mate, insolence replaces honest toil. This, in addition to the general uplift of baseball consumer, is why managers should manage on horseback. 

As for the laudable specifics, MLB rules shall stipulate that each manager’s horse must be a pearl-colored Andalusian stallion measuring no fewer than 17 hands and loyal and companionable in bearing. The manager and his steed shall be positioned in foul territory along the third-base line upon a small promontory that is twice the height of the pitcher’s mound. The third-base coach shall function as a banner-carrying aide-de-camp who is capable of bugling a rousing Sousa march on command. Surveying play through a pair of telescoping field monoculars isn’t strictly necessary given the modest dimensions involved, but such a flourish is encouraged. Fielders shall be positioned by the pointing of a basket-hilted cavalry sword or rolled-up topographic map. 

At this point, you might be concerned that the horse will be vulnerable to hard foul balls, especially those yanked by right-handed batters. You will be relieved to hear that MLB game-day operations manuals will call for each manager’s steed to be outfitted in 16th-century horse armor inspired by that of Count Antonio IV Collalto (1548–1620) and adorned with full Italian garniture. Now imagine the horse and Kevin Cash atop him showing no hint of reaction when a foul ball clanks off the near-side barding flanchard and echoes throughout a barely populated Tropicana Field. Perhaps the ground rules there will declare a ball to be in play if it hits a horse. 

In any event, the baseball enthusiast may presently be curious as to what all of this might look like, and a web-based application and purveyor of better living through science called DALL-E mini allows us to catch a glimpse of How Things Should Be. 

So what happens when, by way of example you enter the search terms “Joe Torre” and “horseback” into DALL-E mini? This: 

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Joe Torre managing on horseback as all available gods intended DALL-E mini

And this: 

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Joe Torre still managing on horseback as all available gods intended DALL-E mini

Behold the surpassing gallantry. Behold the amplified qualities of leadership. Behold baseball as it should have always been.

Pitching changes, as you would expect, are heralded by a circling of the infield at full gallop, which is performed in the presence of flag-bearers and a fife-and-drum corps. 

And what of fired managers? As punishment for their professional failures, they are barred from gainful employment until they’re able to mount Sugar and remain so for the full duration of a fantasy-camp game with all its attendant miseries: 

On the upside, you get to keep the 16th-century horse armor inspired by that of Count Antonio IV Collalto (1548–1620) and adorned with full Italian garniture.

Rob Thomson, Phillies

Time was when it looked like one of the most compelling races of the 2022 season. By “it,” we of course mean the high-stakes mortal struggle for the Pennsylvania Major League Baseball State Championship. 

The heavily favored Phillies are vying for their fourth straight state title, but not so long ago the upstart Pirates nosed in front. At the close of play on May 31, the Pirates emerged with a one-game lead over the Phillies, and denizens of the Keystone State from Hermitage to King of Prussia stood at rapt attention. 

Then, however, the Phillies made a managerial change, swapping out Joe Girardi for the interim stylings of Rob Thomson. Thomson proceeded to win the first eight games of his tenure, which coincided with a determined round of drain-circling in Pittsburgh. With what are we left? The smoking husk of what was once a righteous joust over the Pennsylvania Major League Baseball State Championship. At this writing, Thomson’s Phils hold a five-game advantage over the Corsairs, and any appraisal of Bob Nutting’s flatulent indifference will reveal that the race is over. 

If not for Rob Thomson’s meddling, this would be the most gripping race in living memory. For these crimes, we present to Mr. Thomson his agreed-upon sanctions: 

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Rob Thomson, saboteur of Pennsylvania baseball intrigue, attacked by horses DALL-E mini

Pennsylvania has not yet fallen, but the Pennsylvania Major League Baseball State Championship surely has. 

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