Ask Gary: Are Dykstra’s accusations believable?

by Gary Shelton on October 31, 2015 · 1 comment

in Baseball, general, Miami, NFL

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What do you make of Lenny Dykstra stating that he paid $500,000 to private investigators to dig up dirt on umpires prior to the 1993 season?  He links that to the fact that he led the NL in walks in 1993 when the Phillies went to the World Series and was 3rd in the NL in the strike shortened 1994 season.

Scott Myers

I think Lenny is nuttier than Darren Daulton, who is in communication with other planets. He's had quite a rap sheet since leaving baseball.

Still, if you are baseball, the integrity of the game is at stake. And the cops will tell you that you don't find most informants in church. They are dodgy characters.  So you listen. You can't pursue Pete Rose like he was Dillinger and have a deaf ear to Dykstra. What I wonder about him being third is this: Were the 1-2 guys paying even more?

My gut feeling is that Dykstra's full of it. But we know that guys will cut any corner to get an edge. We know that guys will shave points or take PEDs. So why couldn't this

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happen? I think if you work in the front office of baseball, you need to be sure he's full of it. Afterward, you can always dismiss him as a loud loon trying to get attention.

Do you take a stand on the good pitching vs. good hitting argument? Thus far, do the baseball playoffs and World Series support either side? Looks like the Royals are getting both.
 
Barry McDowell
I think it depends on the pitcher and on the hitter. I'm a believer that great pitching usually can stop great hitting. But some hitters are just better than the pitchers they're facing. They can turn the strike zone into a matchbook.
For the most part, though, go with pitching.  The pitcher is the guy who can throw it at any speed, high or low, with any movement. But you're right about the Royals. I've said all along they have the look of champions.
How often does a great pitcher do his job? Seventy percent? Sixty? How often does a great hitter do his? Thirty percent? Less?
I've often wondered about the percentage ratings of quarterbacks I keep reading about. Especially on Monday mornings. I know the standings are based on wins and losses and of course completions to throws have always been there, but the overall ratings percentages seem to be more prevalent. What is the significance beyond the statistics themselves? I know nothing about Fantasy Football. Do the percentages come into play for those games? 
Veronica Richardson
Quarterback rating is just another formula to evaluate quarterbacks. It's based largely on completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and interceptions. But because it doesn't consider things such as third-down conversions, playing on the road, playing good opponents, coming from behind, etc, there have always been efforts to adjust the numbers.
ESPN has one version, championed by Trent Dilfer. Troy Aikman has one. I like the original. It doesn't tell you everything, but most people understand it. I just don't know why 158.3 is a perfect score.
But I know a rating of 100 is pretty good, and one less than 70 is bad.  It's just one more way to judge. If Aaron Rodgers has a slightly higher rating that, say, Tom Brady, there are other things to discuss. But if it says Peyton Manning is far better than Sam Bradford, well, shouldn't he be?
It doesn't have anything to do with fantasy football. Which brings me to this question: If you're going to work up a good fantasy, why waste it on football?

As I understand it, the newest trend in MLB managers is to have people in that position that "work closely" with the front office, to the extent that lineups, batting order, pitching changes and on and on are mostly given to the manager, who is selected for the position because he agrees with this method of running a game. Seems to me that leaves one other job, and that's the clubhouse atmosphere, getting 25 people to work as a team over a long season - leadership. Yet by abdicating so much decision-making to the front office, doesn't that make it terribly difficult to be the leader of the team? I've worked for bosses that did just what they were told by the higher ups, and I never had much respect for them, but maybe that's just me.

Cecil DeBald

It changes from organization to organization as far as how much input a manager gets. His voice is certainly heard when the players are being discussed, and his opinion counts.

But you're right: There is barely any room for an Earl Weaver these days, or for a Billy Martin. A lot of teams attack other teams as an organization now, and much of the game is scripted. A manager knows who his first pinch-hitter is going to be, and who is closer is going to be, before he ever arrives at the park. If you look at the managers of the teams these days, you don't find that grizzled guy who has bounced to five or six teams anymore, do you?

Oh, there are still in-game decisions -- when do you go to the bullpen, for instance. But the old manage-by-the-seat-of-your-pants days are over.

Still, a manager is the guy in the dugout with a player. He's going to be the guy that a player want too trust, not a guy in a suit. He has more interaction with the player than anyone in the organization.

The clubhouse atmosphere aspect is a huge one, though. What do you say to a slumping pitcher? To a frustrated hitter? How do you keep the fourth outfielder happy? It's a vital job. What's the old line about being a manager? That the main job is to keep the players who hate you from pulling down those who think you're okay?

Ok, so Lenny Dykstra is a dirtbag who has no credibility. But the scenario he talked about, umpires being human, digging up dirt on them, letting them know, is at least plausible. These days probably the only thing an umpire could do is shade ball and strike calls, given instant replay. MLB said it's going to look into it. Being ultimately MLB can't do anything much to prevent it from recurring, how should they respond?

Cecil DeBald

If I ran baseball, I wouldn't do a lot publicly. You aren't going to win by debating a guy with Dykstra's rap sheet. This guy knows wardens by their first names.

But privately, you have to treat it like it came from a credible source. Hire your own private investigators. Talk to ex-coaches and teammates. Look at old game films.

Again, we're taking about the game's credibility here. You have to deal with a sleaze bucket when you're talking about these kind of accusations. Heck, Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter aren't where  you go.

Admittedly, Dykstra's life screams for him to be ignored. He has thrown away any bit of credibility he ever had. But if you're baseball, you can't ignore him.

How will Billy Donovan do with the Thunder this year? Will they make the post-season?

They certainly should, don't you think? The Thunder was second in the Northwest last year, and there aren't enough good teams to fill out the post-season bracket.

I like Billy. I think he's a much better coach that he was when he was young, and he'll be a fresh voice in the locker room. There is a genuineness to him that the players will like. He's sterner than some people believe, but he's not unreasonable.

Great players like to be coached. I think Billy will be okay.

When an NFL player goes out of bounds (and is not being pushed back from "forward motion") and the official stops the clock, why does the game clock sometimes restart at the referee's signal while the team is still in the huddle or not even there yet? I thought going out of bounds stopped the clock until the next snap of the ball, period.

Bruce Lowitt

Not quite. You're thinking of the last two minutes of a half when it starts at the next snap. Otherwise, it starts when the officials mark the ball and signal for the clock to start.

That's the NFL. This is the league that where players, coaches and sometimes officials don't know what a catch is. They seem to delight in adding rules.

I was sitting in front of Ruston Webster this year, the general manager of the Titans who used to work for the Bucs. He shook his head at one point and leaned over to me. "The only easy thing about this game used to be the extra point," he said, "and now they've even made that hard."

What percentage of sports fans, when told last April the next World Series would feature teams from Missouri and New York, would have said it would be the Royals and Mets?

Howard Powders

Not many. I think they would have said Cards and Yankees, right?

I had lunch with a Filip Bondy, a writer from the Daily News in New York, during the hockey playoffs. He told me how much more fun the Mets were than the Yankees this year. Now, the Yanks had a good year, but the Mets in the Series is something that would have driven Steinbrenner crazy.

How would Greg Schiano do at UM? I'd think he would have that program going big time. If he goes to UCF I may have to seriously root for that school.

Nick Hollis

I think it will take a special guy to win at UM again. I'm not sure Schiano is that guy. He's been out of coaching for two years, and out of college coaching for four. He was only 68-67 at Rutgers.

The thing is, I'm told that if Schiano didn't go to Rutgers, he would have had the UM job in a year.

The administration at Rutgers loved Schiano. He graduated players, and he made Rutgers football matter. But UM is a different beast. The expectations are 15 years old. Greg was good to me personally. I'd like to see him succeed. But is he special enough for UM?

That's what UM needs. I talked with Fort Lauderdale columnist David Hyde Friday morning about whether the U can be the U again. And he agreed that it was about a special coach who could dominate South Florida recruiting again, who could make the U the place to go. Win, and that dead stadium becomes alive. Is that guy Schiano?

Do you think that Greg Schiano has a good shot at the Hurricanes job?   Will they be relevant again...or are recent times the new normal?
Jim Willson
I'm just guessing, but I think Schiano would be a second-level guy. He isn't Rich Rodriguez or Mario Cristobal. But I think he could be in the next group.
How much will his stint with the Bucs hurt? Maybe not as much as you think. Schiano had to dump his quarterback early in his second year, and that quarterback (Josh Freeman) hasn't exactly panned out elsewhere.
But a coach who was right at .500 in college, who lost in the NFL, isn't going to excite a lot of alumni. At least, not until the winning starts.
I am rather surprised at the hardball the Rays are playing with the city when it is the team asking for a favor.  If things are so bad, why would you not just pay the money and go?  Sternberg is worth $800 million according to Forbes, and he has partners.   Pay the money. You knew the situation when you bought the team.
Jim Willson
Yes, the Rays should be willing to pay. No, they shouldn't just write the city a blank check.
The Rays negotiated a deal with the St. Pete Major. Then the council rejected it and wanted more money. Then even more. If I were the Rays, I would just wait until after the election and see where we were.
Again, there is room to find a right number between the Rays agreement and the Council's offer. Remember, the Rays will STILL be expected to contribute to a new stadium and infrastructure. There is plenty of money to be spend. Yes, they should be a part of it.
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Howard Powders October 31, 2015 at 10:54 am

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I was a rabid Dodgers fan in my youth but after the Dodgers moved to LA, the Mets became the natural successor. They were the team of the common man. I hate the Yankees as I do the LA Dodgers and would root against either team if they ever get to play in the World Series. Thrilled to see the Mets playing well again!

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