Not only is October the best month on the baseball calendar, it’s also the busiest. Besides the playoffs, you have general managers being fired and hired. You have managers being fired and hired. And you already start to hear some free agent and trade rumblings.
This October was no different. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned about baseball in October.
10. Kevin Towers and J.P. Ricciardi Were Let Go
When a team doesn’t win, two things happen. 1. The manager gets fired or 2. The general manager gets fired.
Towers spent 14 seasons as the San Diego Padres’ GM and they have won four division titles and made one World Series appearance (1998) under his stewardship.
I wasn’t in favor of this move when it happened. Towers can be the GM of my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He knows how to get the job done.
Ricciardi was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays after serving as their GM since 2001. The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM.
If you fire someone, then you need a replacement.
9. Jed Hoyer and Alex Anthopoulos Will Be Making the Decisions in San Diego and Toronto
The Padres hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace the above mentioned Towers.
Hoyer joined the Red Sox front office at age 28, where he helped to build Boston’s rosters and assisted in contract negotiations.
In 2005, when Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino had a lover’s quarrel and Epstein took a 10 week hiatus, Hoyer along with Craig Shipley, Bill Lajoie, and Ben Cherington took over the GM duties for the Red Sox.
Anthopoulos takes over for Ricciardi in Toronto on an interim basis.
While Hoyer and Anthopoulos take over as general managers…
8. Manny Acta and Brad Mills Were Hired as Managers
Mills was hired to be the next manager of the Houston Astros. He replaces Cecil Cooper who was fired with 13 games left in the season. Former Astros manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark were finalists for the position.
Mills has spent the last six seasons as the bench coach for Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.
Acta was hired by the Cleveland Indians to be their next manager. The Indians signed Acta to a three-year deal with a club option for 2013.
This will be Acta’s second managerial stint. His first one, as we all know was with the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009. Acta was 158-252 with the Nationals and was relieved of his duties in July.
As manager of the Astros, Mills will be squaring off against this guy in St. Louis…
7. Tony LaRussa Will Be Back as St. Louis Cardinals Manager
The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.
But the big shock was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.
While the Cardinals were making news, the team they beat in the 2006 World Series made news of another kind…
6. The Detroit Tigers Suffered an Epic Collapse
The Tigers had everything going for them headed into the last week of the season. They were playing at home, they were playing a Chicago White Sox team whose season was over, and they were three games up on the Minnesota Twins with four games to go.
Despite all that, the Tigers couldn’t hold on the AL Central lead. The Tigers lost two of three to the White Sox and the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals.
Those results forced this…
5. The Tigers and Twins Played an All-Time Classic
The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four hours and 37 minutes in this epic classic there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.
This game was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.
They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.
This was just an amazing game. A true classic and a game which reminded us what is great about the game of baseball.
The Twins win allowed them to go to the postseason…
4. The 2009 Postseason Has Given Us a Lot of Memorable Moments
Every year the postseason gives us memories that last a lifetime. The 2009 postseason has been no different.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally exercised their postseason demons by beating the Boston Red Sox.
Matt Holliday’s dropped fly ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the NLDS opened the floodgates for the Dodgers.
CC Sabathia finally put his past postseason failures behind him and became worth every penny.
Jimmy Rollins walk-off double off of Jonathan Broxton shattered the dreams of the Dodgers.
Cliff Lee has carried the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff throughout October.
While on one end there is triumph in the postseason, on the other end there is heartache…
3. It’s Been a Rough Postseason for Closers
10 blown saves (the 11th happened on Sunday night) in the postseason by closers through October 31.
Everyone thinks closers aren’t important until they blow a game in a big spot. Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Franklin, and Jonathan Broxton all imploded at one point this postseason.
Only Brad Lidge and Mariano Rivera didn’t blow a save through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s no coincidence that the teams they represent are in the World Series.
While the closers were one story of this postseason, the big story has been…
2. Bad Umpiring Has Plagued the 2009 Postseason
Major League Baseball just can’t win. It’s always something.
This postseason, the umpires have come under tremendous fire for missing calls, which has prompted many to call for more instant replay in baseball.
It seems like every game this postseason the umpires were missing calls. And these weren’t bang-bang calls–these were blatantly obvious calls.
But despite all the bad calls by the umpires, this has been a fabulous postseason. And all roads in the postseason lead to this…
1. The Phillies or the Yankees Will Be World Champions
For the first time in maybe 10 years, the two best teams will be playing in the World Series.
The Phillies took Game One behind a complete game, 10 strikeout performance from Cliff Lee. Chase Utley provided the offense with two home runs off of Sabathia.
The Yankees evened the series at one behind a brilliant performance from A.J. Burnett. Hideki Matsui’s home run off of Pedro Martinez in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie.
The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit thanks to a two-run HR from Alex Rodriguez and some timely hitting by Johnny Damon to take a 2-1 series lead.
It’s very rare a World Series champion isn’t crowned in October, but this is an unusual year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. We will just have to wait to November to crown a champion.
November will be the final month of the baseball season. Come back in December to get a recap of the World Series and all the award winners in baseball.