Though Rocco Baldelli’s time as a player was cut short
01-29-2019, 07:54 AM,
Though Rocco Baldelli’s time as a player was cut short
by physical ailments Will Middlebrooks Jersey , his career in baseball was only beginning to take off.The mind and the heart can be powerful forces.Seeking a fresh voice for their underachieving young players, the Minnesota Twins made the 37-year-old Baldelli the youngest manager in the major leagues on Thursday by hiring a sought-after candidate who interviewed for vacancies with four other teams.The former Tampa Bay Rays player, assistant and coach will be a first-time manager, the first in the major leagues born in the 1980s. He replaces Paul Molitor, who was fired after four seasons with a 305-343 record .“I like to have fun. I like for the players to love showing up to that environment, to that clubhouse,” Baldelli said, adding: “I feel like when guys are relaxed and having fun out on the field, they play their best.”Baldelli spent the last four years on the staff of Rays manager Kevin Cash, the first three as first base coach. His role for 2018 was a newly created position called major league field coordinator, helping Cash and bench coach Charlie Montoyo with in-game strategy, working with the outfielders and focusing on the continued development of the team’s young players. Montoyo was hired as manager Thursday by Toronto.Baldelli’s most recent experience fit perfectly with what Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine sought. They were effusive with their praise of Molitor for his acumen, character and flexibility, but the closest Falvey and Levine came to articulating a specific reason for Molitor’s dismissal when they announced it a little more than three weeks ago was a desire for deeper connections with millennial players in hopes of more productivity on the field.“He connects exceptionally well to people. His humility, his open-mindedness, but also there’s a strong sense of opinion there. He has a lot of ideas as how to help players,” said Falvey, who is just 35.Joined at a news conference at Target Field by his parents Francisco Rodriguez Jersey , two brothers, longtime girlfriend and a close childhood friend, Baldelli won over Falvey, Levine and the dozens of others who met him in the organization with his honesty and affability.“He’s going to meet one-on-one with guys and find opportunities to enhance whoever they are as a player. I think that’s what today’s manager needs to do,” Falvey said. “They need to connect to each player on an individual level.”Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired from the Rays, made an unsolicited endorsement of Baldelli to Falvey after his candidacy was reported.“One thing Jake really said that stood out was players want to come to him to learn about what he’s thinking about their game,” Falvey said. “That’s about as resounding a statement as you’re ever going to hear.”Whether or not the 62-year-old Molitor could have done more, the 2018 season was a mess for center fielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano, the two players long groomed to be the franchise cornerstones. The Twins finished 78-84 after making the AL wild-card game in 2017.The 24-year-old Buxton was again affected by injuries and struggled anew at the plate, so much that he spent the last four months in Triple-A. Though Buxton won a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and has 46 steals in 51 career attempts, his on-base-plus-slugging percentage is just .672 in 306 major league games.The 25-year-old Sano also had a career-worst season in 2018 after making the All-Star team the year before. He spent six weeks in the minor leagues for a midseason reconditioning of his work habits and hitting approach and struck out 115 times in 299 plate appearances with the Twins.Prior to joining the coaching staff with the Rays, Baldelli was a special assistant in the front office of the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2000 out of high school in Rhode Island. Baldelli debuted with the Rays at age 21 in 2003, finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting after batting .289 with 51 extra-base hits and 27 stolen bases. He picked up the nickname “Woonsocket Rocket” for his birthplace city and his speed on the field.The only year as a professional he spent apart from the Rays was 2009, when he played in 62 games for Boston. In 2008, he drove in the go-ahead run for the Rays in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against the Red Sox and homered in Game 5 of the World Series the following week. Injuries hounded him for most of his career, however, and a rare disorder that caused muscle fatigue ultimately forced him to retire after the 2010 season.Baldelli will be the 14th manager for the Twins since the franchise relocated from Washington in 1961 Jake Arrieta Jersey , only their fourth manager since 36-year-old Tom Kelly took over in 1986 and their first manager hired outside the organization since Ray Miller in 1985.Cash, who is 40, is the next-youngest manager behind Baldelli. The Twins under Falvey and Levine over the last two years have dived much more deeply into the data-driven era of the grand old game, with a particular admiration for what the Rays have pioneered. They hired Rays pitching analytics expert Josh Kalk as a senior analyst before the 2018 season, during which the Twins began copying Tampa Bay’s experiment of starting games with relief pitchers to maximize matchup advantages.“The people there have prepared me to do anything, and I feel like that,” Baldelli said. “They’ve counseled me. I’m talking about personal things on top of baseball things. They prepared me in every way to feel confident in myself to go out in the world, whether it’s in baseball or not, and do whatever it is that I want to do.” The St. Louis Cardinals won Game 3 of the 2013 World Series on a walk-off, in the least traditional sense of the term.Cardinals runner Allen Craig got tied up with Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks on his way to the plate. Craig was the winning run, but he was thrown out...except he wasn't.Umpire Jim Joyce called obstruction on Middlebrooks, which meant Craig scored the winning run. Game over."Instinctively, it comes out. It just comes out: 'Obstruction,'" Joyce said after the fact, per's Jayson Stark.The Red Sox went on to win the series, 4-2. But it was a call that confused viewers, sparked debate and ushered in the era of instant replay.No. 8: The 1951 Giants Sign Stealing3 of 10Transcendental Graphics/Getty ImagesThe 1951 season will be remembered for one moment: the shot heard 'round the world.You know the story: The New York Giants engineer a furious comeback and ultimately defeat the rival Brooklyn Dodgers in a three-game series for the pennant on a home run by Bobby Thompson.Close your eyes and hear it: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"Those same Giants would go on to lose in a six-game World Series against the Yankees.The untold story, however Nick Williams Jersey , involved the Giants stealing signs. The allegation has percolated since Thompson's iconic blast and was detailed by the Wall Street Journal's Joshua Harris Prager in 2001.Granted, the Giants' win over the Dodgers wasn't in the World Series, but it got them there. And who knows how much their (ahem) alleged malfeasance contributed to their deep run.No. 7: Kenny Rogers Ball-Doctoring Controversy4 of 10Jeff Roberson/Associated PressIn Game 2 of the 2006 World Series, Detroit Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers twirled eight scoreless innings en route to a Tigers victory. Overall, he threw 23 spotless frames in the '06 postseason.But was his performance dirty?Questions immediately swirled around a mysterious substance on Rogers' hand."It was a big clump of dirt," Rogers told reporters at the time. "I didn't know it was there. They told me about [it], but it was no big deal."Others disputed that explanation."Somebody said they thought they saw pine tar on him," Cardinals second basemanAaron Milestold reporters.ESPN reported that "in starts against both the Yankees and Athletics [in the 2006 postseason], a similar-looking brown substance was spotted on Rogers' hand." Take a look for yourself.The Cardinals won the series in five games, but Rogers' Game 2 dominance will forever be in question.No. 6: Denkingers Blown Call5 of 10Rich Pilling/Getty ImagesIn 1985, the Cardinals led their World Series tussle with the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. In the bottom of the ninth in Game 6, St. Louis was up 1-0.Pinch hitter Jorge Orta hit a bouncer to the right side. He was clearly out鈥攂ut not according to umpire Don Denkinger.The Royals won the game and claimed the series 4-3, making this among the most notorious blown calls in history."If it happened now, they'd review it and overturn it," Denkinger reflected in 2014, per's Doug Miller. "Just like that."No. 5: Burkharts Ball-in-the-Hand Call6 of 10Anonymous/Associated PressIf there was ever an ironclad argument for instant replay, it came in Game 1 of the 1970 World Series.With the score tied 3-3 Tommy Joseph Jersey , the Cincinnati Reds' Ty Cline hit a weak chopper in front of home that was just fair. Bernie Carbo broke for the plate, representing the go-ahead run. Baltimore Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks picked up the ball and slapped on the tag, and Carbo was called out by umpire Ken Burkhart.The problem? Hendricks tagged Carbo with his glove while clutching the ball in his other hand, and Carbo missed the plate.The Orioles won the game, 4-3, and the series, 4-1.Maybe the outcome would have been the same regardless. Then again, maybe not.No. 4: Reggie Jacksons Hip Check7 of 10Associated PressReggie Jackson is known as Mr. October because of his 18 career postseason home runs and pair of World Series MVP trophies.But he authored another, less noble Fall Classic moment.In the 1978 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers were up 2-1 in the series and 3-1 in Game 4. With runners at first and second, Lou Piniella hit a low liner that Dodgers shortstop Bill Russell fielded on a hop.Russell forced Jackson out at second and threw to first, but Jackson's hip got in the way, deflecting the throw and allowing the run to score.Was it intentional? You be the judge.Here's what we know: The Yankees won the game and the series.No. 3: Jon Lester Ball-Doctoring Controversy8 of 10David J. Phillip/Associated PressIn 2013, Jon Lester went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in the World Series as the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in six games.Yet, his iconic output was tainted by accusations of ball doctoring.As's David Schoenfield reported at the time, "There appears to be some pretty strong evidence that in Game 1 of the World Series, [Lester]was applyingsomethingto his fingertips in his victory over the Cardinals, probably to help get a better grip on the ball in the 45-degree weather."Added Schoenfield: "You can see Lester wipe his fingertips inside his glove , where another photo reveals some sort of yellowish-green substance. I mean, it could just be a nervous tic and maybe an optical illusion of some sort. Right. And the Cubs will win the World Series next year."He was off by two years on his Cubs prediction. But his analysis on Lester is legitimate, if inconclusive.No. 2: 1994 Strike Cancellation9 of 10Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesThe 1994 season was shaping up to be a humdinger. The Montreal Expos were on track to make their second postseason appearance in 26 years of existence. San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Williams was in the midst of a credible chase for Roger Maris' single-season home run record.Then, it all came crashing down.A labor dispute between the MLB Players Association and baseball's owners led to a strike. Negotiations stalled. The World Series didn't happen.Technically, it wasn't the first time the Fall Classic was canceled. In 1904, the NL champion New York Giants refused to play the AL champion Boston Americans. At that point, however, the series was in its infancy.By 1994, it was a hallowed event. The strike and subsequent cancellation irreparably damaged the sport. You could argue '94 was the year baseball ceased to be our national pastime.Undeniably, it was the biggest scandal since...No. 1: The Black Sox Scandal10 of 10Transcendental Graphics/Getty ImagesSimply put, there will never be a World Series controversy as bad as the Black Sox scandal.You know the story: In 1919, a contingent of Chicago White Sox players got in bed with a bunch of shady gamblers and agreed to throw the Fall Classic.The series was a sham. The Cincinnati Reds ended up with the mother of all pyrrhic victories. Eight White Sox players implicated in the scheme were banned from the game for life by then-Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.To cite a possibly apocryphal quote from a young boy reported by Charley Owens of the Chicago Daily News, "Say it ain't so, Joe." All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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