Sully Baseball Podcast: Tony Wolters, Requiem For The Cubs and A Great Opening act – October 3, 2018

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Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

As Vin Scully would say, not a bad opening act for the post season. Tony Wolters becomes the hero and demonstrates why baseball is so wonderful in creating unlikely immortals.

Meanwhile Cub fans will take comfort that hurtful losses like this no longer have the baggage of the Cursed Days of the team.

Turning the page in this episode of Sully Baseball.

While we are at it, enjoy the NEW In Memoriam video.

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Kevin Cash 2016 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for October 21, 2017

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Ever since high school, when I’ve watched the baseball postseason, I have a printout of the active roster of each team.

When each player played, even for an at bat or a pinch running appearance, I would highlight them. Ideally each player would play in each round but at least get in once. It almost seems unfair to be on a postseason roster and not get your name into an October box score.

In 2007, the Red Sox were in the post season. They decided to carry an extra catcher for the Division Series. They had Jason Varitek starting and Doug Mirabelli catching for Tim Wakefield. Just in case of emergency, Kevin Cash was put on the roster.

I wanted to see Kevin Cash get into the game.

Now my desire to see that had little to do with seeing a beloved Red Sox legend get his due. Cash had only played in 12 games for the Red Sox that year. We went 3 for 27 for a .111 average. It was hard to argue that Cash was the difference in the AL East race.

But I loved seeing that page highlighted from top to bottom. Maybe it had to do with my time riding the bench in high school. It meant so much just to get into a game that when I did, I was on a high.

I can imagine it was so much more for the players on the bench.

It was clear that Cash would not be on the ALCS roster if the Red Sox got that far.

Boston took the first two games of the Division Series from the Angels and looked to make quick work in Game 3.

The Red Sox rallied and were up 9-1 in the top of the 9th. David Ortiz’s spot came up. Terry Francona went to the bench and called for Eric Hinske, whose name I highlighted.

In the bottom of the 9th, Varitek was still the catcher. I remember thinking “Too bad for Kevin Cash. He could have pinch hit or caught the last inning.”

He didn’t. He was indeed taken off the roster. The Red Sox would go on to win the World Series. His page on Baseball Reference does not show him playing in the post season. The same fate fell for Kyle Snyder, a reliever who did not get into a game.

The next season, Cash took over Mirabelli’s role as Wakefield’s personal catcher. In the post season, Cash made an appearance in the Division Series and hit a homer in the ALCS. That made up for his exclusion in 2007 a little bit in my eyes.

He joined his Boston manager Terry Francona in Cleveland as a coach. Then, after the 2014 season, he was named Tampa Bay manager.

He received a 5 year contract which seemed off because he had never managed at any level when he had the impossible job of replacing Joe Maddon. The Rays finished barely under .500 in 2015 his first year, 80-82. A 94 loss season his second year reflected a depleted team.

But they contended for the Wild Card for much of 2017. The Rays have young talent and a bright young mind leading the team.

Who knows? Maybe he will MANAGE his way to the World Series and I won’t have to worry about that time I couldn’t highlight his name.

Hall of Fame ramifications for each post season manager

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Getty Images

A World Series title is almost a prerequisite for a manager to be selected into the Hall of Fame. (OK, Al Lopez didn’t win one, but he took the Indians AND White Sox to the World Series while the Yankees dominated the AL, so that was worth something.)

A World Series title does not guarantee a spot in Cooperstown (or even future employment, just ask Ozzie Guillen and Bob Brenly). But a title in 2017 would be a great feather in the cap of each of the October bound managers.

For some, it would be the final tally off the check list.

For some, it would be the first step in a Cooperstown journey.

Two are already off to Cooperstown and a 2017 would be padding their resume.

Let’s look at the skippers.

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Russell Lansford/Getty Images North America

DAVE ROBERTS – DODGERS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?
No, but a Manager of the Year in 2016 and a title this year would be a great start. Remember, EVERY manager who won a title with the Dodgers is in the Hall of Fame (Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda.) He is young and off to a great start.

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

TERRY FRANCONA – INDIANS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

Yes, if he isn’t there already. Winning 2 titles in Boston should have been enough. Bringing the Indians to within one swing of winning last year despite many injuries also should have nailed it. Winning in Cleveland should take away any argument.

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

A. J. HINCH – ASTROS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

No but like Roberts, he is young and getting the title out of the way early can only help. Seeing that he got the Astros to the 2015 post season ahead of schedule helps. Winning 100 games in Houston also helps. Winning a title will be a huge step. Then he will need to have the longevity.

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Bob Levey/Getty Images North America

DUSTY BAKER – NATIONALS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

Believe it or not, YES! Say what you want with his managerial style (I for one have pulled out my hair watching him), but if he wins a title in Washington to go with his pennant and multiple divisions in San Francisco along with post season runs with the Cubs and Reds, it will be hard to deny him.

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JOHN FARRELL – RED SOX

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

No but he would be a strange fluke. He already has a World Series title and two more Divisions on his ledger. But he has as many detractors as he has fans. He would have to start piling up title after title to get consideration. I supposed a second one would have him going in the right direction. It is unlikely at best.

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

JOE MADDON – CUBS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

Yes. He is already in but back to back titles in Chicago would only make it more obvious. The fact that he took Tampa Bay to the World Series and won in Chicago make him a shoo in.

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TOREY LOVULLO – DIAMONDBACKS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

No but a World Series title in his first year managing would be impressive. Any chance at Cooperstown would require multiple titles and getting the first one out of the way doesn’t hurt.

 

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Denis Poroy/Getty Images North America

BUD BLACK – ROCKIES

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

No but his resume already includes winning the 2010 NL Manager of the Year. He would have a more interesting case than you would think at first glance.

 

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AP

JOE GIRARDI – YANKEES

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

It probably should. Two World Series titles plus a Manager of the Year award with Florida make it at least a realistic debate.

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PAUL MOLITOR – TWINS

Would a 2017 title put him in the Hall of Fame?

No BECAUSE HE IS ALREADY IN THE HALL OF FAME!