Thinking About: Glossophobia

If you have watched TV this month, especially the first few rounds of the MLB playoffs, you are probably familiar with this ad for the Nexus 7 tablet. While the ad campaign began this summer with a longer spot, it has been during the fall that the campaign really began to take root influencing search behavior.

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Using the wonderful Google Trends tool, it’s easy to take a quick look back in time to get a perspective on how successful the ad has been. I don’t know about you, but I did not know the term glossophobia before seeing the ad. Thankfully for the star of the promo, he happened to know the term that described his affliction but not necessarily what it meant. Or he just enjoyed hearing the definition again.

Regardless, glossophobia existed as something of an online footnote over the last several years.

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However, the results really picked up in September and October. For anecdotal reference, there were ten MLB playoff games aired from October 3 to October 6, where the glossophobia search reached its peak.

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Will the ad campaign translate into sales? Maybe. The Nexus 7 is a nice tablet in my experience. At the very, Google has funded an educational campaign that taught people that glossophobia is the fear of speaking in public.

Play It Again, Samsung

Samsung has launched an ad campaign for their smart watch, the Galaxy Gear. And from the ad, you might think this watch is about to make your dreams come true.

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qeJKax2CU&w=420&h=315]

Yes, fictional character have used this technology for decades. A watch that can display information beyond time, act as a communication device, and, if you’re James Bond, a laser, is a nice idea. But one that was really fulfilled by the smartphone.

Much as we look back at television shows like Seinfeld, which existed before the cellphone became commonplace, and discover plot holes that would easily be solved with a call or text while on-the-go, the futuristic watches from TV turned into smartphones in reality.

On TV, no one has a problem talking to their devices in front of, well, whoever is around. Characters have no qualms about their conversations being audible for anyone close by.

All the interactions a user has with a smart watch are out in the open. We have a communication device that works this way: the walkie-talkie.

Having used Glass for a few months, having a wearable device replace my phone definitely feels like something that could happen in the next few years. Especially with a device like the iPad Mini or Nexus 7 as a “main” portable machine that could be around for tasks that currently fall to a 4 inch or greater phone.

Who Will Be the Comeback Players of the Year?

Each year two players, one from the American League and one from the National League, are honored as Comeback Player of the Year.

Whether the player is returning from injury, illness, or ineffectiveness, each winner has overcome a hurdle of some sort and reversed their fortunes from the previous year.

As the season winds down, a few candidates in each league have separated themselves from the pack.

American League

The AL crop of players this year could probably include the entire Boston Red Sox lineup and rotation, but John Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Shane Victorino have put themselves ahead of the pack.

Former Red Sox Victor Martinez returned to the Tigers after missing all of 2012 – and picked up where he left off with the bat. And of course Mariano Rivera, after missing most of last season, decided to have an elite season on his way into retirement.

After the 2012 season, despite not throwing a single pitch, John Lackey was not a popular man in New England. Saying that Lackey struggled since arriving in Boston (ERAs of 4.40 in 2010 and 6.41 in 2011) would be an understatement. Even factoring in his injury, which ultimately required Tommy John surgery, 2013 was expected to be a return to 2008-2009 Lackey.

That wouldn’t do for the big right hander. Lackey is 9-12 due to bad luck in terms of run support, but his 3.56 ERA is his best mark since 2007. Lackey is striking out batters at a higher rate (7.6 K/9) than any year since 2006 and is issuing walks at the lowest rate (1.9 BB/9) of his career.

Ellsbury entered 2012 with expectations running high. His MVP caliber season the year before looked like his entrance into superstardom. But a fluke shoulder injury resulting from a collision with Reid Brignac altered his season considerably. Even when he took the field, his performance was disappointing.

Turn the calendar to 2013 and Ellsbury was back to his old tricks: he’s leading the league in steals with 52, hitting .299/.355/.424, and playing excellent defense in center field. As a free agent to be, the timing is perfect for him in terms of negotiations. The one thing not going his way: Ellsbury has been sidelined since Sept. 5 with an injured foot.

Shane Victorino looked bad in 2012. His .255/.321/.383 combined performance with the Phillies and Dodgers was the worst of his career. When the Red Sox handed him a 3-year, $39-million deal in the offseason, there were worries that the Sox had signed a free agent after a down year in his early 30s who might not bounce back.

Once again, the Red Sox got everything they expected, and more, from their player. Victorino entered play Tuesday hitting .294/.352/.454 with 21 steals and 14 home runs. He’s missed some time with some small injuries and has been battling a sore hamstring limiting his ability to switch-hit, but it hasn’t slowed him down.

Victor Martinez missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL and with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera already on the team, looked like he might be the odd man out while fighting for playing time because he would essentially be limited to DH. After a big first year with the Tigers in 2011, .330/.380/.470, it was an open question how Martinez would bounce back.

Through May 31 the former catcher had an OPS under .600. It looked like Martinez would be in store for a disappointing season. He had other plans: a .334/.387/.473 line since June 1 would be enough to raise his batting average to .298 entering play on September 17. In May, a .300 batting average for the season looked unlikely, now, it is within reach.

What can you really say about Mariano Rivera? After missing most of the 2012 season he’s come back for a retirement tour pitching better than many ever do at their peak. His 2.30 ERA is the sixth worst of his career. He made his thirteenth All Star Game. And he has 43 saves. It’s like he didn’t miss any time at all.

National League

The NL has fewer major comeback stories. Some that were expected, like the return of Tim Lincecum, didn’t occur as planned, but there are a couple guys who stand out.

Francisco Liriano has had a strange career. He was dominant during his rookie campaign in 2006, teaming up with Johan Santana at the top of the Twins rotation before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. Liriano wasn’t himself again until 2010, but then fell apart in 2011 and 2012.

When he joined the Pirates over the winter it looked like a good depth move for a team looking for veteran innings, and a move to the NL can do wonders for a pitcher. Liriano took that as a challenge and has posted the second best ERA of his career, 2.92, has struck out a batter per inning, and after two years of 5.0 BB/9 has scaled that down to a more reasonable 3.6.

Troy Tulowitzki played in just 47 games in 2012 and wasn’t at his best when he was on the field. Losing a player like Tulo is tough for any team, but for the Rockies, losing half of the very productive Tulo-CarGo tandem was brutal.

Healthy again, Tulowitzki has hit .315/.388/.539 entering September 17. While the Rockies are currently in last place, they are part of essentially a three-way tie for third in the NL West with the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. The speed isn’t there anymore, Tulo has just one steal, 22 home runs by a Gold Glove shortstop is always a nice thing to have.

2014

Looking forward, who might headline this list next year?

Could it be a pair of Angels, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and a third baseman looking to rebuild his value on a one-year deal in Chase Headley? Will an offseason cure C.C. Sabathia of his troubles this season?

It’s tough to predict MVPs ahead of time but Comeback Player of the Year might be just as tough, even with the head start of knowing who performed poorly.

Cross-posted at The Sports Post

How Will Jacoby Ellsbury Fare as a Free Agent?

Jacoby Ellsbury made his major league debut on June 30, 2007 to give Terry Francona and the Red Sox some flexibility in center field with a banged up Coco Crisp trying to avoid the disabled list.

The rookie would eventually overtake the veteran, even getting playing time in the Red Sox World Series run. Ellsbury is approaching free agency at the end of this season and his career so far has been a journey of highs, lows, and a few injuries.

How does he compare to the recent crop of elite outfielders?

For Ellsbury’s first three seasons in Boston he was a gifted athlete who sometimes needed more work on his routes, but was a threat on the base paths.

In 331 games from 2007-2009 Ellsbury hit .297/.350/.414 with 129 steals, leading the league in 2008 and 2009 with 50 and 70 steals, respectively.

Mike Cameron was brought in in 2010 to provide veteran insight into the center field position after Coco Crisp was traded, shifting Ellsbury to left, but a collision with Adrian Beltre would limit Ellsbury to just 18 games that year.

In 2011, Ellsbury was back and better than ever: .321/.376/.552 with 39 steals and 32 home runs. After hitting a total of 20 home runs in the major leagues to that point, Ellsbury found his power stroke. He won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and finished second in MVP voting.

With just two years remaining until free agency, Ellsbury looked like a player in his prime who might have just added a new aspect to his already strong game.

Unfortunately 2012 would be another injury-plagued season. In 74 games Ellsbury would hit just .271/.313/.370 with only four home runs and 14 stolen bases. In a season where everything that could go wrong for the Red Sox did, Ellsbury’s injury and step back in performance hurt a bit more.

With just two years remaining until free agency, Ellsbury looked like a player in his prime who might have just added a new aspect to his already strong game.

His 2013 reversed the tide: .299/.355/.424 with a league-leading 52 steals before fouling a ball off his foot and not appearing in a game since Sept. 5. He’s only hit 8 home runs this year, but with 31 doubles and 8 triples, has recovered the value he had outside of his MVP-caliber season in 2011.

As a fast, Gold Glove center fielder and an elite leadoff hitter, Ellsbury, even with an injured foot, is among the premier free agents this fall.

Johnny Damon, to whom Ellsbury has drawn many comparisons, hit free agency at 31 before signing a 4-year, $52 million contract with the New York Yankees.

Until that point in his career, Damon had hit .290/.353/.431 while averaging 12 home runs and 26 steals per year. Ellsbury’s career .297/.350/.438 line compares quite favorably to the sought-after leadoff hitter, and Ellsbury just turned 30 on Sept. 11, so he hits free agency a little earlier.

Of course, salaries for MLB players aren’t exactly what they were in the winter of 2005 when Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees.

B.J. Upton signed a 5-year, $75.25 deal with the Atlanta Braves last year. With the Rays, Upton averaged .255/.336/.422 with 20 homers and 39 steals per year. There were ups and downs: Upton hit over .273 just once and totalled 20 home runs over two full seasons in 2008 and 2009. He posted his best OPS (.894) in 2007 and hasn’t came within 100 points of that mark since.

To make matters worse, Upton has been dreadful this season, hitting under .200 and finding himself on the bench at times even as the Braves cruise to victory in the NL East. Ellsbury hasn’t had the consistent power of Upton, but his skills are more well-rounded and he has never had the low seasons Upton has in his career.

Another center fielder signed this past offseason as well: Michael Bourn. A late signing by the Cleveland Indians, Bourn has been a speed-first player throughout his career. Bourn lead the league in steals three times from 2009-2011 and has averaged 49 steals per season during his career.

Again, Bourn is not a perfect match for Ellsbury because while Ellsbury has maintained a slugging percentage over .400 in three seasons, and .394 in a fourth, Bourn has little power to speak of, slugging just .362 in his eight-year career.

Which brings us to the target Ellsbury and his agent, Scott Boras, will likely try and compare him to: Carl Crawford. Crawford turned 29 in August of 2010, the year he hit free agency, so he was actually a year younger than Ellsbury when he signed a 7-year, $142 million dollar deal with the Red Sox.

The difficulty for Ellsbury in comparing him to Crawford, who was a .296/.337/.444 hitter coming off a career year, comes from the latter’s power and durability.

During his nine years in Tampa Bay, Crawford hit double digit home runs six time, hitting 15 or more on four occasions. While he was known for his speed, stealing at least 46 bases seven times, Crawford also brought some power. Sometimes, as with his triples, his speed and power worked together, letting the left fielder collect double-digit triples five times.

The difficulty for Ellsbury in comparing him to Crawford, who was a .296/.337/.444 hitter coming off a career year, comes from the latter’s power and durability. Crawford played at least 151 games six times in Tampa. Ellsbury has accomplished the feat just twice.

Crawford also has the stigma of being overpaid. When the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers, it wasn’t because they were desperate to move their first baseman, but to move what had quickly become a massive overpayment to Crawford.

In a relatively healthy 2013, Crawford has hit .280/.330/.395 with 5 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 108 games. While this production is valuable, the cost of $20 million is not in line with the production.

Ellsbury is an interesting player to hit free agency. He has shown legitimate power, elite speed, the ability to hit for average, defense, and patience, but not all at the same time. Recent free agents like Crawford and Upton have seemed like good signings, only to quickly lose value.

The Red Sox will certainly make Ellsbury the $14 million qualifying offer this winter and may even make a sizeable contract offer to their leadoff hitter.

While Ellsbury has missed time with injuries, he’s had broken bones and collisions take him off the field, not nagging soreness in a hamstring or shoulder, so he might actually be a more durable player going forward who simply has had bad luck.

Depending on how the market reacts to Ellsbury’s career numbers, and whether he is able to make a strong return this season from a broken bone in his foot, will decide how much and for how long the outfielder is signed.

With a low end of Bourn and a high of Crawford, Ellsbury may have a lot of negotiations before he finally chooses his next team.

Cross-posted at The Sports Post

Ubaldo Jimenez’s Comeback Gives Hope to Cleveland

In 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez made his name in the baseball world with a breakout season. Even more surprising, he was a dominant pitcher on the often pitching-troubled Colorado Rockies.

He was an All-Star, finishing third in NL Cy Young voting, and even picked up a few MVP votes.

The four-year, $10 million (before his options were exercised) deal the Rockies signed their young pitcher to before the start of the 2009 season looked brilliant. Colorado had found the ace who could lead them back to the World Series.

When 2011 began, Jimenez started slow, allowing at least four earned runs in five of his first nine starts after doing so just eight times the previous season. By the trade deadline he was a Cleveland Indian.

In the 2011 and 2012 seasons the former ace had a 5.03 ERA, a falling strikeout rate, and was handing out more walks than earlier in his young career. Instead of taking more steps forward, he was regressing.

2013 started out as more of the same. However, since the All-Star Break, Jimenez has been a different pitcher: 1.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, and a 3.35 K/BB ratio. Opposing batters are hitting just .221/.290/.331 against him in the second half. The Indians are just 5-5 in his second-half starts, but by allowing just 16 earned runs in 12 games, Jimenez has given his team a chance to win when he’s taken the mound.

Since the All-Star Break, Jimenez has been a different pitcher: 1.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, and a 3.35 K/BB ratio.

The $8 million team option for 2014 looked like a complicated calculation entering this year but now looks like it might be off the table entirely – for different reasons.

As a term of his contract, Ubaldo’s right to void the 2014 team option came into play when he was traded. Rather than make the Indians decide if spending $8 million for one year is a better choice than the $1 million buyout, he can simply elect to be a free agent.

On a one-year deal for $14 million deal, this winter’s qualifying offer level, Jimenez might be welcomed back to Cleveland without hesitation. Should he be seeking more, given that the club added Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to long-term deals last winter, the price may just be too high.

By rediscovering his ability to strike people out, Jimenez has returned to providing top-of-the-rotation production. There’s a good chance that he is the Indians’ game-one starter in the playoffs.

In the end, the Indians have fared quite well. The prospects sent to Colorado, a package lead by Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, have not fared as well as the player they were traded for. Pomeranz and White have combined for just 57 major league starts in parts of three seasons with a combined ERA over 5.00.

After winning 90 games in 2007 and 92 in 2009, the Rockies have had just one winning season, 2010, in the last four years. With Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez still signed for the long-term, the Rockies can build around their stars. They could even reach out to their former star in the offseason to orchestrate a reunion.

Cross-posted at The Sports Post

Did the Baltimore Orioles Have a Successful Season?

The Baltimore Orioles won just 69 games in 2011. Thanks in part to a strong bullpen and a breakout season by Adam Jones, the Birds upped their win total to 93 in 2012 and lost the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees in five games.

Coming off the heels of their first postseason berth in more than a decade, Orioles fans were rightly excited for baseball to resume this spring. Would the team build on its 93 wins and second place finish in the AL East? Would the club prove that they were real competitors, not just a flash-in-the-pan aided by a Red Sox team that turned out to be a punching bag?

Bullpen

The Orioles famously went 29-9 in one-run games in 2012, a tremendous feat for any team. Even with a strong bullpen that sort of record is heavily aided by luck. Small victories are difficult to pull off, which is why so many teams build around the closer as the one guy they trust to protect a lead when it counts.

Orioles’ closer, Jim Johnson, saved 51 games last year, leading the league in saves, while Brian Matusz emerged as a weapon out of the bullpen as a lefty specialist. Essentially every move Buck Showalter made with his pitchers worked as well as he could have hoped.

Fast forward a year and Jim Johnson, while still very good, blew 9 saves on his way to a second-straight 50 save season.

Orioles magic in one-run games evaporated. Going 20-31 in one-run games this season, the O’s didn’t have the same type of success as last year. Finishing with an 85-77 record, six games behind the second place Rays, the same number of additional saves blown by Johnson over the 2012 season, and the O’s would have been in the battle royale with the Rays, Rangers, and Indians for the Wild Card.

Rotation

A deep rotation wasn’t a strength of the 2012 team or the 2013 incarnation. Given the margin of their loss, one more good starter could go a long way for the Orioles.

Chris Tillman stepped up in a big way this year throwing over 200 innings of 3.78 ERA baseball. The righty struck out just under eight batters per nine innings and walked three batters per inning. That’s not ace level performance, but over the last few seasons the Orioles have seen Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, and others fail to hang on to a rotation spot, so Tillman is a step in the right direction.

Jason Hammel, last year’s rotation leader, posted an ERA just under five in an injury-shortened 2013 season.

Dylan Bundy, the O’s pitching phenom, who made a brief debut down the stretch in 2012, missed the entire season trying to rehab before sucumbing to Tommy John surgery, putting his future in doubt for the 2014 season as well.

Offense

First baseman Chris Davis did everything he possibly could, and more, by putting up a monster season. 53 home runs, 43 doubles, an OPS over 1.000, 103 runs, and 138 RBI set the pace for the former Rangers prospect. It took Davis a few years to get adjusted to the majors, but when he put things together the result was nearly unbelievable. If he can duplicate even eighty percent of this performance in 2014, the Orioles will be back in the mix for a playoff berth.

Manny Machado, who turned 21 in July, had a big first half (.310/.337/.470) followed by a second half slump (.240/.277/.370). While he ended the season with an injury scare, the hope is that the third baseman escaped with a prescription for rest and rehab rather than surgery.

Conclusion

Was this a good season for the Orioles? Probably. With the emergence of Chris Tillman, the power of Chris Davis, the continued presence of Matt Wieters, and only scratching the surface of what Manny Machado can do, Baltimore is in position to continue building.

Had this season come before the breakout of 2012 things would look better for the fans, but this year’s Orioles were better, but not luckier, than last year’s model.

General Manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have breathed new life into a team that sat along the bottom of the standings for too long. The Red Sox and Yankees aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, and the Rays are too well built to ignore, but the Orioles can use the new playoff format to make their push. And with just a little bit of luck, they might be back in the postseason next year.

 Cross-posted at The Sports Post

How the Oakland A’s Vanquished the Texas Rangers and Won the West

On Sunday, the Oakland A’s topped the Minnesota Twins 11-7 for their 93rd win of the season and clinched first place in the AL West for the second year in a row.

For the first time since a run of four straight playoff appearances ended in 2003, the A’s have reached postseason play in back-to-back years.

The Texas Rangers, preseason division favorites for many, lost to the Kansas City Royals, dropping their record to 84-71. After leading the division for a good portion of the year, including Sept. 1, a 5-15 month has put Texas in a battle for the Wild Card. For the second straight season, the Rangers have collapsed down the stretch.

While these two teams did not look evenly matched on April 1, 2013, despite Oakland’s second half push last year, nobody picked the A’s as the superior team on April 1, 2012. With the Rangers following up back-to-back World Series appearances with two straight September collapses, what happened in the AL West to change these team’s fortunes?

Oakland

The Oakland A’s have taken a lot of grief from opposing fans and members of the media over the last decade because of Moneyball. Every time an A’s player doesn’t walk it seems like someone is ready to make a snarky comment.

What’s missing in people’s assessment of the team is that the full title is Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Moneyball strategy is a way to combat a low payroll with moves, whatever they may be, that could improve the team for an affordable price.

One tactic used in the book that was repeated in 2012 was trading a closer, in this case Andrew Bailey, for players that were less replaceable. Last year that player was Josh Reddick. Reddick broke out in 2012 with a 32 home run campaign.

Similarly, Brandon Moss, in just 84 games launched 21 homers. Combined with Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes and a solid starting rotation, the A’s were able to outlast the Rangers, taking the division on the last day of the regular season, their only day in first place in 2012.

This year holds a similar story in terms of breakout players: Coco Crisp has broken out for a 22 home run season in 2013 after hitting 27 home runs total during his first three seasons in green and gold.

Josh Donaldson, 2007 first round pick of the Cubs, has hit .307/.388/.510 and looked like one of the best third basemen in the game.

Reddick has battled injuries, but Moss has had another solid season as a 29-year-old picked up as a minor league free agent after the 2011 season.

Bartolo Colon, in the season he turned 40, one year after a suspension for PEDs, has put up and ERA under 3.00 for the first time since 2002. Rookie Dan Straily has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seventeen of his first 26 starts this year. Jarrod Parker, who had a brutal April, has pitched to a 3.09 ERA since the calendar turned to May.

The A’s also found a replacement for Reddick deserving of the breakout player of the year honors: Josh Donaldson. The 2007 first round pick of the Cubs, acquired as part of the return for Rich Harden, has hit .307/.388/.510 and looked like one of the best third basemen in the game.

Playing in the same division as Adrian Beltre, that’s saying something. Donaldson has been especially valuable down the stretch, hitting nearly .400 and getting on base half the time he stepped up to the plate. Five of his 24 home runs have come in September and he has scored 19 times in 20 games, his highest total in any month, through Sunday.

Texas

When Josh Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this past winter, the Rangers knew he would be tough to replace. While Hamilton has been a disappointment in LA, the offense he provided during his years in Arlington hasn’t been replaced.

Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and Mitch Moreland have all taken steps back from their performance in 2012. Jurickson Profar, their top prospect and “break glass in case of emergency” player has not yet made an impact at the major league level hitting just .232/.307/.324 while playing third base and left field in addition to his natural position, shortstop.

Nelson Cruz, in the midst of his best year since 2010, was suspended in August as part of the investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami clinic providing PEDs to ballplayers.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, pitching hasn’t been the answer either: Yu Darvish has been excellent as staff ace, but the rotation behind him has not been as impressive.

Adrian Beltre, of course, has remained excellent, hitting .317/.372/.505 and hitting at least 28 home runs for the fourth straight season. But the offense that lead the league in runs last year and hadn’t placed lower than fourth in runs since 2009, finds itself in seventh place.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, pitching hasn’t been the answer either: Yu Darvish has been excellent as staff ace, but the rotation behind him has not been as impressive. Alexi Ogando has battled injuries and thrown under 100 innings, Matt Harrison made just two starts before missing the season with shoulder troubles, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch have combined for 34 low-quality starts, and trade acquisition Matt Garza has an ERA approaching 5.00 since being acquired.

Derek Holland has been OK this year, but the Rangers have lost each of his four starts in September, including two games to Oakland and one to Tampa Bay, their competition in the division and for a Wild Card spot.

While Oakland A’s skipper Bob Melvin may be on the cusp of back-to-back Manager of the Year awards, his counterpart in Texas, Ron Washington could find himself looking for work at the end of the season.

Joe Nathan is having another fine season and heads into the final week of September with 40 saves and an ERA under 2.00. Because he’s the closer and usually saved for games the team is already winning, between Sept. 1 and Sept. 16, Nathan made just two appearances. It’s hard for a pitched to help his team without taking the mound.

Which brings us to what might be a difference maker in the AL West: the managers. While Oakland A’s skipper Bob Melvin may be on the cusp of back-to-back Manager of the Year awards, his counterpart in Texas, Ron Washington could find himself looking for work at the end of the season.

Washington was at the helm for two World Series losses, and now will have overseen two late-season collapses, managing his team right out of postseason discussion.

The Rangers were just one strike away from defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series but let the Cardinals come back to win. The year before they ran into the Giants.

Terry Francona had two World Series rings with the Red Sox, helped break the 86-year championship drought, and oversaw one collapse in September 2011 and then was done.

Ron Washington may not have the rings on his hand, he may not have the most talent, and postseason series are not always won by the best team, but to watch his team enter September competing for the division and fall short, he may not have the benefit of the doubt anymore either.

Cross-posted at The Sports Post