Thursday, July 7, 2011

Davey's first squeeze? Maybe not

US Presswire photo
Davey Johnson couldn't remember calling for a suicide squeeze before last night.
Not to spend too much time rehashing the key moment of last night's 5-4 win over the Cubs -- Wilson Ramos' suicide squeeze that scored Michael Morse two pitches after Ramos missed the initial sign -- but this is just too much fun.

After the game, Davey Johnson swore he had never called for a squeeze in his managerial career.

"That was a first," he said. "That was the first time I've ever squeezed in the big leagues. The way we've been going, I figured it might be a good time."

So there you had it. Guess there's a first time for everything. Johnson, at age 68, in his 2,048th game as a major-league manager, finally decided to put on the squeeze.

Except, he admittedly wasn't 100 percent sure of that fact.

"Somebody would have to check the records," he said. "But I think that's the first."

Well, somebody did check the records this morning. And it appears Davey's memory wasn't perfect. has perhaps the coolest subscription-based, statistical feature known to man. It's called the "Play Index" and it basically lets you come up with any scenario or event you can think of and then find out if it's ever happened.

In this case, the research was fairly simple. Look up each of Davey Johnson's teams and compile a list of all those teams' sacrifice bunt attempts for per season. Each instance includes the game's scenario (what runners were on base) and result.

So, here it is. The date: June 30, 1988. The site: Shea Stadium. The situation: Mets lead the Astros, 3-0, in the bottom of the fourth. The bases are loaded. There's one out. Wally Backman is at the plate.

And what happened? Backman bunted to the pitcher and was thrown out at first. All the runners advanced, including Dave Magadan, who scored from third. Backman was credited with a sacrifice.

Had to have been a squeeze, right?

Yes, though there's no way to know from the boxscore whether Johnson actually called for the squeeze or whether Backman did it on his own. And there's no way to know whether Magadan broke for the plate on Danny Darwin's pitch, or whether he just went on contact.

But wait, here's more concrete evidence of Johnson having called for it from the dugout. From an Associated Press article the following morning*:
"Lenny Dykstra singled to start the third and stole second and third before Strawberry hit an opposite-field homer into the left-field bullpen with two out. New York made it 4-0 in the fourth on Wally Backman's suicide squeeze bunt."

Seems pretty clear Johnson called for that one. Unless Backman and Magadan somehow communicated to each other that they planned to try it. But that seems unlikely.

We'll have to present Davey with that evidence before tonight's game and see if it rings a bell. Certainly, the man can't be expected to remember every call he's ever made in his managerial career.

Still, as great a story as it would have been last night had that been the first suicide squeeze of his career, it appears the old dog did not actually learn a new trick. He just forgot he had done it once before.

*-Many thanks to Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post for passing along that excerpt from the AP article after discovering it on a Lexis/Nexis search.


UNTERP.NAT said...

Good detective work, Mark!

Mark'd said...

He meant first time he called the suicide squeeze with a tie game in late innings.

natsfan1a said...

Eh, half the time I can't remember what I had for breakfast. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Is there a limit to the number of times one can vote for Morse for the ASG? I thought it was 25 times. Well, I've been on the site voting for the past 10 minutes straight and I know I've hit the "Vote Again" button at least 250+ times (and still going strong). Am I doing something wrong or is there now a no-limit to the voting? Oh, and I have been typing the correct number verifications in properly

JaneB said...

Great job Mark!

Are you going to the AllStars game for us?

Anonymous said...

There's apparently no limit to voting for the final player. So vote early and very often for the Beast!

JaneB said...

Anon at 11:65, I stopped at 25, though I did it with four addresses. Gonna get on now and add some more! Thanks!!!!

PS... The letters I was to type to post this comment: squeezer. Hilarious.

natsfan1a said...

Anon(s) and JaneB, I've not run up against an online vote limit, and have also used multiple addies. We have 'til 4 PM EST so go for it! :-)

I believe Mark did mention at one point that he would be at the ASG.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Yes, I'll be covering the All-Star Game and the other festivities surrounding it. I fly out to Phoenix Saturday evening and will be on site at Chase Field Sunday afternoon for the Futures Game (featuring Bryce Harper and Brad Peacock). Interviews and Home Run Derby on Monday. BBWAA session with Bud Selig and the actual Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.

Dave said...

So maybe this was the second squeeze Davey called for. Probably the first one in 23 years. That's also cool.

I think the rules for ASG voting are different for the open voting (that you do for a 2-3 of months) than they are for the "short list" that we're voting on now.

Vote, vote, and keep voting!

GYFNG! Vote Morse!

ehay2k said...

Sorry, but that does not sound like a suicide squeeze. For one, the bases were loaded, so all runners had to start advancing on any ground ball.

A safety squeeze would be a lot more likely, and perhaps the batter even called the bunt on his own.

I bet DJ will remember when asked, although it was 23 years ago!

Dave said...

"For a couple of months."

I need to get up from my computer and walk around some.

Drew8 said...

Davey's first squeeze was Mary.

His second squeeze is Susan.

Doc said...

So far I've voted early and often for MM and his ASG selection about 300X.

If Morse gets in, he should consider a career in Chicago politics after he retires.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

On the contrary, ehay--the force at home means it couldn't be a safety squeeze. The runner at third has no option to hold, he has to get there.

Calm in Cali said...

Not sure if this was mentioned, but the guys on MLB Tonight came up with a date pretty quickly on the last time a Davey Johnson managed team executed a suicide squeeze.

I don't remember the exact date or number of games managed between occurrences per their research though. I'm pretty sure they said 800-something games which would have put it during his Reds tenure (around 1994).

Calm in Cali said...

But it does look like B-R proves the MLB Network guys wrong.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Drew8 said... Davey's first squeeze was Mary. His second squeeze is Susan.
But his first suicide squeeze was a mobster's wife in Jersey, according to my highly placed (ok, just high) sources.
Most people's first suicide squeeze is their only one.

MicheleS said...

JaneB.. Not sure if you heard but on 980 just a few minutes ago, Danny was on.. He is great! And he was pumping up Werth. I am sure they will have it on the podcast. And for those of you on twitter (like MarkZ), Danny is on twitter now. So link him up on the twitter feed!

Tim said...

Zuckerman P.I.
Back to baseball... I sure hope it's not Davey's last squeeze attempt. We're a team built on speed and athleticism. Small ball is good. Repeat after me: small ball is good.

(although I'd love to see Werth hit a 3-run jack, or even a double in the gap)

Steve M. said...

Text your Beast Morse vote to 89269
Type in N4

Easiest way to do it! I have a text message ticker on my phone and working on 500 today.

Michael Morse deserves it. I am so sick of the Nats like Ryan Zimmerman not making it last year.

Chris in VA said...

On a side note, I've always been ok with people booing at sporting events. But after being at last night's game I've done a complete 180 (or as George Costanza calls it, a 360).

I thought booing Werth was classless and beneath us as fans. I get it. He makes a ton of money. He's not performing. His defense even seems shaky. Still wrong to boo as a home fan.

I gave him a standing ovation after his sac fly moved Morse up to 3rd. It's little things like that that can start a turnaround. Go Nats!

NatStat said...

@ Tim

I'd love for JWerth to get any kind of hit with guys in scoring position!

I still think that he'll come out of whatever he is doing wrong. Probably start with forgetting the analysis, and picking out a pitch to drive.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Collin Balester was supposed to be reporting to Syracuse today, they said when he was DFAd. With Detwiler staying awhile, is Balester in AAA indefinitely, now?

natsfan1a said...

Ah, I was all ready to post about the texting option, but SteveM beat me to it. Where are all those obnoxious robo callers when you need them? ;-)

natsfan1a said...

In other news, my productivity is taking a real nose dive this afternoon. Luckily, my boss is also a big Nats fan. ;-)

A DC Wonk said...

Chris in VA wrote, about booing one's own home fans: But after being at last night's game I've done a complete 180

Good on you, Chris. I so often hear people defend booing along the lines of: "it's my right". My response to that is: well, yeah, everyone has a "right" to be a complete a@@hole, but that doesn't mean it's "right" to do it.

With that said, I don't mind booing someone who's cheating, or dogging it. But I really dislike booing someone who's obviously trying. It's not his fault somebody offered him $126M.

Steve M. said...

Chris in VA said... On a side note, I've always been ok with people booing at sporting events. But after being at last night's game I've done a complete 180 (or as George Costanza calls it, a 360).

I thought booing Werth was classless and beneath us as fans. I get it. He makes a ton of money. He's not performing. His defense even seems shaky. Still wrong to boo as a home fan.

I gave him a standing ovation after his sac fly moved Morse up to 3rd. It's little things like that that can start a turnaround. Go Nats!

July 7, 2011 1:01 PM

I don't think I would ever boo a "home" player but Nyjer almost got me to that point.

I travel to a lot of road games and I think it was 3 years ago that Jimmy Rollins called Phillies Fans "frontrunners". He was right of course and every time he got up or touched the ball, there was a huge chorus of boos. I remember seeing Werth as a Phillie shaking his head feeling bad for his teammate. In the game I was at JRoll had an error. It was like 40,000 idiots all booing as loud as they could. Heck, I was cheering!

We don't ever want to be like Phillies fans. I hope Nats fans get the reputation of being like Cardinals fans. Knowledgeable, courteous, and true homers!

The other thing I HATE about our local fans is at Caps games where they scream during the Star Spangled Banner "RED" during Rockets Red Glare and some idiots yell "Oh" as if they are at a Baltimore game. I have written to Leonsis to appeal for patriotic respect as I think the team needs to address this stuff which they never seem to do.

Section 222 said...

Great stuff Mark. My only question is are you Woodward or Bernstein. #Squeezegate is clearly worth a Pulitizer Prize.

Anonymous said...

Voted for Morse more than 100 times. Sheesh where all these Victorino people coming from?

Section 222 said...

And while I'm at it, as always, "it's not the crime, it's the coverup."

Anonymous said...

They are coming from Philadelphia where people don't have anything else to do.

natsfan1a said...

Why'd they even put Victorino on the ballot, anyway? There are already a boat-load of Phoollies going to the ASG.

(And, speaking of the Phoolies, I'm with Chris and SteveM.)

JamesFan said...

Werth and many of our hitters look as uptight at the plate as Eckstein who is so intense that he looks like he might explode. Werth is simply not ready to receive the pitch. He isn't focused until the pitch is half way to the plate as he fidgets and fiddles. Every part of his body is moving and there is no rhythm to his approach to the pitch.

Anonymous said...


MicheleS said...

Victorino is from Hawaii.. and they vote like crazy for him.. He may not be able to play anyway.. sprained thumb. I voted a couple of hundred time's I wanted to see MM Hack some Gorse at the ASG!

1A: Feel ya on the productivity.. Luckily for me, I am working from home today. Although.. boss is a big fan, so I would have no worries either!

CBinDC said...

I voted 300 times online and 300 in text how much more should I do ?

Janner33 said...

@Anon: 1.31pm For the most part, Phillies fans are known to live at home even while in their 30s and 40s, so my guess is the votes are coming from their "pad" in their parents' basement.

CBinDC said...

On Werth how about we show we are not Filthy fans and cheer him the next time he goes to bat. Now that would get notice.

Anonymous said...

I can bust out my Werth Jersey (I bought it when he signed) and go out in the outfield and cheer him this weekend! We should all do that

Anonymous said...

"Voted for Morse more than 100 times. Sheesh where all these Victorino people coming from?"

Nationals attendance approx 1.8 million. Phillies attendance close to 4 million at home, God knows how many on the road. Do the math. Phillies fans may be baboons, but they do know how to use laptops and smartphones.

Anonymous said...

@CBinDC: Definitely vote as many times as is possible! Morse deserves that spot.

Anonymous said... as many more as you can! Spent my lunch voting for MM and will squeeze in more this afternoon. He deserves to be there.

As for the comments on booing Werth, I'm with you guys. Somehow I don't think that being booed by his home fans is going to get him out of his slump. Let's be better than that as fans!

Mark - looking forward to your coverage of the Futures and All-Stars. Keep up the great work!

carolync said...

Seriously, does anyone know what happens if Victorino wins and can't play because of his sprained thumb? I have voted for Morse hundreds of times. I sit at the computer until my eyes won't focus on those goofy numbers and then I go back later.

Is there anything we can do to further Danny's chances for ROY? It looks like he is one of the top two candidates along with a Braves closer.

Go, Nats!

Anonymous said...

Espi vs Braves closer for ROY.. the team can hit some bombs off the Braves closer next week when we go to Atlanta!!!

Anonymous said...

If Espy can raise that BA above .260 and the OBP and continue the home run and extra base hits barrage he's a shoo-in. No other platoon bat/switch hitter like him in the mix. And his fielding is gold glove caliber.

SonnyG10 said...

I'm glad to see a lot of posters here showing support for Jayson Werth. I have been so angry with our fans booing Jayson at Nationals Park. Its one thing if a player is dogging it, or is so aloof and self centered he doesn't care about his team, but this is not the case with Jayson. He is trying hard (most probably too hard) to do well and his performance is really eating into him, as you can tell just by looking at him. He needs our support. I'm going to the game tonight and will do my part cheering for him. Go Jayson!!! GYFNG!!!!!

SonnyG10 said...

Last hour. I'm punching in as many N4's as I can. Go Morse!!!

CBinDC said...

If I could go tonight (have to work) I would try to start a LET"S GO WERTH cheer .... time to put the snark and bile away ....leave that for Phoolydelphia ... not here in the DMV

natsfan1a said...

Michele and Carolyn, I think that's what they call "taking one for the team." ;-) Heading back to the voting booth now... (and I was wondering that about Victorino's sprain, too).

Gonat said...

Jose Reyes may be headed to the DL and Troy Tulowitzki has a leg injury. Wouldn't it be nice if Danny Espinosa was added as another middle infielder to the All Star roster!

I hope Davey Johnson has called Bruce Bochy to remind him that Michael Morse has played LF this year as it is quite possible Ryan Braun won't play in the All Star game.

Morse is in the Top 5 of all players in power numbers and Danny Espinosa is the 3rd rated 2nd baseman in the NL.

I believe both are snubs and I realize there will always be snubs when you play on a losing team but guess what? This team isn't a loser right now!

Another side-effect of Riggleman's departure is he would have been an All Star game coach and hopefully would have pushed for Morse and Espy.

Back to punch in more N4s on my cell!!!!!!!

Section 222 said...

If you haven't seen them, check out JibJab's videos on the last ASG roster spot contenders:

I busily texted votes for Morse during a wait at the doctor's office (the best way I have spent such waiting time in history). Unfortunately, in my haste, I voted several times for Shane Victorino. Couldn't they have made someone else N5?

Anonymous said...

It's been hours and no one has mentioned that Dan Steinberg had already researched the squeeze issue?

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, the videos were nice.

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