Anderson: Baseball believes in Jeff Mathis and the hidden value of catchers’ game-calling

From R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports on February 20, 2018:

Game-calling once got Jim Leyritz exiled from the New York Yankees.

The story, as Jon Pessah tells it in his book “The Game,” goes something like this: In the 1996 World Series opener, Leyritz instructed his pitchers to throw fastballs to Atlanta Braves teenage outfielder Andruw Jones — that despite the Yankees scouts warning their battery to approach Jones with breaking and offspeed pitches. Jones homered twice as part of a blowout victory, with Leyritz confessing afterward he had hoped to trick Jones. Yes, both times.

Predictably, mercurial Yankees owner George Steinbrenner did not appreciate the explanation. “I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on scouting, and your dumbass players don’t follow instructions!” he’s reported to have said. Steinbrenner wanted flesh for the folly, and pressured general manager Bob Watson to trade Leyritz that night. Watson did not budge, however, and Leyritz redeemed himself later in the Series with a clutch home run en route to a Yankees title. Watson did relent six weeks after Steinbrenner’s initial demand, sending Leyritz to the Los Angeles Angels for a pair of A-ball pitchers, neither of whom ever donned the pinstripes.

It reasons that if poor game-calling is grounds for banishment, as it was with Leyritz in 1996, then good game-calling should merit a distinction approaching sainthood. Baseball’s recent history suggests teams do believe in the hidden value of game-calling. Witness Jeff Mathis.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 20, 2018. Last Updated: February 20, 2018.