DECISIONS, DECISIONS

1st world probs: 2 best teams in MLB sh​are same impossible dilemma

How long can the Astros wait for Yuli Gurriel to start hitting? Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

In case you missed it on YouTube, New York sports talk host Don La Greca unleashed an epic rant after a caller said one of La Greca’s comments was “moronic” and a gravy trainer off co-host Michael Kay.

Initially the caller said that the Yankees should, take your pick, trade, bench or cut outfielder Joey Gallo, who’s hitting an anemic .166. La Greca disagreed with the caller. He said that Gallo wasn’t hurting the team, after all the Yankees are leading the American League East by 14 games. So why sit Gallo if the Yankees are winning with him in the lineup?

I’m with the caller – a moronic comment.

You could practically hear the caller shaking his head. The caller then sent La Greca over the cliff by saying La Greca would be a total dud on radio if not for his co-host. That’s when La Greca lost his, ahem, mind and created six minutes of insane radio magic … if you like that sort of thing. I happen to love crazy.

Here’s the video. You won't be disappointed.

We have a similar controversy in Houston without our sports hosts popping a vein in their forehead. What to do about Yuli Gurriel? The Astros veteran first baseman is hitting a puny .230 with only seven homers and 26 RBI. That’s after 80 games and 314 plate appearances, so we’re not talking early in the season and surely he’ll snap out of his batting funk. Gurriel is becoming what the kids call an “automatic out.”

Thankfully, none of Houston’s talk hosts are using La Greca’s idiotic logic that Gurriel’s batting woes aren’t a problem because the Astros are winning and they’re up double-digits over the second-place Mariners.

Sure the Astros are winning despite Gurriel’s frustrations at the plate, but we’re in the dog days of summer when the Astros are playing the Angels, A’s and Mariners over and over. Fourteen of the Astros next 16 games are against those three teams. And didn’t we just get through a series against the A’s? It’s a weird schedule.

But wait until the playoffs, when the Astros will be playing only the top teams in baseball. If Gurriel still isn’t hitting, can the Astros afford to keep him in the lineup? They already have a sub-.200 hitter behind the plate. Two automatic outs may be one too many.

It’s the elephant in the lineup. Is it time for the Astros to cut their losses with Gurriel and give a younger player the rest of the regular season to prepare for the playoffs and next season and the season after that? What do you think? And remember, use your indoor voice.

In case you’re wondering …

Let’s say Gurriel finishes the season at his current .230 batting average. That would be 87 points off his American League-leading .317 from 2021. He still won’t come close to the biggest one-season drop-off for a batting champion.

That unenviable record belongs to former Detroit Tiger first baseman Norm Cash, who won the AL batting crown with .361 in 1961 and followed it with a .243 average next year - a dip of 118 points.

Cash’s 1961 season was one of the best all-around hitting seasons in modern baseball. In addition to batting .361, he belted 41 homers and drove in 132 runs. Cash was money in the field, too, leading the league in put outs at first base.

Cash later admitted that he used an illegal bat in 1961, hollowing out several inches toward the barrel and filling it with sawdust, cork and glue.

That was a pretty wacky year, 1961. Cash hit .361 and Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s homer record with 61 in ’61.

Cash has another record that is hard to imagine happening again. In 1963, he played an entire 9-inning game at first base and never touched a live ball – no assists, no put outs, no errors, no dropped foul balls, no pick offs or pick off attempts.

One more weird stat on Cash’s register: in 1960, he played 121 games, came to the plate 428 times and never hit into a double play.

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