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Great Moments in Easy Cheap Shots: T.J. Simers Edition

May 15, 2013, 9:13 AM EDT

Mark McGwire

We should probably just call this the T.J. Simers award. But I’m feeling charitable right now and I’m mostly just happy that he’s apparently not lost a single step despite a health scare in spring training. Maybe we’ll name it after him when he retires and gets a little cottage in Misanthropic Acres or wherever he decides to live.

In any event, he takes on Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire today, choosing the most insightful angle possible:

I had never met Mark McGwire before Tuesday night, but I knew of his reputation and the fact he has struck out so far as the Dodgers’ hitting coach. So given the Dodgers’ lack of power, I asked, “Is it time to introduce the players to steroids?” … I remember how much fun it was when Sammy Sosa and McGwire were hitting a lot of home runs. I thanked McGwire for providing those thrills and asked if he could still score some steroids.

I assume some sportswriters will laud Simers for his bravery for that, because the only apparent problem with cheap, low-rent questions among that group is when one doesn’t ask them in person. So good on ya, T.J. Next:

The Dodgers rank third to last in the major leagues in home runs and RBIs, and yet they have a guy who hit 70 home runs as their hitting instructor.

The Tigers lead baseball in offense and Lloyd McClendon is their hitting coach. The Orioles are second with Jim Presley in that job. The Rockies lead the NL and their hitting coach is Dante Bichette. The Reds are second in the NL with Brook Jacoby in charge of the bats. You know, it’s almost as if the hitting coach’s playing career is not a suitable proxy for his success as a coach.

There are interesting insights to be made about the Dodgers’ offensive struggles. Too bad there aren’t any sportswriters in Los Angeles interested in making them.

  1. unclemosesgreen - May 15, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Some guys have a near death experience and realize that they need to address some personal shortcomings and mend some fences before it’s too late. TJ Simers is in a different camp – the one where you realize that you aren’t throwing quite as many molotov cocktails as you can – and start warming up the old throwing arm.

    • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      wrong article bruh

      • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        lol. I was actually on the wrong page. Bring on the “thumbs down”

  2. jm91rs - May 15, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    How dare you suggest that Dante Bichette was not a great hitter.

    • heyblueyoustink - May 15, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      One of his former teammates has one of my favorite nicknames of all time:

      Vinny “Cashstealer”

    • gloccamorra - May 15, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      He was, at home in Colorado. On the road, not so much.

      His best quote was in 1998. He went 4 for 5 in the first game of the season, then went 4 for 5 in the second game, and a reporter asked, “What if you went 4 for 5 the whole season?” Dante answered “I’d probably finish a couple points behind Tony Gwynn.”

  3. manchestermiracle - May 15, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    So is he wrong? Are the monster-payroll Dodgers not one of the most punchless squads in the league? Is McGwire not in charge of coaching the hitters? Is he not a 70-homer steroid-using former player? Is it not valid to point out that perhaps being a former power hitter isn’t relevant to the ability to coach other players’ hitting?

    It’s just sports, Craig. Simers is nearly always sarcastic in his articles and approaches ballplayers without the worship-the-ground-they-walk-on attitude. But way to paint all sportswriters who cover the Dodgers with that mile-wide brush of dismissal. I’d rather see you write about the sport rather than assume the mantle of a Siskel and Ebert reviewer. This kind of article makes you look almost as snarky as Simers.

    • Roger Moore - May 15, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The reason the Dodgers aren’t hitting a lot of HR is an acute lack of HR hitting talent, not inadequate coaching. Matt Kemp isn’t hitting like he should, but there’s basically nobody else who is a legitimate power threat. If the only way to turn the Dodgers’ roster into a bunch of power hitters is steroids, that’s on the GM, not the hitting coach.

      • gloccamorra - May 15, 2013 at 8:54 PM

        Andre Ethier WAS a legitimate power hitter a few years ago, until he hurt his little pinkie, and he hasn’t been the same since. Adrian Gonzalez WAS a legitimate power hitter, until he went to Boston and started hitting to all fields for average, and doesn’t want to go the other way like he did in Petco, complaining he hurt his shoulder in 2010 and can’t do it anymore. McGwire probably isn’t allowed to give both of them a slap upside the head.

  4. historiophiliac - May 15, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Holy crap was that rude. How does he get interviews?

    • Cris E - May 15, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Ah, well, there you are: Simers doesn’t need interviews. His style is more “drive by” and the less you interact with him the less likely you to appear in one of his infrequent baseball hits. He’s awful.

  5. jerze2387 - May 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    A better way to go from that angle would be “They have a hitting coach that hit 70 HR…why doesnt he suit up and play?”

    Which is exactly what i was thinking watching Dodgers highlights the other day when they showed Mcgwire

    • 18thstreet - May 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      It’s never been clear to me that hitting coaches make much of a difference. I know that there are pitching coaches (Dave Duncan and Leo Mazzone) who are given credit for pitchers’ successes, and there’s evidence that they made a difference — there are pitchers who did much better under their supervision than without it. But is there any proof that a hitting coach has ever mattered?

      That’s not to say that a team should go without one. I’m sure there’s a role. But has a hitting coach ever successfully turned a weak hitter into an okay one?

      • billybawl - May 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Can’t say. My gut says that a weak major league hitter will usually be a weak hitter. But maybe a good hitting coach can help a good hitter become a great one. Mark McGwire would certainly give Doug Rader credit for turning his career around. Watching his swing pre- and post-Rader you can definitely see the difference. Too bad we’ll never know for sure how much of the improvement was PEDs and how much was Rader’s teachings.

        Charlie Lau working with George Brett also comes to mind, even though I think Lau’s method has been discredited since.

      • largebill - May 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        A hitting coach is not expected to to make a crappy hitter a great hitter. Heck, any major league position player is a good hitter. Problem is they are facing major league pitching. There are things coaches can do to help a player learn better methods of preparation. Help them with film study, mental preparation, confidence, etc. Pitching and hitting coaches are part therapists. Players go through so much failure in this game. Batting .300 means you are failing 70% of the time.

  6. faulkner22 - May 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Dan Shaughnessy thinks T.J. Simmers is great.

  7. Joe - May 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    AJ Ellis, Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto all have OPS+ of 125 or more. (And Adrian Gonzalez is at 149, but that’s status quo for him). Matt Kemp is the only real problem, other than the backup infielders trying to fill in for Ramirez.

    Meantime, Josh Beckett has a 5.19 ERA and the guys filling in for Greinke are over 6.00, as is the closer.

    I’d say Mark McGwire isn’t really the problem here.

  8. missingdiz - May 15, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    La Russa didn’t hire McGwire as hitting coach because of the home runs. TLR knew personally how McGwire worked to improve as a hitter. In his early years, according to TLR, McGwire didn’t have a clue–Canseco was the better student of the game, relatively speaking. But sometime after nearly crossing the Mendoza line (not that it matters anymore–Adam Dunn is drawing a new line) McGwire began studying hitting intensively. Reportedly, he also gets along with the guys well, not coming on like a big star (or a criminal, for that matter). Also, I agree with those who say you can’t expect miracles from any hitting coach. Some guys are stubborn. Some guys are playing hurt. Some guys are having bad luck. And, finally, it’s a long season, not over yet by a long shot.

  9. coryfor3 - May 15, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Don’t let your own agenda of disregarding steroid use to color your opinion of a journalist addressing a legit topic in not such a great way.

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