MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays

I’m starting to really dislike Alex Rodriguez. I mean, I don’t know my feelings about him as a man have really changed. He seems to make poor decisions and has a very casual relationship with the truth, but I still think of Alex Rodriguez as one of the best baseball players I ever saw.

I don’t like Alex Rodriguez because, as he uses all available legal channels to protect his legacy and not insignificant future earnings, I have to delve into very minor legalese. I have to spend time thinking about legal challenges and union charters and all the things baseball is supposed to guard against.

It appears I’m not alone in my Alex Rodriguez annoyance or Alex Rodriguez fatigue. As Tim Brown and Jeff Passan detail at Yahoo! Sports, the members of his union took to news that the Yankees third baseman sued the union…poorly. Very poorly.

“When he gets up to bat, you can hit him and hit him hard,” one player on the conference call told Yahoo Sports. “That’s what I’d do. He sued us. Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz screwed up. You know what? They owned up to it. They took their medicine.
“[Rodriguez] needs to be scared of coming back and facing people he sued. If he can’t fear the wrath of getting kicked out or not being included, he’s going to be forced out.”

This angry quote captured the mood after the a conference call with many top members of the Players Union, who went over their options as the faced suit from one of their “brothers.”

It appears union leadership spun the A Rod situation to ensure this very reaction from its membership, insisting Rodriguez’s attack was personal, not professional. As some point out, all players should hope the union would support them in any way when facing persecution from the league or a similar body, but the emotions are too raw and the wounds too fresh.

Which pretty much encapsulates the Alex Rodriguez experience perfectly. He brings out emotions in people that seem out of place. He draws ire like Kevin Durant draws fouls. As more and more players come out strongly against PEDs and their use in the game (always a risky proposition, as any politician knows), A Rod’s persona and antisocial actions turn the tide against him.

The circus that will not leave town will go quiet for a few weeks, only to roar back to life when Spring Training begins and A Rod shows up to camp as the CBA permits. The Yankees will play hot potato with that PR grenade for a few weeks before the actual business of baseball gets under way. But Alex Rodriguez will still be there, lurking in the shadows ready to ruin your day at a moment’s notice. There isn’t much you can do about it.

Important read of the day

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

Two important reads on the same subject. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote his annual “pitchers at risk” piece wherein he applies his own criteria to pinpoint potential decline or injury risks among young pitchers who saw a marked increase in their innings and workload year over year.

Colloquially knowns at “Verducci Effect”, the idea of an increase of 30 or more inning increases grew with baseball fans and writers because…well because predicting pitcher injuries is about as insightful as predicting rain in Seattle. Which isn’t to say Verducci’s theory doesn’t have merit because it does – as entertainment.

Russell Carlton of Baseball Prospectus dug into the idea of the Verducci Effect and showed, using plenty of statistical methodologies, that is is bunk. Mostly crap. It doesn’t hold scientific water. Case closed, Verducci Effect is not real, time to move on.

Before we throw TV in a cell and throw away the key, does anybody remember Tom Verducci ever presenting his ideas as more than a rough guideline based on the crudest of calculations? Holding Verducci’s feet to the fire for the shortcomings of his ad hoc theory seems like decrying the credibility of a baseball writer based on the accuracy of his preseason World Series predictions.

Nobody in a position to decide the fate of a young pitcher uses the Verducci Effect as their guidelines, it’s a magazine article published during the darkest days of the offseason. If, secure in the knowledge that his “theory” is rectally-derived, the readers choose to stick with Verducci, nobody gets hurt. It’s entertainment, to use the term lightly.

If you’re a baseball fan who wants more real insight and a little bit more to chew on, there are ample outlets in the year 2014 ready and willing to provide harder-hitting, more substantive and thoroughly researched treatises into the all matters baseball. It’s a wonderful time to be a baseball fan, in that respect.

If you’re looking to kill 20 minutes before lunch in January, you can dig deep into t-scores or you can skim Verducci’s findings on your iPad from within the privacy of your own bathroom. It’s your choice. Gory details or sweeping generalizations, you get to pick. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Bryce Harper‘s opinions brought to you by Bryce Harper’s youth

C’mon, Bryce. Dark Horse? That’s more of a “walking from the bathroom to the bed” song than a walkup to the plate song, no? Maybe I’m crazy. (Katy, – see you July, bae.)