Archive for the ‘Scorn’ Category

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves

Catch and throw. The essential elements of the game of baseball. Same as it ever was for 130 years. Some catches are hard and some are easy, but the act of catching the baseball has been very similar forever. Glove technology changed the dynamic but catching a baseball is really the same now as it was in Ty Cobb’s day.

Until 2014, that is. For a strange rule change, or at least a league-wide change in the reading of the rule as written, has essentially re-defined what a caught ball looks like.

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You have to give the man credit – he knows how to make an impression. In fact, the video above recalling his three-homer day at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia contains several moments that are too good to be true.

Before he launches his first homer of the day, the on-field cameras pick up a leather-lunged Phillies fan screaming “CHEEEEDURRR!” right before Braun takes Kyle Kendrick deep. Then, later in the highlight pack, the lucky recipient of Braun’s third home run ball refuses to throw it back onto the field, stuffing it into the pocket of his hoody as those around demand the ball go back from whence it came. You can see the guy in the Phillies sweater matter-of-factly state his reasoning for keeping the ball as “it’s RYAN BRAUN!” No further explanation needed.

Tuesday marked Braun’s second trip outside the friendly confines of Miller Park, and Phillies’ fans greeted him with a steady stream of boos, voicing their displeasure with his choice of nutritional supplements and subsequent suspension.

As a totally unrelated aside: Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd was greeted warmly in each of his five plate appearances on the day.

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The Joke’s On You

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets

The headline says it all. “In the Mets Clubhouse, An Old Slur Resurfaces.” There is no room for equivocation. There is no way to get around the reality that a member of the Mets coaching staff thought calling a Japanese translator a “Chinaman” was funny. There is no denying pitching Dan Warthen regretted what he said, as he apologized to Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s translator Jeff Cutler for his insensitive remark.

It is with that apology that this story begins. It was the apology that Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo overheard the slur in question. It is at this point that Woo leapt to action, his cheeks flushed with righteous anger and his reporter sense for a solid story tingling somewhere in the background.

There is a story in this seemingly innocuous utterance. There is no place for it in a modern workplace. Full stop. Despite the monolithic nature of a baseball clubhouse, jokes like this have no place there. The Mets organization rushed to make the requisite apologies and no doubt, Warthen feels awful. If you asked him, I hazard a guess he would vehemently disagree that he’s a racist. That’s probably because he isn’t.

But the time when folks who are the subject or target of these “jokes” should turn the other cheek passed long ago. Expecting Woo and, to a lesser extent, Cutler to just laugh off these comments is unfair and unrealistic. The onus does not belong on the shoulders of those not in positions of power, as Woo states, to be strong.

There can and should be no more excuses. No more excuses of age or upbringing. No excuse flies. Just don’t do it. Think about who you are and where you are and tailor your comments accordingly. Period. It is not complicated. For a sport that twists itself into knots demanding a nebulous brand of professionalism on the field, a few moments of self-awareness in the clubhouse or on a flight is NOT too much to ask.

All manner of frat boy nonsense takes place in a big league clubhouse on an average day. This does no preclude big league players and coaches from the turning of the earth. It’s a different world, one where Japanese American translators and Chinese American reporters need not bristle when thoughtless comments are cast within their earshot.

I don’t know Dan Warthen. But if he is anything like most reasonable people in 2014, he is probably quite uncomfortable right now. He meant no malice and simply took good natured clubhouse ribbing a step too far. Hopefully, he doesn’t feel persecuted or as though he is the victim here. He isn’t. He is a 61-year old man with a chance to learn something. Even if his only lesson is “don’t make insensitive jokes in front of this minority fella”, it’s a start. Expecting a wave of enlightenment to wash over the baseball culture is foolhardy.

But demanding the end of “boys will be boys” and shrugged shoulders is not too much to ask. It is the bare damn minimum. Hopefully the fraternity of baseball can show some professionalism and respect for the game by uniting to raise the bar slightly above “know your audience.” Dare to dream, I know.

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The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly made a very curious decision recently. After drafting college junior Ben Wetzler in the fifth round of the June draft, the club and player could not reach an agreement on a contract and the Wetzler opted to return to Oregon State for his senior season. A tough choice, as college seniors have little in the way of leverage in negotiations after they’re drafted for the final time.

The Phillies, for whatever reason, took it upon themselves to report Wetzler to the NCAA for consorting with an agent, a violation of the collegiate body’s rules that could result in the left-handed pitcher losing eligibility for his final season.

In terms of real life, that’s pretty messed up. An enormous and wealthy corporation, run by the best in their field (and also Ruben Amaro Jr.) versus a college kid, an “amateur” athlete trying to secure what could be the only big payday of his sporting life.

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MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

The Baseball Hall of Fame announcement comes, mercifully, tomorrow. The Hall of Fame gets discussed ad nauseum during this slowest time on the baseball calendar. It’s all push and pull and outage cycle and groupthink and, more than anything, it’s tiring.

After last year’s solemn silence on announcement day, this year looks like a lock for at two inductees. The oft-reference Baseball Think Factory HoF vote collecting gizmo has four players getting in, but the diligent work of ballot tabulating only counts those publicly available before the official announcement.

This ignores the lunatic fringe – the former writers who maintain their right to select players for the Hall of Fame in perpetuity. Those long retired from the beat grind and those moved on to other challenges in life.

It isn’t that the game passed them by and their insights are valuable…it’s just that a few voices opt for volume instead of insight. For grandstanding instead of celebration. For pointing fingers instead of clapping hands. It’s a damn shame and does all baseball fans a disservice.

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Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees - Game One

This is the worst part – the waiting. The space in time between the action and the reaction. Last night’s semi-gigantic report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines on MLB gleefully hopping into bed — offering to “drop the lawsuit it filed against Bosch in March, indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation, provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that might bring charges against him” — with scumbag drug pusher Tony Bosch in a brazen attempt to punish ballplayers who violated baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement is only the beginning.

Right now, there is only speculation. Right now, there is only weary headshaking as to the depths the league will go to decorate their regal home with the heads of the transgressors. Who will it be? How will this change the game? How made will the union get?

Into that vacuum enters speculation and pontification. Many column inches and blogposts and hot twitter takes and tortured metaphors will for the greater good of shaming MLB for their specious lawsuit meant to squeeze a desperate, pathetic man. Or, alternately, the praise chorus will sing loudly as Bud Selig and his crew finally clean up the game for good.

The cheaters will be banished! The playing field levelled! Consumer confidence will hit an all-time high and the league and players’ union will finally get down to the business of making money. If only it were that simple.

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These two tweets are from a series on missives from the Fox Sports reporter and columnist Jon Morosi. Morosi pontificated on the topic of one Brett Lawrie, the fully #dimed third baseman of the Toronto Blue Jays. Lawrie was placed on the disabled list today with an ankle injury suffered sliding into second base on a steal attempt against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

The injury itself seemed quite freakish, though Brett Lawrie’s injury history suggests there are freak injuries and then there are player that suffer injuries at a freakish rate. Is it because of his style of play or something else? Fear not, Doctor Jon Morosi is on the case.

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