Cano, don’t’cha know?

Listening to the Bleacher Creatures chant “You Sold Out” to Robinson Cano was as hilarious and it was ironic. After all, the New York Yankees are only good because they rely on their players “selling out” to join the team. How much did CC Sabathia sign for? Or Mark Teixeira? $161 and $180 million respectively. How much did they give Jacoby Ellsbury to come over from Boston? How much did they pay Brian McCann to leave his hometown? 

You get the point. 

I could go on and on all day about what a dumb chant those bleacher creatures were yelling. I get why they are upset: Not only did NYY offer Cano more money, but it would give him a chance to have a Jeter-esque New York career. But, sadly, he opted for a longer contract. So, instead of a $175/7-year deal, he got a $240/10-year deal. Well, I guess you can say he has job security. 

The NYY were not about to dish out another 10-year deal. They don’t need it blasting them on the back-end, a la Alex Rodriguez. After seeing that first-hand, you’d think Robinson Cano would understand why a 10-year deal was not an option. Regardless, he chose to go to a team that is sub-par every year. He’s gonna get most of his Octobers off and I doubt he will get another World Series ring. He traded in a legacy with the Yanks to be the face of the Seattle Mariners, which is probably punishment enough.

I’m not going to boo Cano because he left. He is a big boy and can make his own choices, but I will take issue with one thing. I do not appreciate him saying he felt no respect from the Yankee organization. Correct me if I am wrong, but being offered $25 million a year does not seem disrespectful. Was he put off by the rapid signing of Jacoby Ellsbury? Maybe, but as a “businessman”, he should understand why the Yanks were not going to wait on him. I guess I just don’t understand how he felt disrespected and he never elaborated on it, which is why there is a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. In no conversation on the part of the Yankees have I detected hints of disrespect.

So yeah. Cano did what he did and that’s fine. I don’t dislike him for making a business choice or going where he felt more wanted. I don’t dislike him at all, really. I’m indifferent. His leaving was overshadowed by so much over the course of the winter and spring training (Jeter’s retirement news, the nearly $500 million in new additions) that his leaving quickly was forgotten. Not only that, but they new Yanks have played well. Had the team been suffering, maybe I would miss Cano more. 

I think Cano will regret leaving someday. He’ll probably be sitting at home in October and wondering why he left. Maybe if he had waited until AFTER hearing about Jeter’s retirement he would have stayed. Maybe if he had gotten more money he would’ve stayed. Maybe. Maybe maybe maybe. So many maybes, so little time. 

I guess what I am trying to say is don’t knock Cano for going to Seattle. Trust me, playing for Seattle seven years from now will probably be punishment enough….

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Rocky Mountain High-Oh-My-Oh-My

Quietly lurking in the vast dump truck that consists of three teams in the NL West is a team that no one expected to be as potentially dangerous are they are ending up being. In a division that contains the Giants and Dodgers, no one really cares about the other three teams. The D-Backs? Laughable, off to the worst start in team history. The Padres? Wait, they still exist? The Rockies? Hahah-wait. 

The Rockies? How about those Rockies.

Yes, they are only 14-12 on the season, just scraping over .500 at the end of April, but I wouldn’t heed those numbers too much. They are, after all, currently tied with the Dodgers for second place in the division. Once Clayton Kershaw comes back off the DL, I suppose that will change, but don’t count the Rockies out yet. 

With a very scary offense, this is a team that could surprise people. On their 25-man roster, 8 are batting better than .300 and 11 are batting above .250. In comparison, on the Dodgers’ roster, only 4 are batting over .300 and 7 are batting about .250. Nutty, right? Oh, and the Rockies are leading the majors with a combined batting average of .294. Who would have thought that the Rockies, a team forgotten by many, could have such offensive prowess? And let’s not forget that the bearded center-fielder Charlie Blackmon is batting a league-high .402. I know, I had never heard of him either.

Yeah, they are offensively a good team, but what about defense? Well, I am so glad you asked! The Rockies have two 2013 Golden Glove winners in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez and the rest of the team ain’t that bad, either. New first base addition Justin Moreno is known for his defense, and taking over for the newly-retired Todd Helton is no easy feat. You have to hand it to the Rockies for being so reliably good on defense. 

Can this team make it into the post-season this year? I highly doubt it, and I say that because they have to climb over the Dodgers and the Giants to get there. They are very good and rather dangerous. If they can keep the same nucleus of guys next year, look out. I have a good feeling about the Rockies, I just hope I am right. I would love to see them do well.

 

 

 

Pine-Gate 2014: Gunking up a Simmering Rivalry

Oh, Michael Pineda. Or, should I say, PINEda. (So clever!) 

Again? Really? The first time was bad enough, but now? Sigh…Putting pine tar on your hand is one thing, but having a huge smudge of it on your neck is just silly. Apparently, the Yankees need a make-up artist. Why didn’t anyone in the dugout help him be more discrete about it? One ejection later and the Yanks have a potential problem.

Look, I don’t have a problem with pitchers using a little tar to help them grip their pitches. If you are pitching in places like Boston in April, yeah, good luck. I think pitchers should be able to use this for grip and nothing else. If batters can use it, there is no reason pitchers shouldn’t be able to use it, so long as they don’t manipulate the ball’s path. But, if you are going to use it, don’t rub it in the other team’s face. Common curtesy, right? In fact, many batters have no problem when the pitchers use tar for grip. It’s not really a big deal anymore. 

With Red Sox manager John Ferrell going out to the umps to point out the tar (Oh yeah, this was a Sox/Yanks game. Fuel to the fire!), he has opened up a can of worms. Tit for tat will surely come into play, especially since we know that Red Sox pitches have used substances before, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yankee manager Joe Girardi pulls some punches during the next few meetings…

The rivalry is slowly heating up again, no A-Rod necessary! 

Here is the whole story…

http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/10830038/michael-pineda-new-york-yankees-ejected-foreign-substance-neck 

For the Love of Brawls

I love bench-clearing brawls. 

I really do. They are probably one of my favorite things on planet earth and I make no apologies for it. One of my favorite past times is pointing out the stupidity in others and bench-clearing brawls make for some prime target practice. Very rarely have I seen a brawl that did not emerge from something stupid and unavoidable. After today’s skirmish between Carlos Gomez of the Brewers and the Pittsburg Pirates, I figured I should explain why I get so excited when something like this happens. But first, let’s look at some of my favorite brawls (in no particular order):

Dodgers v. Diamondbacks, June 2013: This brawl was insane. Benches cleared twice. TWICE. Multiple fines were issued and the #FreeHinske movement got underway (if you live in AZ, you totally get that reference). After six (SIX!!) hit batters, the dam broke when Ian Kennedy (AZ), plunked Zack Greinke (LA). Cue flying fists and Mark McGwire’s neck vein! This battle didn’t seem to end, no matter how ridiculous it was. People were getting thrown into camera wells, Puig was exploding all over the place, and no “adults” were present. I went to bed too steamed to sleep, which is actually really embarrassing to admit. As it turns out, the brawl was the tipping point for the Dodgers and they went on a tear for the rest of the season. Bum deal, bro.

Brewers v. Braves, 2013: Hark! Carlos Gomez at the heart of another brawl! Gee, I’m sensing a pattern…Anyway, CarGo admired a homer for WAY too long and then proceeded to stare down the pitcher as he trotted around the bases. Braves catcher Brian McCann (who is quickly becoming my new favorite Yankee, BTW), took great exception to that, and by that I mean he never even let CarGo get to home plate. I would not want to run into a McCann-wall. I don’t know anyone who would. Yes, he seems like a super nice guy and a really great ballplayer, but dear God, do not piss him off.

That time Jason Varitek glove-smooshed A-Rod in the Face, 2004: Out of principal, I had to include this. I mean, c’mon. I HAD to (I love A-Rod, I can’t help it: He’s better than the best soap opera and cooler than a cucumber wearing Ray Bans). Let’s face facts: it was a Kodak moment. Literally. I just checked and you can buy a framed photo of the glove-shoving moment on Amazon for $40. Not only that, it was a GREAT fight and cranked up the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. The rivalry has actually cooled off considerably this year in the small sampling of games I’ve seen. Where’s A-Rod when you need him to spice things up?!?

Here’s the thing: Brawls are usually caused by egos. Duh. If you admire a long home run (or what you perceive to be one), you should expect to get some jawing from the pitcher. Don’t get all butt-hurt when he starts chirping at you! If you don’t want chirping, don’t grandstand. I mean, seriously. Get with the program.

So what if the brawl is caused by getting hit by pitches? Well, the unwritten rule of the game is that the team who did not get hit receives a “free plunk”. Basically, you hit my batter, I get to hit yours. There. Even Steven. All balance is restored and the only thing that happens is the benches get warned. When it escalates from there, that’s when you have a problem. Hitting batters isn’t always avoidable, but anytime there is a whiff of purposeful plunking, watch out. Don’t retaliate after your one allotted revenge hit.

There are plenty more reasons why brawls start, but I would say 97.32% of brawls are totally avoidable. Brawls are bad for baseball! I know, I love them, but I love the game more. Baseball is a gentleman’s game, not a hockey game. Mind your manners. Remember, the person who just gave up a homer to you is feeling pretty crappy, so don’t make it worse. And if you do make it worse, don’t be surprised when they let you know.  

Yes, I will enjoy watching fights when they happen, but I never root for them to occur. I’ll take a civil game over a brawl any day.

Unless A-Rod is involved. All bets are off when A-Rod is involved, and I mean that in a totally good way. Love ya, Alex… 

 

R-E-S-PUIG (Respect for Puig)

I tend to dog on Dodgers’ star Yasiel Puig quite a bit.

Of course, most of it is because of his off-field antics and his ball playing gaffs. I don’t necessarily dislike him as a person, but I do think his behavior is, for lack of a better term, teenager-ish. 

So imagine my surprise when I read his very dark and disturbing story of his defection. I suppose it wasn’t so much surprise as it was humbling sadness for this kid. I won’t go into details about his defection because it is a story that cannot simply be summarized using witty banter and bizarre adjectives. If you get the chance, you ought to read it yourself because it is very sobering. Let’s just say his Cuban defection story has given me some newfound respect for this Tasmanian Devil.

After I read it, I understood more of why he acts the way he does. I get why he has always been so guarded and so mysterious. He clearly has much more on his plate than baseball. His manager Don Mattingly said that he is worried about Puig, especially since he has gotten death threats from the smugglers who got him to the States. Puig even owes these people a significant chunk of his baseball earnings, so that must make those smugglers unhappy. 

In addition to worrying about the smugglers, he fathered a child in the off-season. He has had multiple run-ins with the law. This kid has issues, but some of them can probably be explained by the trauma he must have dealt with trying to get to the USA. His on-field antics cannot be explained by this, which is why he needs to work extra-hard on getting better. He needs to focus and channel his energy in a more positive way. He needs to learn the ins and outs of the game and be more respectful of the game and its former players. 

Listen, there is no denying this kid is good and baseball is better having him there. All I ask of him is that he work on being a more respectful person and to fix his unnecessary errors on the field. I have no doubts that he is a good man with a good heart. Hearing what he had to go through made me respect him more as a person. If he can get better on the field and work on his uber-polorizing personality, he might have a shot into my good graces.

Here is a link to his full story. I highly recommend you read it, especially if you want to lose some faith in humanity:

http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/10781144/no-one-walks-island-los-angeles-dodgers-yasiel-puig-journey-cuba 

Hit Me Baby, One More Time…With That Replay

Did you watch the epic weekend that was FOUR Red Sox/Yankees games? I did. It was glorious, and not just because the Yankees won 3 out of the four. Okay, that’s why it was glorious, you caught me! But, it was epic for many other reasons, most of them occurring on Saturday and Sunday, and all having to do with replay. 

Let’s start on Saturday. Unless you live under a rock, you are well aware that MLB totally botched a replay opportunity at second base. Dean Anna hit a clean double, but when he was standing up, his foot came off the bag with the tag still applied to his side. Any person with access to replay could tell he was out. I knew he was out. He should’ve been out. John Ferrell knew he was out, which was why he made the smart move to challenge the play. Sadly, MLB messed up and Anna was ruled safe. Bum deal for real, but it didn’t amount to anything since a run didn’t score.

Fast forward to Sunday. The game was much closer and both sides were working as hard as they could to not mess up. The Sox needed to even the series and the Yanks needed to take the series. On a routine double play, Francisco Cervelli was called out at first, but Joe Girardi didn’t agree. While the team medical doctor took care of a clearly injured Cervelli, Joe asked for a replay. After looking at the replay, I could see that it was a tie, and as we all know, tie goes to the runner. Ferrell was none to pleased with that verdict and who can blame him? He got royally screwed on Saturday! However, you are not allowed to argue replays. He was thrown out of the game, but not after telling the umpire where he could shove the replay system. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want the replay system in the particular orifice of my body where Ferrell suggested it get shoved. The call getting reversed was huge because it allowed a run to score, the winning run as it turned out. 

After the insanity that was this series of replays, it is obvious why Ferrell is so frustrated with the system. But we have to remember that replay is in its infancy. It’s been used for, what, six weeks? Maybe? If replay was a human, it would be barely out of the hospital. Babies crap themselves all the time and I think the replay system will crap itself a few times, too, before all things are said and done. We cannot judge if the replay system is working or not!

The overall goal was to make sure that more calls were being made correctly, which is a very VERY good thing. About 1/3 of the calls are getting reversed and isn’t that exactly what we wanted? Managers are getting upset because MLB has made a few gaffs, but they shouldn’t be discounting the system just yet. Kinks are still getting worked out and will continue to get worked out for the next few seasons. In fact, they are estimating that it will take about three seasons for this system to be exactly how we wanted it to be. 

So, it might take some more four minute reviews, botched calls, and ejected managers before the system is where we need it to be. Most fans I know are willing to be patient because they want the calls to be right. Fans are supportive of the system and understand that there will be some growing pains. Managers know there will be growing pains, too. Umpires are WELL aware that there will be growing pains. So, it is safe to say that telling an umpire to shove the replay system up their ass is not a good way to help remedy the problem. I don’t blame Ferrell because I would be mad, too, but he handled the situation incorrectly.

Let the system get ironed out before we deem it unsuccessful. Give it time. Understand that not all calls will be perfect and understand that the umps are just as frustrated. Take a chill pill and be happy you are part of history. Well, baseball history anyway.

 

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/has-trend-toward-extensions-reduced-the-rate-of-roster-turnover-041014?cmpid=tsmtw:fscom:mlbonfox

This article makes your brain hurt a little, even if you are someone like me who loves baseball statistics and saber-metrics. Talking about the big-money era of baseball is something new and somewhat exciting for people who realize that the Yankees are not the only super wealthy team anymore. Players are getting to stay with teams longer, which is good for the fans. However, will these long contracts be good for the team? I don’t think the money is as big a deal, but longer contracts, especially for older players, seem to crap out near the tail-end.