Who acted poorly: Glavine, or the Braves?

Leave a comment

As a longtime Braves fan, I was beyond angry when I heard that they had released Tom Glavine yesterday.
As a 14 year-old boy, I watched Glavine’s first start back in 1987, was
with him and the Braves through some dark, early years, rejoiced when
things unexpectedly turned around in 1991, cheered like crazy during
Game Six of the 1995 World Series, and continued to pull for him as his
career transformed from merely great to Hall of Fame worthy. Even if I
didn’t particularly enjoy his move to the Mets, I understood. Even
though I knew he wasn’t the same pitcher he used to be upon his return
to Atlanta last year, I rejoiced. Glavine doesn’t know it, but he and I
have a lot of history together, and history makes up for a lot.

So, yes, I was angry when I heard the news yesterday. Earlier this
spring I wanted Glavine to retire because it sounded like he truly
couldn’t pitch anymore, but his rehab starts sounded like they were
going well. Indeed, he pitched six scoreless innings on Tuesday night.
In light of this, and in light of all Glavine has meant to the
franchise over the past 22 years, I thought the Braves were obligated
to at least give him a chance to pitch. But they didn’t. Which was bad
enough, but it was compounded by what seemed like humiliation in light
of Glavine’s statements the evening before
that he stood ready to pitch. As it seemed motivated by money (Glavine
stood to claim $1 million for making the team) it struck me like a
particularly classless and penny wise-pound foolish way to let a future
Hall of Famer’s career end in Atlanta.

After having had a night to sleep on it, I’m still miffed over it all,
though not quite as miffed as I was yesterday. I will not dispute for a
second that the Braves are better off from a baseball perspective
having Tommy Hanson pitching than Tom Glavine. I will also fully grant
the following, offered by Braves’ GM Frank Wren:

“In low-A ball, the pitching line is not a relevant factor in whether the ‘stuff’ could get major-league hitters out”

I’m no scout and outside of the discussion of his radar readings, I’ve
heard nothing about the specific quality of his rehab starts. Maybe
he’d get shelled if he pitched for Atlanta. I don’t know.

But I do know that the only situation which could have existed to
make this something other than a callous move on the Braves’ part would
the following: Glavine is told that he’s not cutting by Braves
management and is about to be released, and then nonetheless seeks out
a reporter to make that “I’m ready” comment. In such a situation, it’s
Glavine, not the Braves forcing the issue out the way it was forced,
putting the Braves in a no-win situation. Did he do that, or did the
Braves play their cards close to the vest, encouraging him along in
rehab, allowing him to declare himself ready, and then and only then
tell him, no, you’re going to be released?

For those of us who are coming at this with some emotional baggage
as it relates to a team legend — as opposed to thinking about it in
merely analytical terms — that is the most important question.

First American League All-Star voting totals are in, Sal Perez leads in the voting

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez jokes during batting practice before Game 2 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets  Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Leave a comment

It seems early, but this is when it happens: Major League Baseball announcing the early results for All-Star Game voting. Voting started in April which makes it kind of hard to weigh-in with any sort of certainty about how anyone is doing, but it probably doesn’t matter much. It doesn’t matter much for a lot of reason. Among them:

  • There are different schools of thoughts about who should be an All-Star. Some people think the biggest stars should always make it. Others think it’s a reward for a good first half of the season. I really don’t care either way, but if you’re a “biggest stars” person, April is fine for voting. Famous stars are no less famous because they’ve had a bad couple of months.
  • Despite the fact that the All-Star Game “counts” for home field advantage, the way it is played ensures that who starts is not super critical. Starters will be gone after a couple of innings. No matter the vote totals, the same general bunch of players will decided the game one way or the other, early or late. It’s the All-Star Game. It’s kind of a circus regardless.
  • Major League Baseball does not really care about the integrity of voting. They encourage you to vote a gabillion times, and it’s all very clearly aimed at getting people to visit lucratively-sponsored web pages in order to do it. Which, hey, good for them for making money, but that’s not how you run a tight voting operation.

That last bit is sort of key. I don’t want to overstate how important this is because, again, it’s just the All-Star Game, but there is laughably obvious fraud going on with the votes. Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten emails from MLB.com and Royals.com thanking me for my maximum five votes that day. Stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.33.32 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.32.59 PM

That was from a while back. Last I checked it thinks I’ve voted, like, 60 times or something. I haven’t voted once and, obviously, I haven’t listed the Royals as my favorite team. Someone is using my email address or ID or whatever. In my case it’s for Royals players. Maybe people from 29 other teams are hacking other people in their team’s favor too, but the point of this isn’t the specific votes. It’s that this isn’t exactly a high-integrity operation.

Because it’s just All-Star votes I sort of don’t care too much, but it’s at least smart to take the vote totals, especially the early ones, with a grain of salt, sit back and wait for the Home Run Derby and just remember that the All-Star Game is kind of a crazy non-serious event, no matter what people say about home field advantage. For now, here are the voting leaders:

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.55.26 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.56.05 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.56.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.57.08 PM

Cubs fan gets a tattoo that assumes a World Series win in the next four seasons

cubs logo
8 Comments

This isn’t quite as risky as that (phony) story about the guy betting his life savings on the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. But it’s still a gamble, both in objective, statistical terms and in terms of the Cubs and their overall karma and luck and stuff. But you gotta have hope, man. Hope is the best thing. Or at least that’s what an escaped ex-con once said.

This got tweeted out in March, but WGN and other media outlets are just picking it up now. I most appreciate the comma after the indeterminate 201_ year, which assumes they may win more than one.

Tattoo experts: what’s the easiest fix here assuming nothing happens for the Cubbies by 2020?

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
5 Comments

For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
4 Comments

Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.