Daily Dose: Beltran joins teammates on DL

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Carlos Beltran had been hoping to play through the bone bruise in his
right knee, but instead joined the Mets’ crowded disabled list after
undergoing an MRI exam Monday. General manager Omar Minaya indicated
that the DL stint may last just two weeks, but there’s no official
diagnosis yet. Beltran has been playing through various injuries all
season, yet never slowed down while hitting .336/.425/.527.

Jeremy Reed started in Beltran’s place Monday night, but went
0-for-4 as his line dropped to .278/.307/.347 on the year, and the Mets
could give an extended shot to Fernando Martinez after recalling him
from Triple-A. Martinez has hit .291 with a strong .885 OPS in 44 games
at Triple-A, but looked overmatched while going 12-for-62 (.194) with
the Mets and the 20-year-old likely isn’t ready to thrive yet.

While the Mets close to 1.5 games in the NL East despite running out
of healthy players, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Speaking of Mets on the shelf, Oliver Perez and John Maine
rehabbed together at Single-A by each starting one game of a
doubleheader Monday. Maine tossed six innings of one-run ball as he
comes back from shoulder soreness, but Perez allowed six runs in three
innings in his recovery from a knee injury. Neither looks ready to
rejoin the rotation, but Maine could be back after one more rehab
start.

* Having oddly decided to start him in 38 straight games fresh off
hip surgery the Yankees have apparently now concluded that Alex
Rodriguez needs rest. He sat out Friday and Saturday and the team
announced Monday that he’s scheduled to receive one day off per week
through the All-Star break. He’s a career .304 hitter who’s never
batted under .285, so much is being made of his lowly .213 average.

However, with nine homers, six doubles, and 30 walks in 170 plate
appearances his power and patience have been just fine and Rodriguez is
actually striking out less often than he has in any season since 1998.
He’s in a 9-for-59 (.153) slump this month and giving him regular days
off should have always been in the plans, but much of his struggles can
be traced to some singles not falling in. Be patient.

* Ervin Santana felt soreness in his forearm while throwing a
bullpen session this weekend, so the Angels scratched him from his
scheduled Tuesday start against the Rockies and put him on the disabled
list. While clearly a setback, the move is retroactive to June 12 and
would allow Santana to return from the DL as soon as this Friday.
However, that seems unlikely given his ugly 7.47 ERA in six outings.

Note: As the first half comes to a close, we’re now offering a “Midseason Report” that includes all the outstanding content from our “Season Pass” product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.

AL Quick Hits: Grady Sizemore (elbow) is planning to come off
the disabled list Tuesday, but remains one setback from season-ending
surgery … Scott Kazmir (elbow) tossed six innings of one-run ball in a
rehab outing Monday at Triple-A, striking out five and walking zero …
Angels general manager Tony Reagins said Monday that the team isn’t
interested in Pedro Martinez … Out since April with a partially torn
elbow ligament, Xavier Nady is set to start a rehab stint Wednesday at
Triple-A … Akinori Iwamura tore his ACL last month, but is now hoping
to play again this season after undergoing surgery Monday … Josh Outman
is expected to miss Wednesday’s start because of elbow soreness … CC
Sabathia (biceps) remains optimistic about not missing a start, but the
Yankees won’t make a call until after his bullpen session Wednesday …
Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) began what’s slated to be a three-week
rehab assignment Monday at Double-A.

NL Quick Hits: Out since last month, Joey Votto has reportedly
joined the Reds in Toronto and is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday
night … Ryan Howard’s status remains unclear after being diagnosed with
acute sinusitis … Albert Pujols reportedly “called his shot” before
blasting a game-breaking grand slam Sunday, which apparently surprised no one
… Alfonso Soriano is just 12-for-73 (.164) this month, so he got Monday
off while the Cubs were shut out … Manny Ramirez is expected to begin
playing in minor-league games Tuesday in preparation for his July 3
return from suspension … Yunel Escobar was scratched from Monday’s
lineup with a strained hip, which is the same injury that sidelined him
for a week last month … Javier Vazquez worked around 11 base runners
while throwing 6.2 shutout innings Monday … Alex Gonzalez will miss 4-6
weeks following surgery Monday to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.

Reminder: athletes are not heroes

Zack Greinke
Associated Press
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This is something of a “greatest hits” piece and it’s topic I’ve talked about here before, but I’m reminded of it again because of Facebook’s memories thing which tells me I wrote about it seven years ago today back when I was still doing stuff at my old Shysterball blog at the Hardball Times.

The topic: ballplayers as heroes. The subject of the 2009 post on the matter was Zack Greinke, who was then beginning his breakout year with the Kansas City Royals. A columnist talked about how uplifting Greinke’s story was, what with him having overcome some struggles with anxiety disorder which had caused him to leave the game for a brief period. In early 2009 he was back, baby, and better than ever and many wanted to turn him into something larger than just a ballplayer excelling at his craft.

In the post I wrote about how, while such an impulse was understandable, it was a dangerous one as athletes have been made into heroes for years and years and, so often, they end up disappointing. Because we built them up so high, however, we don’t see such instances as the mere exhibition of human fallibility. We see them as some greater failure or even a betrayal, which is both ridiculous and unfair to these men and women, even if they have failed in certain ways. They have worked hard all of their lives to be good at a particular sport. They did not promise us glory or inspiration, yet we assume that they owe us those things. Their failures, however they are manifested, are matched by our failures at expectation management.

But it’s even more pernicious than that. Because, as I wrote at the time, when we create heroes, we necessarily create the need for villains and we will go out of our way to find those too, justified or otherwise:

“Hero” is too strong and baggage-laden a word anyway. As [Bill] James notes, it places a heavy burden on young men, and these guys are under such scrutiny day-in and day-out that they really don’t need it. What’s more, the term hero it necessarily assumes its opposite — villain — and demands that we search them out too. You know, to restore balance to the universe and everything. Often — as in the case of A-Rod and Gooden and Bonds and all of the others — they’re the same people, just older . . . Hero creation, worship, and subsequently, destruction has long been a part of baseball. But it’s not an essential part, and in my mind not a desirable part.

Seven years later we’re still doing this. As Bill James noted in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” “When a young player comes to the major leagues and has success right away, writers will almost always write about what a fine young man he is as well as a supreme talent.” Many of them, like Zack Greinke, will prove to continue to be fine older men, just as they were fine young men. Some will not. Would it not be better if we didn’t get so invested in how fine a young man any one of them is? Or, short of that, if we didn’t act so betrayed and victimized if they turn out not to be such a fine young man?

I like to hear a good story about a baseball player who, by all outward appearances, seems like a good person. But I’m content to give such a story a smile and leave it at that. If we require heroism, there are people who do truly heroic things in the world beyond throw baseballs.

Andrew McCutchen apologies to an official scorer he said should be fired

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh. Detroit won 7-3.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Associated Press
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Andrew McCutchen made an error on Wednesday night. He thought he shouldn’t have been charged with one on the play, however, and afterward said “whoever scored that an error should be fired. That’s unbelievable. I did everything I could to catch it.”

It was a dumb comment for two reasons. First, a player “doing everything he can” on a play doesn’t make a misplay not a misplay. The “e” ain’t about effort, man. I realize scoring has gotten somewhat lax in recent years and players are routinely not given errors if it looks like they really, really tried, but there is not an intent element to the crime of making errors on the playing field. If you muff one, you muff one.

It was a dumb comment for another reason, and that’s that it was just not very nice. As we noted when David Ortiz or some others have made publicly disparaging comments about official scorers, it’s the ultimate punching down. These are people who have other jobs, aren’t public figures, don’t get paid a lot and really, really don’t have it in for anyone. Publicly criticizing them is bad enough, publicly demanding their jobs is pretty low.

Thankfully, with a day’s worth of reflection, McCutchen realized that this was the case and apologized. There aren’t public words from McCutchen available, but the club said that he reached out to the scorer and personally apologized. As he should’ve.