Fans won't turn on tainted Ortiz, writers will

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As the blog’s resident Red Sox fan, this sucks.

As someone who hates writing about steroids, this really sucks.

The latest leak accusing both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz of being
among the 104 major leaguers testing positive for PEDs in 2003 didn’t
come as a huge surprise. I sort of made a case
for Ramirez starting in early 2008 in this space when he was suspended
in May, but there was always at least as much reason to believe he was
a long-term cheater. The suspicions about Ortiz always made a lot of
sense. If Ortiz wasn’t such a personable guy, they probably would have
been louder.

The outing of Ortiz is just another step on the road to, if not
respectability, then at least tolerance for steroids. Dodger fans still
love Ramirez. Yankees fans have played forgive and forget with every
homer from Jason Giambi and now Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox had been
remarkably unstained by steroid talk, even to the point of having fewer
minor leaguers suspended than any other franchise. But it was always a
given that cheaters played a role in the 2004 championship and likely
the one in 2007 as well. Red Sox fans have loved Ortiz too long to
start hating him now. They’ll cheer every homer just like they always
have.

At this point, it certainly seems as though the writers are the ones
with the biggest grudge against steroid users. In most cases, it’s the
same writers who were in better position than anyone to expose steroid
use in the 1990s and failed miserably. The fans are largely sick of the
topic and want to move on. MLB itself would certainly like to move on.

However, one thing that’s going to have to happen before we can
truly move on is the release of the 2003 list. It’s disgusting that
unethical lawyers are letting a name or two slip at a time. The whole
list is going to eventually come out and the sooner the better.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.