Greinke! Greinke! Greinke! (And all things Zack)

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Kansas City started Anthony Lerew last night rather than the best pitcher in the league, but Zack Greinke still managed to make headlines by getting thrown out of the game from his seat in the dugout. Here’s how Dick Kaegel of MLB.com described the scene:

Greinke was ejected after [home plate umpire Greg] Gibson’s call of a ball that gave Red Sox batter Jacoby Ellsbury a 2-2 count against Royals starter Anthony Lerew. But it wasn’t just that pitch that riled Greinke. He’d been watching Gibson’s calls from the dugout and later from a television in the clubhouse. Finally, he came into the dugout and unloaded verbally.



“I just lost my composure, at least temporarily,” Greinke said. “I don’t usually do that. But it happens sometimes. I did right there, I don’t know why. It wasn’t warranted to be as vocal as I was about it. I was loud because I wanted him to hear me. I shouldn’t have done it. There were no cuss words. I don’t ever say cuss words, so I didn’t do that. I didn’t call him any names, either.”

Greinke’s next start comes Sunday afternoon against the Twins and the Royals are pulling out all the stops for his final home outing of the season, offering half-price tickets, discounted concessions, and “Greinke for Cy” t-shirts for the first 10,000 people through the turnstiles. Greinke is 9-3 with a 1.76 ERA at home this year and his 2.08 ERA overall would be the lowest mark by any AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s ridiculous 1.74 in 2000.
He also leads the AL in fewest hits per nine innings, WHIP, and shutouts, ranks second in strikeouts, K/BB ratio, and complete games, and is fifth in innings. To me that’s a slam-dunk Cy Young winner, but because Greinke has just 15 wins thanks to awful teammates some people see it another way. For instance, longtime announcer and former Cy Young winner Steve Stone wrote the following today:

While Greinke seems to be people’s choice for AL Cy Young, take a look at Felix Hernandez. Felix: 17-5. Greinke: 15-8.

Hernandez is an amazing young pitcher having a Cy Young-caliber season, but he just hasn’t been as good as Greinke, slightly better win-loss record or not. Of course, it’s tough to blame Stone for holding that opinion. Not only have people focused on pitcher win-loss records for decades and decades when it comes to determining who’s best, Stone benefited greatly from that focus when he won the award in 1980.
That year he ranked seventh in ERA and ninth in innings, but won a league-high 25 games for a 100-win Orioles team. Stone threw 251 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 149/101 K/BB ratio while Mike Norris of the A’s threw 284 innings with a 2.53 ERA and 180/83 K/BB ratio. Norris threw more innings while allowing fewer runs, had more strikeouts and fewer walks, was the league’s toughest pitcher to hit, and completed three times as many games, but because Stone had three more wins he got the award.
No wonder he views this year’s best pitchers the same way.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.