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.

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.