The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s and Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright’s reaction to the Holliday drop:
The Dodgers stretched the inning improbably after left fielder Matt Holliday lost first baseman James Loney’s line drive in the glare of late-afternoon lights and a backdrop of towel-waving fans.
The ball caught Holliday in the stomach, knocking the wind out of everyone wearing road gray.
“He lost the ball in the 50,000 white towels shaking in front of his face,” starting pitcher and would-be hero Adam Wainwright said. “It doesn’t seem really fair that an opposing team should be allowed to shake white towels when there’s a white baseball flying through the air. Dodger blue towels — how about that?”
Except that’s not how it happened. As Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Weisman points out — and as the video from MLB.com appears to show — the towels didn’t seem to be waving until after the drop. Indeed, the Dodgers fans were pretty bummed at that point because they were one out away from a loss and, until the exact moment of the error, assumed that out number three was in the air. I know the natural reaction is to stand up for your teammate when things are tough, but Wainwright is plain wrong to blame the towels.
But even if they were waving, so what? It’s called home field advantage. If the Cardinals don’t want to deal with hostiles waving white towels, they should have won a couple of extra games in September and finished with a better record than L.A.
Thinking more about it, does anyone remember back in the mid-to-late 80s when NFL quarterbacks used to be able to step out from behind center and get an official time out if the crowd was too loud? I have this image of Steve Fuller doing this, like, ten times in a row when he played for the Bears. QBs would even get the ref to warn the crowd to be quiet, and if they didn’t, the defense was assessed with a delay of game penalty. It was probably the stupidest rule to ever exist in professional sports.
Thankfully, football players put on their big boy pants and learned to deal and the rule was changed. As a result homefield advantage meant something once again (at least until all the new sound-killing stadiums came online). Baseball players should probably learn to suck it up and deal too.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.