Jason Bay press conference highlights

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The Mets unveiled their newest bauble a couple of hours ago. After giving him a New York Rangers jersey with his name on it — seriously — Bay faced the press. The whole thing is here if you want to read it. Here are the highlights:

  • Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end but that “what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more”;
  • Bay said that the Mets were on his “short list.” Why? “The chance to win.”  I’m going to assume that was a covert tip to the media that Omar Minaya is going to be fired soon, because otherwise the statement simply wouldn’t make any sense;
  • Is he worried about the big Citi Field outfield? “For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do,
    Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on
    the road . . . I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good.”
  • Someone asked him if replacing Manny Ramirez in Boston will help “with what he’ll see in New York.” Bay was diplomatic. I wish, however, that he had said “yeah, because replacing Gary Sheffield’s rotting corpse and the misfit toys Jerry ran out there last year will be REALLY tough. Jeez!”
  • Bay said that between the first offer at the Winter Meetings and the time the deal was basically done was “a week or 10 days or something.”  I suppose everyone’s definition of a done deal differs a bit, but assuming things were essentially in place in the time frame Bay says they were, we all should apologize for our “this is taking forever; Bay doesn’t want to come to New York” snark.
  • He was asked what other teams were in the running for his services: “We can leave the second part of that question out. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been.” Clearly the Mystery Team has Bay’s family held hostage and will only release them once the heat dies down. The Mystery Team doesn’t mess around. Mess you up, man.
  • What about that Gammons quote about how he would rather play in Beirut than Queens?  “I kind of heard about that around the way.”  “Around the way?” What, is Bay an extra on “The Wire?”  He goes on: “People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit.”  Peter Groton Gammons! You’ve hurt Jason’s feelings! Now I want you to apologize this instant young man!
  • Asked about the state of his shoulder, which some feared would cause problems in his physical: “I actually never hurt my shoulder.”  Um, OK.  You know, I hate to continue to throw out conspiracy theories here, but the guy who was beating the Bay’s-physical-is-gonna-be-rough drum the hardest was Heyman. You don’t suppose that someone was whispering things to him about Bay’s shoulder in order to keep the Mets theoretically in play for a bit so some other high profile left field free agent could use them as a stalking horse, do you?  Nah, that would be crazy talk.

Anyway, Bay’s a Met now. Now on to the Bengie Molina sweepstakes.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.