A-Rod, Dallas Braden and baseball etiquette

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Alex Rodriguez mound incident.jpgWe talked about this one a bit already, but let’s go deeper.  Here’s Dallas Braden after l’affaire A-Rod-walky-over-the-moundy:

“The long and short of it is it’s pretty much baseball etiquette. He
should probably take a note from his captain over there, because you don’t run across
the pitcher’s mound in between an inning or during the game. I was just
dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind.”

And here was A-Rod’s response (see full video of his comments here):

“He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little
surprised. I’ve never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a
handful of wins in his career. I’ve never even heard of that in my
career and I still don’t know. I thought it was pretty funny, actually.”

I wrote this morning that I had never heard of that particular unwritten rule. Since then, however, I’ve done a bit of Googling and read some stuff some other people have written and I think it’s safe to say that it’s at least a minor unwritten rule. It’s not up there with “don’t steal second when you have a 10-run lead” or “don’t go one-flap-down on your home run trot unless you’re Jeffrey Leonard,” but it exists. It may be a dumb rule — as so many of the unwritten rules are — but it’s a rule and ballplayers seem to care about such things.

Which causes A-Rod’s comments to ring hollow. That guy has been around baseball his whole life, so I’m assuming he’s heard of it.  He may or may not have walked across the mound with the intention of getting under Dallas Braden’s skin — maybe it was just a brain lock — but his response was truly intended to.

The “handful of wins” line was particularly egregious. As a person who occasionally gets ripped because he doesn’t have the background and experience many others do in this business, it hits a little close to home. I hate it when guys make irrelevant appeals to authority like that. I’m guessing everyone on the Athletics team, all of whom are younger than Rodriguez, hate it too.  It’s probably going to get A-Rod a ball in the back the next time these teams face each other. Which will set off a whole other set of unwritten rule compliance and analysis, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

As for Braden, I like his pluck.  The “get off my mound” is a bit too Gunnery Sgt. Hartman for me, but good for him for not backing down from what he perceived to be a challenge to his authority and dignity and all of that stuff. Get off my obstacle, Pvt. Rodriguez.

Of course if he gets lit up for seven runs in three innings the next time he faces the Yankees, he will have lost this match in the third set. Fair? I dunno, but that’s just how it works when you starting playing these macho, territorial games.

UPDATE: Speaking of territorial games, Flip Flop Fly Ballin’ has mapped out this whole issue in terms that I think all of us can understand.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.