What they're saying about the Ryan Howard deal

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Ryan Howard happy.jpgI said plenty yesterday, but so did a lot of other people. Here’s some of it, starting with the sort of hyperbole that may inspire ESPN to place Jayson Stark under psychiatric evaluation for the next 72 hours, and ending with Matt Swartz at Baseball Prospectus, with what is probably the most middle-ground take I’ve seen.

  • Jayson Stark: It’s quite a tale, all right, for a player who looked as if he was
    going to be blocked by Thome from ever playing in Philadelphia, who
    didn’t get a chance to play every day until age 25, and who only got
    that shot because Thome hurt his elbow in July 2005.But once
    Howard got his chance, he decided to turn himself into his generation’s
    Babe Ruth at the plate.
  • Rob Neyer: The Phillies have done a lot of things right over the last few years.
    But this is a big bowl of wrong.
  • Kevin Kaduk: Even if you’re not fully convinced it’s a deadlock that Howard will turn into David Ortiz  over the next three years . . . you have to wonder why GM Ruben Amaro felt the need to do this deal almost two years earlier than necessary.
  • The 700 Level: Will Phillies fans in 2016 bemoan the $25 million Ryan Howard is
    getting paid that year? Perhaps. But most Phillies fans can barely make
    plans for next weekend let alone five years from now. That’s why Ruben
    Amaro Jr. gets paid to make important, long lasting decisions like this
    one. It’s amazing how every Joe on Twitter turns into a soothsayer on
    days
    like today. Only time will tell if this one pays off down the road. Until
    then, enjoy watching Ryan Howard play first base for your Phillies.
  • Phil Sheridan: Everybody wins. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up Ryan
    Howard’s time here.
  • Matthew Carruth: When the news first broke and the details started to emerge, I was
    tempted to fill this entire article with just me laughing. My co-writers
    convinced me that while an appropriate response, that was not quite
    informative enough so I have relented and will actually map out the
    value of Ryan Howard’s new extension. I’m laughing pretty hard, though, in case
    you wanted to picture it.
  • David Murphy: I’m not surprised that they decided to sign Howard now, but I would’ve
    thought that any deal would come only as a result of some obvious
    concessions on Howard’s part.
  • Jonah Keri: 5 years, $125 million for Ryan Howard!!! A
    financial quagmire that’ll make the Iraq War look like a slap fight [note: pro-Howard comments don’t have the market cornered on hyperbole].

  • Balls, Sticks and Stuff: Once you get past the initial feel-good wave and you really start to
    examine the contract, things get a bit scary. Think about it, when Ryan
    Howard is in his mid/late-30’s, he’ll be getting paid like one of the
    best players in baseball when the chances of him actually being that
    type of player are slim.
  • Matt Swartz: If you listened to the roar of the sabermetricians, you would think the
    Phillies had thrown nine figures at Juan Castro . . . On the other hand, if you listened to the roar of the old-school
    writers, you would think the Phillies had stolen an MVP off the market
    at a discount . . . The reality is that Howard falls somewhere between these two extremes.
    The contract is far from spectacular, but it is unlikely to be an
    albatross.

A fun project for which I’ll try to make the time later today:  tracking the reactions of those who support this deal against those same people’s reactions to the Alex Rodriguez contract. I have this feeling that it would lead to a pretty interesting lesson about how much value there is to being a likable player when it comes to media treatment of your mega-deal.

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

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Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

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Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.