Protestors to picket the Cubs-Dbacks game. I kinda wish they wouldn't

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As you probably know, Arizona passed a law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives
the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the
country illegally. Supporters believe it to be a necessary move to combat illegal immigration to the state. Opponents call it an open invitation for
harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their
citizenship status.  I have my own opinions about it all and I’m sure you do too, but that’s not terribly important in this forum because this forum is about baseball.

But the controversy over Arizona SB 1070 is now hitting baseball, as people are protesting the Arizona Diamondbacks wherever they go:

Today at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and in just about every city the team
visits, there is expected to be a protest outside the stadium against
Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070. One of the people organizing and encouraging such protests is Tony
Herrera, the Arizona representative for a national movement (it has a
Facebook page) called “Boycott Arizona 2010.”

“This team is an ambassador for Arizona,” Herrera told me. “And the
owner, Mr. (Ken) Kendrick, is a big supporter of Republican politics.
This new law was a Republican bill. Until the law is changed, there
should be protests.”

Some people are also suggesting that Major League Baseball take away the 2011 All-Star Game which will take place in Chase Field.  The odds of that happening are somewhere below the odds of Lou Dobbs joining those protests, but people are asking it all the same.

I like to rouse rabble as much as the next guy, but protests based on attenuated links kind of irk me. Yes, the Dbacks are from Arizona and yes the team’s owner — one of several dozen in a large ownership group, by the way — generally supports the party that sponsored the legislation, but the Diamondbacks and any fans heading to Wrigley Field this weekend are innocent bystanders here. I’m guessing they no more appreciate having a ballgame interrupted by immigration politicking any more than Super Bowl viewers were interested in listening to Tim Tebow go on whatever it was he was going on about in that boring little commercial that caused all the hubub.

People can obviously do what they want because the First Amendment is pretty damn awesome, but I can’t help but think these sorts of protests and calls for boycots are at best ineffective in furthering the protesters’ cause and potentially detrimental. If you’re running late to the game and you have to navigate a picket line outside the gate, you’re probably not going to be very sympathetic to the protester’s cause.  And if calls for boycotts are actually heeded they won’t hurt the owners of the Diamondbacks nearly as much as they’ll hurt the concession guys and stadium sweepers who get laid off because business is slow.  These things are great for some short-lived publicity, but short-lived publicity is generally not the best way to affect political change. That takes sustained activism, legal action and other less-sexy things than jumping in front of TV cameras.

But I guess my biggest beef with this sort of thing is that when I go to a baseball game, I’m looking to escape reality for a little while and it angries up my blood if I have to have to think about the real world for those three hours.  Maybe that makes me a bad citizen or something, but it’s how I feel. And I feel that way whether I agree with the protesters or not.

UPDATE: If you’re looking for more on this, BIll at the Daily Something has some.

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

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The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

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I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.