We saw the the Jerry Manuel-John Maine argument last week and that was fun, but a dustup on Sunday between closer Francisco Rodriguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann had escaped our notice.
The way I read it on Sunday night — and this came straight from K-Rod in the game stories that were written — was that guys in the bullpen were just roughhousing and having fun (“We were just fooling around . . .we were just kidding with each
other” he said). I and most everyone else figured no biggie and didn’t mention it. That’s not really what happened, however:
But two people in the Mets organization confirmed that the confrontation
between Rodriguez and Niemann was indeed a heated one and might have
escalated if other pitchers had not intervened.
The source of the dispute, the New York Times reports, is K-Rod’s overuse. It seems he doesn’t like the fact that Jerry Manuel has him warm up multiple times a game, getting five-out saves, and the like.
My first impulse is to tell Rodriguez to cry me a river. He’s paid a metric butt-ton of money, and if any reliever in baseball should be expected to go the extra mile, it’s him.
My second impulse, however, is to think that Jerry Manuel has probably never had that conversation with him, the constant warmups are thus rather disorienting to K-Rod and he’s not completely sure what’s being asked of him. One way to solve this: have Manuel tell K-Rod that he’s expected to be a Gossage-style relief ace. I bet if it was couched in those terms he’d dig it.
Of course, all that assumes that that’s what Manuel is doing here rather than simply panicking and calling for his closer to warm up eleventeen times a game. Which may not be the safest assumption on the planet.
Either way, the Mets should probably remember that everyone loves a winning team that fights among themselves (e.g. the 1970s A’s and Yankees). No one likes a last place team that does it.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.
This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.
Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.
There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.