Why the Dodgers' mystic energy man matters

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Rasputin.gifI got an email a few minutes ago that reflects a sentiment I’ve seen numerous times since the Dodgers’ Svengali story came out last night:

Do you ever write anything positive about
the
Dodgers? That’s the first place Dodgers. They are currently getting
terrific
pitching and playing solid baseball. I believe they have the best record
in
baseball for the past month and just swept the Cards. You are missing
some fun
baseball.

I get it: don’t beat up on the McCourts because the Dodgers have played good baseball for a couple of years. What’s a couple hundred thousand dollars to a quack if the team is winning?

I suppose that’s fair, but only to a point. And the point is this: the Dodgers have totally out-sized revenue streams compared to their divisional rivals in San Francisco, San Diego, Colorado and Arizona.  Imagine how big their lead would be — year-in, year-out — if those resources were channeled into smart baseball decisions instead of energy-channeling physicists and the never ending parade of extravagance we’ve heard about since the McCourt divorce kicked off.

The Dodgers do OK. But if the McCourts wanted to focus on running a tight baseball ship instead of entertaining fantasies of NFL stadiums in the parking lot, buying soccer teams and pursing whatever whim their copious amounts of money and apparent lack of sense sets them upon, they could be the West Coast Yankees, dominating the division. 

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.