We passed along word last week that the A’s were selling “Get off my mound” t-shirts in honor of the Yankees’ return to Oakland. Sounded like a great idea to me in a fun, self-effacing kind of way. But apparently they don’t do self-deprecation in the 209, because Dallas Braden hates the shirts:
“They’re trying to generate revenue, trying to get butts in the seats, I
can see that. It’s almost like, at what cost do you do
that? They didn’t have permission. They were told on multiple occasions
that, no, it’s not a good idea. It’s not going to be approved. They just
kind of put the horse-blinders on and ran with it . . . . . It’s just not cool. It’s just a serious, gross lack of tact. At the end
of the day, I hope I do not become associated with that kind of
Hey Dallas: if you didn’t want to be “associated with that kind of approach,” perhaps you shouldn’t have barked like some kind of loon about the sanctity of Greater Bradenia. As it is, you made a fool out of yourself and everyone is having fun with it now. Even A-Rod who, according to the Daily News article linked above, got a big laugh out of the fact that Robby Cano wore one of the shirts in the clubhouse before the game in order to taunt him.
Upon closer reading it’s hard to tell if Braden’s displeasure is about the shirt itself or if he’s really upset that it’s not MLBPA approved and thus (a) does not have his name and likeness on it; and (b) he does not get a cut of the sales. Probably a little of both. Which means that he’s got no sense of humor and that he’s trying to cover his business savvy with a mock (or at least mockable) sense of decorum.
Of course if Braden really wanted to get in on the shirt money, I’m assuming he could have told the MLBPA that he was all for it, they would have approved it and he’d have some extra dough. So this probably is more a matter of Braden being embarrassed about the whole “get off my mound” incident than it is a business thing.
In which case I’d advise him that one looks pretty silly trying to distance oneself from one’s own words in the space of a couple of months. Better to just own it dude.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.