Marlon Byrd and Vicente Padilla were teammates in Texas last year and when the Rangers released Padilla at midseason Byrd was very outspoken in praise of the move, saying:
About time. It’s absolutely a positive for this team. We have to get rid of the negatives to make a positive and I believe this is a huge positive. You have to be a good teammate. You have to help teach younger guys the right things. He wasn’t a positive influence on the young guys. You started questioning his character and about how much he cared.
Fast forward to a year later. Byrd is on the Cubs and Padilla is on the Dodgers, and they faced each other in the seventh inning of a blowout game last night. As you might have guessed Padilla plunked Byrd in the back, which is amusing given that part of Byrd’s problem with Padilla came from his tendency to hit batters and put his teammates in danger of retaliation.
Which is exactly what happened last night, as Byrd’s new teammate Andrew Cashner responded to Padilla plunking him by plunking Dodgers second baseman Blake DeWitt in the next inning. Oddly enough, Byrd didn’t have much problem with that, calling Cashner “a great teammate” and coyly talking about his “pinpoint accuracy” to make it clear the pitch had a purpose.
Cashner received high-fives in the dugout afterward and despite losing 7-0 the Cubs’ clubhouse was reportedly full of congratulations for rookie. Or as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune put it: “Happiest losing clubhouse in Cubs history.”
And in a fibbing contest, Cashner claimed the pitch to DeWitt simply “slipped” while Padilla claimed he never saw Byrd’s original quotes because “I don’t really read the papers.”
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.