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.”
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
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.