Jim Leyland is as mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore

14 Comments

Lost in Matt Garza’s no-hitter last night was the fact that Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland was ejected in the bottom of the third arguing an obviously blown call on B.J. Upton’s stolen base attempt.  Second base umpire Marty Foster called Upton safe. He was most definitely out. Leyland argued, but he didn’t do anything crazy. Foster tossed him, though.

Why? Watch the replay of the argument in the above link.  Foster made a big show of wiping his shirt off during the argument, right before he tossed Leyland.  Foster, Leyland says, accused Leyland of intentionally spitting on him.  Leyland ain’t having it:

“He accused me of something I didn’t do and that pissed me off and
that’s when I got going. I
had some sunflower seeds and when I was talking some sprayed on him and
he indicated that I deliberately spit on him.

“I’m not going
to take that from anybody. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take
that kind of accusation from anybody. That’s a blatant lie. Did some of the sunflower seeds spray on his shirt? Yes they did,
without any question. But I don’t even spit on the
ground.

“And I’m not going to take that. I’m tired of
protecting umpires. I’m tired of not being able to say anything. I’m
defending myself. If you want to kick me out, that’s fine. I don’t care
about that because it sprayed on his shirt, but when you start to accuse
somebody of doing something you better be careful.”

Leyland was asked what he’d do if he got suspended or something due to the alleged spitting. His response: “I don’t know what they’re going to do and I don’t give a s— . . .I’m tired of it.”

I don’t blame Leyland for being angry. Maybe you should get ejected if you’re arguing so much that some sunflower seeds land on the ump, but on what planet does an umpire actually think that Leyland was intentionally spitting on him, as Leyland says that Foster thought?

My guess: Foster knew he blew the call and was on edge anyway. When Leyland started giving him what-for, he was emotionally prepared to eject him as soon as possible out of sheer defense and insecurity. If, as Leyland says, Foster accused him of spitting intentionally, it was borne of some emotional need to grab whatever high ground he could in the course of the argument. My second guess: Major League Baseball watches the video and comes to the same conclusion, and that Leyland is not further disciplined.

But Foster won’t get disciplined either, of course, because disciplining an umpire would be pure crazy from Major League Baseball’s perspective.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-2-15-25-pm
Craig Calcaterra
Leave a comment

MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

tix

 

That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
3 Comments

The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.