Sports Illustrated runs a fascinating profile of Jayson Werth this week. It’s very long, very good and is worth a full and thoughtful read, but one passage from the first page stood out at me:
Werth is quick to deflect questions that demand introspection. He
agreed to an interview only if no questions involved his wife, his two
kids or any aspect of his private life. The rest of his relatives are
off limits too. Asked–gingerly–if he would pass along the number of his
mother, the former track star Kim Schofield Werth, he snaps, “My mom is
unavailable. She just got her phone number unlisted and moved from
Illinois to the Ozarks.” Ditto his stepfather, the former big leaguer
Dennis Werth: “I’ve got his number in my cell, but I’m not giving it
“I don’t see why he has to share his thoughts about me with the rest of the world.”
If I were thrust out into to the public spotlight like that I would probably feel equally protective of my privacy and my family, so I have no criticism of Werth for this.
But, to the extent people are still thinking that it would be a great idea to sign a big long term deal with the Yankees, the quoted passage is a pretty good indication that life for Werth in New York would be something approaching hell. The press simply demands more of a player there, and to survive as a big money player in the Big Apple you either have to (a) be a smooth and professional PR assassin like Derek Jeter; or (b) you have to be a self-effacing and personable character like Nick Swisher or someone.
Based on this glimpse of Werth — and I admit, it’s only a glimpse — he doesn’t seem to fall in the “New York-Friendly” category of superstars.
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.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.
This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.
Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.
There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.