Wezen-Ball may be the first person to ever post the You Tube video of the opening to Game 3 of the 1989 World for a reason other than the earthquake. He posts it to show a really bad umpire’s call: Dave Parker being called safe at second in Game 2 when he was clearly out by a Buster Poseyian distance.
lar’s point is a good one: no big deal was made of it at the time. Not because it wasn’t an egregiously bad call. It clearly was. But because the means didn’t really exist for people to raise a fuss. It was 1989. The people who had a connection to the Internet then could probably fit in a single-A ballpark. If you wanted to moan about the call, you had to wait until the next morning and do it with coworkers at the water cooler or mimeograph machine or whatever kind of ancient technology populated offices back in 1989.
But I don’t think the lesson to take from this, though, is “there have been bad calls forever, so we should all stop complaining.” The lesson should be that bad calls today are different than bad calls 20 years ago. Not in their nature, but in their effect. The new technology that allows for instant complaining about things that have always happened may be annoying to the umpires and the league, but it has a real effect on fan sentiment. If we get a bad enough bad call — or if they simply continue to pile up like they have been — eventually it will cause fans to question the legitimacy of the competition. Or at the very least the reliability of the officiating. Such a dynamic could cause viewership to erode and the product to be damaged. This, more than anything else, is the argument for expanded replay in baseball.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.