Pudge Rodriguez to catch Nolan Ryan’s first pitch tomorrow. This bugs me a bit.

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Anthony Andro of the Star-Ledger reports that Ivan Rodriguez is going to catch the first pitch thrown out by Nolan Ryan before Game 3 of the World Series tomorrow.

Look, I know it’s Pudge, and that Pudge will always and forever thought of as a Ranger — and yes, I’m fully prepared to admit that I may be overrating — but does anyone else think it’s, well, sorta wrong for an active player under contract to be participating in pregame ceremonies for another team’s World Series game?

This is not like those situations in which a player — say, Derek Lowe, for example — takes part in his old team’s championship ring ceremony on Opening Day the next season. At least those guys were part of what is being celebrated. Rodriguez had nothing to do with the 2010 Texas Rangers’ success. He was the Nationals’ catcher and remains under contract with them for 2011. In very real terms he was competing against the Texas Rangers in 2010, in the same way all teams are competing with one another for the World Series title. Should he really be shaking hands, doing the photo ops and participating in the ceremony for the Rangers when he’s still a Nat?

I know Pudge is loved in Texas, but until he retires, he’s just a guy the Rangers used to know.  And in some way, this feels like a guy inviting his ex-girlfriend to his wedding.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.