Still lovin’ the Dan Uggla trade. My friend Stephen Silver pretty much summed up the whole deal last night when he tweeted “I had no idea they were giving away free Dan Ugglas today. I wish my team had known in advance.” Yep.
But one thing has struck me in the aftermath of the trade: people calling Dan Uggla a “blue collar” player. The Miami Herald’s Marlins blog called him “a blue collar workhorse” this morning. The Herald’s Mark Spencer called him “the blue-collar slugger” in the paper’s main story. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called him “as blue-collar as they come” yesterday. Those quotes have been re-tweeted, blogged and mentioned on message boards all over the place since the trade went down. And if you think Joe Simpson isn’t going to call Uggla “blue collar” ten times in the first month of Braves telecasts next season, well, you’re just not that familiar with his work.
Such a curious description. I assume it refers to work ethic, but I can’t help but think it’s really just another form of “gritty” and “gamer” and the sorts of adjectives which are applied almost exclusively to white ballplayers. I love me some Dan Uggla and I’m going to root for him like crazy next season, but ask yourself: if a black ballplayer was (a) known for home runs; (b) was pretty crappy on defense; and (c) just turned down a four-year, $48 million contract that just about everyone in baseball thought was more than fair, would he be called “blue collar?” I kinda doubt it.
And while we’re at it, the guy Uggla was traded for played wherever he was asked, hustled and didn’t make much money. So tell me: why isn’t Omar Infante the blue collar guy in this trade?
The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.
Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.
Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.