Giving Thanks: The American League West

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We continue our look at what each team — and their fans — have to be thankful for this winter:

Texas Rangers: For the fates, good karma or whatever the hell it was that allowed this team to weather their manager’s cocaine revelations and a steel cage match of a team sale and bankruptcy without it tearing them asunder. Special thanks to the Mariners, for willingly trading an ace within the division and Major League Baseball, which OK’d the deal even though they were subsidizing the Rangers at the time.

Oakland Athletics: Dallas Braden, who stood bravely in defense of the A’s against those who would tread where opposing teams should not tread.  To be honest, though, not a ton to be thankful for. Yes, there’s some good young pitching, but it’s getting no help from the team’s owner who seems to be nickeling and diming his way through the baseball portion of his life, or from Major League Baseball, which couldn’t leave the team in an Oakland-San Jose limbo any longer unless it bent the space-time continuum to make history flow backwards. There are few beasts in this world for whom I feel more sorry than die-hard A’s fans. They deserve better, and they’re not getting it.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arte Morneo’s anger. It reportedly has him prepared to open the checkbook this winter in pursuit of Carl Crawford and maybe even more. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but when he bought this team he had it in his head that he was going to win all the damn time. A year of not doing it is probably a great thing for Angels fans over the long term.

Seattle Mariners: The sweet, merciful kiss of the season’s death on October 3rd, which put an end to their suffering. They can also be thankful that even if Jack Zduriencik signed Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee to league minimum deals, traded for Justin Upton and Zack Greinke and somehow managed to create a time machine through which he brought back Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez circa 1996, no one would have any crazy expectations for this team. Not after last winter, anyway, which leaves the possibility that fans will be pleasantly surprised at what happens in 2011.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.