Reader Ben alerts me to this story: A high school sophomore pitcher who can throw 80 MPH with a “wicked curve” gets cut from his high school team because he can’t field bunts all that well.
Oh, the fact that he happens to have two prosthetic legs may have something to do with it. And did I mention that the kid was a cover boy for an ESPN Magazine story about athletes with prosthetics? Yeah, this is a poop-storm, alright.
Where you come down on this probably correlates pretty nicely with where you believe high-pitched, winner-take-all competition in sports should begin. Is that on a varsity high school team? Earlier? Later? And the subject raises a host of other ethical questions:
- Should this kid’s teammates expect only the most able athletes to go into battle with them, or is pretty darn good but flawed good enough for high school baseball?
- Do we give this kid extra points for determination and courage that we wouldn’t give to an otherwise able-bodied pitcher who can’t field bunts because, hell, he just doesn’t have the reflexes?
- Is it somehow unfair to the other teams that shame will prevent them from laying down bunts if this kid were pitching when they’d certainly do it if, say, a fat kid were pitching?
I’m inclined, based on the information presented, to think the coach here is a jackass and that he should have found a way to keep the kid on the team. And that’s certainly the narrative that tends to get created in these situations. But I don’t pretend to have all of the answers on this stuff either. Any time you get into this subject there are unexpected advocates on either side.
There are disabled people who contend that any special treatment (i.e. letting the kid pitch even if he has trouble fielding his position) does the disabled person a disservice. There are likewise some people who can never look past the prosthetic legs no matter what the performance. There are also some people who will ignore the unintended consequences of either course of action because paying attention to such things doesn’t jibe with their world view.
Personally, I see any argument that is grounded in a belief that an ultra-high level of competition in high school baseball should be inviolate to be a rather pathetic one. But I’ll grant that it’s more complicated than saying “player good, coach bad!” and relying on the expected sympathies as well.
Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.
It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with MLB.com’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.