A call for civility in player criticism

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The other night D.J. pointed us to Barry Svrluga’s heart wrenching story about Chad Cordero, who lost his infant daughter to SIDS back in December.  Yesterday, Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Analysts — himself a father of three young girls — reflected on Cordero’s loss and how that changes the nature of the player-fan relationship for him:

We have no idea what is going on in the minds of most players. Some will say that MLB players are paid a lot of money to perform, and I agree that by accepting those salaries they do put themselves into a position that requires performance no matter the circumstance. That said, no amount of money can force a human being to shutter his personal life into a small area of his mind and simply forget about it when taking the field. I wonder how quick we might be to jump to conclusions regarding things like effort and character if we knew more about players, if we knew about the guy struggling with a poor or abusive marriage, or a dying parent, or a child on drugs. Would we be so quick to judge?

We’re so quick to boo. Or to mock. Or to snark. And when we do so, we often do it in personal terms despite the fact that all we know about most of these players is how they perform on the field. I think most of us don’t think about the distinction between the player and person very often so it’s not like we’re trying to be jerks. But sometimes, yeah, we’re jerks.

Moshe’s suggestion: to not say or write something about a player that we wouldn’t say to his face. I think that may take things too far as, in practice, face-to-face interactions are often pretty bad vehicles for honesty, and sometimes you need to be honest about a player and his performance. But I do take Moshe’s meaning. A little civility and understanding goes a long way and we’d all be wise to apply those things liberally.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.