I long ago abandoned the notion that MLB.com was Pravda or something, which is what I first thought it would be when it started up. The reporting there is very good, and sometimes great. Many of the MLB.com beat writers are much better than the newspaper guys who cover the same beat. Many of the columnists are aces. If they made videos instantly and freely embeddable I’d probably make the place my home page, but let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
But once in a while something shows up over there that makes me scratch my head. A year or two ago there was a five-part “analysis” of some of the labor issues facing baseball. After two parts were published, each of which basically left out the players’ side of the story and seemed to be pretty credulous of the owners’ claims, it abruptly ended. I’ve always wondered if the reporter who wrote that — a good reporter, by the way — was getting boned by heavy-handed editors and simply said that he couldn’t go on with it. And while it was a rare incident, I have kept it in mind when I read things over there. You just gotta keep your guard up whenever an institution is reporting on itself, as is the case with all of the league websites.
According to Bodley, Selig “had to endure the 1994-95 players strike,” when in fact he and like-minded owners fomented it. He talks about Selig’s early struggles to gain acceptance as Commissioner without acknowledging that, for whatever good things Selig has done since then, he basically took over in a palace coup, which makes his transition problems pretty darn understandable.
Bodley likewise positively spins the work of other Commissioners like Uberroth (he slayed the cocaine dragon!), Kuhn (he and Charlie Finley were nutty!) and Landis (he restored order after the Black Sox Scandal!) without noting that each of them — especially Landis — were just as responsible for baseball’s problems during their reign than they were for advancing the game. Commissioners are active players with their own agendas and they always have been. They’re not independent, Solomonic leaders.
Do I expect Bodley to viciously rip the Commissioners in an MLB.com piece? No. But A tongue bath is just as inappropriate in my view.
Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the proposed strike zone changes
It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”
Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.
I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.
As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.
Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.
Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.
The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.
Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.
Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.
Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.