Ozzie Guillen had a nice rant yesterday, explaining that one of his few rules as a manager is making sure all players are on time and in the dugout when the National Anthem is performed before each game.
And because Ozzie is Ozzie, the explanation for why that’s so important to him was both insightful and full of profanity. Here’s an excerpt, via Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:
One thing that really pisses me off, if you’re not there for the National Anthem. That’s the only rule I have. If you can’t go by that easy one, then we’ve got problems. … You’re late for the [expletive] National Anthem? The National Anthem is [expletive] 10 minutes before the game starts. We’re going to start in 10 minutes and you’re late?
“I was in the [bathroom].” You got an hour and a half between batting practice and the National Anthem to [use the bathroom]. Too bad. Respect your teammates. Respect the flag. A lot of people have been killed to make this country free for us. You should be there for at least two minutes. Respect that, especially if you come from another [expletive] country, you should be there an hour before.
Guillen was born in Venezuela, came to the United States in 1980 when he signed with the Padres, and became a citizen in 2006. It’s pretty interesting to hear just how much the National Anthem means to him, because my guess is that many American-born players, managers, and fans probably take it for granted as merely something that occurs before they can start playing each night.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.