Many people thought that the Yoenis Cespedes would sign with the Marlins. He’s Cuban! It’s Miami! It fits so perfectly! And then it didn’t happen, of course.
In light of all of the Ozzie Guillen stuff, it seems pretty smart, no? Because who would want any part of that minefield? Not Cespedes, that’s for sure. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
“Miami’s very political, and he feels more at ease, more relaxed here,” said Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, the longtime announcer who’s working on the A’s Spanish broadcasts this year. “When I met (Céspedes), I said, ‘I will not ask you anything political.’ He said, ‘Even if you did, I won’t talk about it.’
“From that indication, he doesn’t want to get involved. He just wants to play ball. He could be idolized in Miami, but the pressure would be humongous … The Marlins never had a big Cuban superstar (hitter). He could be a hero on that team, but if he lays an egg, the pressure could be bigger than in Oakland.”
Pressure to perform, sure. But what happens the first time he does a putatively fluff interview for the Sunday insert and says something like “I met Castro at a state dinner once. He could really dance well” and he doesn’t back that up with a condemnation of his policies?
He doesn’t need that kind of trouble.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.