Bobby Valentine is a convenient scapegoat, but he’s not what’s ailin’ the Sox

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Well, not totally anyway. He has his share of the blame — some odd bullpen choices in the past week for one — but the “Bobby V has killed the Red Sox” stuff is probably out of hand at the moment. And, as Rob Bradford notes, the reason is pretty understandable. It’s Boston, and this is what Boston does:

So, Valentine continues to offer up fodder for those trying to suggest he is the be-all, end-all for this Red Sox start. It’s a lay-up for some, just like the beer and the chicken were in October. Symbolism. People love symbolism …   But what the reality should do is offer a reminder there are far more important issues for the Red Sox to deal with than the manager making verbal missteps.

The problems: the bullpen, obviously. It’s not been all about Valentine’s late hook, it’s been about putrid performances. Terry Francona wouldn’t have had any better options to go to during that meltdown on Saturday than Valentine did. Which is why the Sox are now gonna dabble with Daniel Bard back in the pen, at least in the short term.

The rotation has been pretty horrifying too. As have the injuries. As have Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis. As have injuries, most notably to Jacoby Ellsbury.

The team has one real structural problem — the pen — a lot of terrible early performances that are likely to improve and some injuries, which everyone goes through from time to time.  Yeah, their manager has been sub-optimal, but he’s not the whole story. And for as much fun as it is to talk about him, it’s probably time we let up on Bobby V.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.