We see a lot of beer and champagne celebrations after teams clinch, well, everything. When I’m feeling particularly grumpy and humorless I tend to think that maybe teams should save such celebrations until they win the pennant at the very least because, really, these things are getting a bit rote and scripted and isn’t one celebration enough?
When I’m not feeling grumpy, however — and that’s most of the time — I realize that these are grown men who can and should be able to do whatever the hell they want. And in no instance is my objection to them going to be some sort of puritanical “this is all too much alcohol and debauchery” thing. Unlike Buzz Killington here:
The stunning excess exhibited in these celebrations is perhaps the biggest problem of all. This isn’t a matter of just popping a cork or two or 10; this is an all-out, binged-up, beer and champagne blast. It would be one thing if it were being done in private, but it’s not. It’s there for all of us to see, and it will repeat itself over and over again in the coming weeks.
That was actually Christine Brennan of USA Today, who could not be reached for comment because she was off thinking of the children someplace. Mostly Bryce Harper, who she mentions a lot in this story even though it seemed like the Nationals and Harper took great pains to not have the underage kid drink. Fair enough, though. You don’t want scenes of teenagers boozing it up.
Beyond that, however, I’d personally rather see these team-sanctioned booze blasts than to have them curtailed, which encourages the players to go out on the town to party. Because if it’s official, you have to imagine that the team is making sure the players all have sober rides home. And as far as I can recall, we’ve never had a DUI incident after one of these clinching blow-outs. Do it off-site and you’re inviting chaos.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.