I know a lot of you are at-work-only readers and actually try to have lives and/or watch football on the weekend. Whatever, I can’t stop you from doing silly things.
If you are one of those people with bad priorities, however, we would like you to know that there was all kinds of fun playoff activity over the weekend, we were writing about it, and here is a little rundown of what you missed:
- The Rangers and Braves are gone thanks to the wild card game, the A’s and Giants are down 0-2 to the Tigers and Reds, respectively, the Yankees hold a 1-0 lead on the Orioles and the Nats have the same on the Cards.
- There was an awful infield fly rule call in Atlanta on Friday which, for some reason, Braves fans are starting to believe was the reason they lost that game as opposed to Braves players throwing the ball all over the infield and leaving runners in scoring position. Whatever. That call was bad, but it didn’t cost the Braves the game. The Braves cost the Braves the game.
- That awful call caused Braves fans, for the first time in living memory, to display passion. So I guess something good came out of it all! Actually, no: that was just pathetic, Braves fans. Just uncalled for bull, and I was rather embarrassed to count myself in your number on Friday night. There is never an excuse to throw stuff on the field. I doubt baseball would do it in a playoff game, but that’s the kind of thing that could have caused a forfeit. Go back to watching Georgia football, you jerks, and let us few dozen real Braves fans continue to root for our team in a quiet, but far more dignified manner.
- Despite last night’s ninth inning implosion against the Yankees, the O’s have had something to celebrate in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
- In contrast, the Rangers skipper and star player caught some heat. And the star suggests that he’s played his last game for the Boys from Arlington.
- And in contrast to that, Dusty Baker hinted that he will be back with his team next year.
- The Atheltics are wearing a logo in memory of Pat Neshek’s son. Pat Neshek showed heart supreme by taking the ball and pitching. The A’s bats were silenced by Justin Verlander.
- The Reds’ ace? Not as good. Johnny Cueto threw eight pitches and left with back spasms in Game 1 of the NLDS. No worries, though, the Reds had it all along.
- In Game 2, the A’s pen shows that all the work its been getting of late may be taking its toll. Don Kelly, meanwhile, plays hero.
- Oh, and the A’s are not a big fan of Al Albuquerque, who planted a wet one on a baseball before making a putout. Hey man, let no one judge someone else’s love.
- The Nats — despite Gio Gonzalez acting like he was the singer in a Rick Ankiel cover band — beat the Cardinals.
- Bronson Arroyo stymied the Giants in Game 2. People still say “stymied,” right?
- CC Sabathia shows us all the value of an ace. The Orioles’ bullpen shows us that the post season is a whole new ballgame.
- The San Francisco Giants’ offense is on the side of milk cartons, asking “have you seen me?”
And we keep on going today: the Nats and Cardinals play in St. Louis at 4:37 PM Eastern time. The Orioles and Yankees play in Baltimore at 8:07 PM.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that Young will receive a two-year, $13 million contract from the Red Sox.
Monday, 1:47 PM: Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.
Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.
This is not a terribly big deal compared to the rumors of who the Marlins want to hire as their hitting coach, but it’s news all the same: Miami has hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach.
Nieves replaces Chuck Hernandez who was let go immediately after the season ended. Under Hernandez Marlins pitchers allowed 4.19 runs a game and had an ERA of 4.02, striking out 1152 batters and walking 508 in 1,427 innings. As far as runs per game go, that was around middle of the pack in the National League, just a hair better than league average. The strikeout/walk ratio, however, was third to last in the NL.
Nieves, a former Brewers hurler who once tossed a no-hitter, was most recently the Red Sox’ pitching coach, serving from the beginning of the 2013 season until his dismissal in May of this year.
“Second place is first loser” — some jerk, probably.
The funny thing about “winning is everything” culture in sports is that it’s revered, primarily, by people with the least amount of skin in the game. Self-proclaimed “Super Fans” and talk radio hosts and guys like that. People who may claim to live and breathe sports but who, for the most part, have other things in their lives. Jobs and families and hobbies and stuff. Winning is everything for them on the weekend at, like, Buffalo Wild Wings or in their man cave.
Athletes — whose actual job is to play sports — like to win too. They’re certainly more focused and committed to winning than Joe Super Fan is, what with it being their actual lives and such. But you see far less “winning is everything” sentiment from them. In interviews they talk about how they hate to lose but, with a little bit of distance, they almost always talk about appreciating efforts in a well-played loss. They rarely talk about big losses — even championship losses — as failures or choke jobs or disgraces of one stripe or another.
All of which makes this story by Tim Rohan in the New York Times fun and interesting. It’s about championship rings for the non-championship winners. The 2014 Royals — winners of the A.L. pennant but losers of the World Series — are featured, and the story of rings for World Series losers is told. Mike Stanton, who played on a ton of pennant and World Series-winning teams with the Yankees and Braves, talks about his various rings and how, even though the Braves lost in the World Series that year, 1991 is his favorite.
Also mentioned: George Steinbrenner’s thoughts about rings for World Series losers. You will likely not be surprised about his sentiments on the matter.
For the next day and a half you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.
By midnight on Wednesday teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. Now, to be clear, the team is not simply “tendering” the player the actual contract specifying what he’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture — a placeholder contract — at that point the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2016 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.
If the team non-tenders a player, however, that player immediately becomes a free agent, eligible to sign anywhere with no strings attached.
Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2015, he’s probably going to be non-tendered.
MLB Trade Rumors has a handy “Non-Tender Tracker” which lists the status of the couple hundred arbitration eligible players and whether or not they’ve been tendered a contract. We’ll, of course, make mention of notable non-tender guys as their status for 2016 becomes known over the next day or two.