Joe Girardi didn’t use A-Rod last night because he flirted with those women? Really?

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Ask yourself: do you really believe that Joe Girardi is the type of guy who would base an in-game decision on some fluffy nothing of a story in the New York Post before he’d base it on baseball considerations? If the answer is no, you’re not Bob Klapsich.

Klapisch’s column today tells the story of last night’s game and focuses, like so many others have focused today, on Girardi’s decision to not use A-Rod as a pinch hitter in the ninth.  Klapisch discounts any baseball rationale and says the real reason is tabloid silliness. He references the Post story and says:

A-Rod and GM Brian Cashman refused to discuss the story, but the organization was deeply embarrassed by it, especially since the Yankees were in the midst of getting swept in the first two games at home … So while Girardi insisted his decision to bench A-Rod was strictly a baseball-related move, his refusal to use the slugger in the ninth inning was unquestionably a smack-down for his behavior in New York.

Sorry, even if you claim it was unquestionably a smack-down, I’m gonna question it. I’m gonna question it because Girardi’s own explanation was that to pinch hit A-Rod would cause Leyland to bring in a righty, and there is nothing — not an anonymous quote or even a “sources say” — suggesting otherwise. I’m also going to question it because Girardi has never, as far as I can recall, gotten sucked into the New York tabloid drama, so why would he start now?

I’m sure Girardi wasn’t pleased to have a tabloid story floating around like that. I don’t doubt Klapisch’s report that the team as a whole was embarrassed.  But to believe Klapisch’s hypothesis, you’d have to believe that Girardi legitimately felt that punishing A-Rod for it was more important than putting his team in the best position to win last night. And there is nothing here suggesting such an astounding and unprecedented thing.

What is here is Girardi’s strategic analysis of the platoon problem and, most likely, his gut feeling that Rodriguez has absolutely no game at all right now. While one may reasonably disagree that Girardi’s call was the right one — I would have brought in Swisher, who would’ve eliminated platoon splits from the equation — that’s neither here nor there. Girardi said why he did what he did. To believe that there was more to it than that takes a bit more than someone’s assertion that it was “unquestionably so.”

Must-Click Link: Where’s Timmy?

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Tim Lincecum last pitched last season for the Angels and he did not pitch well. Over the winter and into the spring there were reports that he was working out at a facility somewhere in Arizona with an aim toward trying to latch on to another team. He didn’t. And, given how his velocity and effectiveness had nosedived over the previous few seasons, it was probably unrealistic to think he’d make it back to the bigs.

But now, as Daniel Brown of the Mercury News reports, he seems to simply be gone.

He’s not missing in any legal sense — his friends and family know where he is — but he’s out of the public eye in a way that most players at the end of their careers or the beginning of their retirements usually aren’t. He’s not been hanging around his old club, even though the Giants say they’d love to honor him and give him a job if and when he announces his retirement. He’s not hanging around his high school or college alma maters even though he makes his home in Seattle, where they are. He’s gone from being one of the most identifiable and conspicuous presences in baseball to having disappeared from the public eye.

Brown’s story is an excellent one, touching on Lincecum’s professional rise and professional fall, as well as the personality traits that may suggest why he’s not eager to be making headlines or posing for pictures. A good read.

 

Major League Baseball claims it will “redouble its efforts” on expanded netting

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Yesterday, during the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, a young girl was injured after a foul ball flew off the bat of Todd Frazier and into the stands along the third base line where she was sitting. In some parks that ball would be stopped because of netting down the line.

There was no netting that far down the line in Yankee Stadium, because (a) Major League Baseball does not require it; and (b) the Yankees have still not committed to expanding it like other teams have.

A few minutes ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement about the injury:

I’m not sure how baseball can “redouble” its efforts given that its efforts thus far have been to completely delegate the responsibility of expanded netting to the 30 clubs.

This delegation came in December of 2015 when Major League Baseball released its recommendation — not its mandate — that teams provide expanded netting. Teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate) and within 70 feet of home plate with protective netting or other safety materials of the clubs’ choice. At the same time, they launched “fan education” guidelines about where to sit and whether or not they’ll be protected.

While these recommendations were better than nothing, they also seemed far more geared toward diminishing the liability of the league and its clubs than actively protecting fans from screaming projectiles.

The stuff about fan education was obviously a creature of an assumption-of-the-risk calculus. It was, essentially, a disclaimer of the “don’t say we didn’t warn you” variety and, as such, was aimed more at shielding baseball from liability over batted ball or bat-shard injuries than at directly shielding fans from such injuries. Even the netting recommendation could be construed as MLB insulating itself from being joined in a lawsuit at a later date if a club were to get sued over a fan injury. A way of saying “hey, we told the Yankees [or whoever] that they should do more, please don’t sue us too.”

It’s one thing to do all of that and walk away, as the league seemed content to do in 2015. It’s another thing to walk back today, as Manfred is, claiming that the league will “redouble” such transparently ineffective efforts. It’s frankly insulting. Yet this is baseball’s approach to the matter. The league is, for whatever reason, afraid to tell its clubs that it has to do something that is so clearly prudent. It, apparently, is waiting for a someone to be killed by a foul ball before mandating netting rather than meekly suggesting it.

Oh, I’m sorry. Waiting for someone else to be killed. Because it has happened before. Absent prudent protections it will, inevitably, happen again.

While Major League Baseball may have been safe from being held responsible for such things due to its ticket disclaimers and assumption of the risk arguments in the past, it won’t be in the future. One would hope it will not take death or debilitating injury of a fan for the league to accept it.