Pascual Perez fight

Two of Pascual Perez’s greatest hits

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Still bummed over the news of the death of Pascual Perez.  When I first started thinking about him I, and probably a ton of other people, immediately first thought of him being lost on I-285, desperately looking for the ballpark and ultimately missing his start because of it. A ballpark that was not, it should be noted, situated on or anywhere near I-285.

But there were a couple of other memorable Pascual Perez moments. Two that come to mind were rather ugly, but time and, sadly, uglier things, make us look a bit more fondly on them.

First was a brawl. Not the one you’re thinking of. That one is below. The one I’m thinking of took place on August 25, 1981 when Perez’s Pittsburgh Pirates faced the Los Angels Dodgers. Chris Jaffe wrote a full rundown last year.  The upshot: Perez plunked a couple of Dodgers. Reggie Smith took umbrage and made motions toward the Pirates dugout.  Nothing happened until …

After ending the inning, Perez motioned to Smith he’d meet him under the stands—pronto. Smith and Perez both raced through their clubhouses and into the tunnels, meeting up behind home plate under the stands. Both dugouts emptied following them. Players came, coaches came, even managers Chuck Tanner and Tommy Lasorda came.

The fight, like most fights, wasn’t much of a fight. Some stadium officials said there was some shoving, but no punches thrown. By the time the umpires tracked everyone down, the incident was already over. There were no ejections, and Perez pitched one more inning.

That’s pro wrestling stuff right there. Other than when Prince Fielder rushed the Dodgers clubhouse a few years ago, I can’t recall such a thing happening.

The second one is that famous brawl. A brawl the likes of which you never ever see in the majors anymore. Guys make too much money and know too many other players for things to escalate like this, I reckon.  But back in 1984 it was a different story.  It started when Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins. Which led to retaliation by Ed Whitson against Perez when he came to bat, which led to a huge fight. A fight which, if you watch the video below, you note that Perez just strolled away from without having a punch thrown at him:

In all, there were brawls in the second, fifth, eighth and ninth innings of this ONE game. One of them involved Champ Summers — who just passed away himself in recent weeks — with a Leeroy Jenkins rush of the Braves dugout. Though we’d all be horrified at such a thing happening in a game today, with nearly 30 years of distance, the whole affair was almost glorious in a perverse way.

Both the 1981 Dodgers and the 1984 Padres went to the World Series, so maybe Perez was a galvanizing force.

RIP Perimeter Perez.

White Sox ballpark to be renamed “Guaranteed Rate Field”

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  General view as members of the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins stand for the National Anthem before the White Sox home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Stadium naming rights have long been with us. They’re just a part of the sports landscape now. Some are pretty spiffy despite their corporate underwriting: “Great American Ballpark” could be the name of a sports facility even if it wasn’t also the name of an insurance company. “Progressive Field” could be the name of a field even an anti-corporate dude like Bernie Sanders could appreciate, at least if he’s sloppy with capitalization.

Others are clunky: “Globe Life Park in Arlington” seems to have both adjective and preposition problems, as if it were run through a foreign language translator and then back again to English. The joint in Oakland went by the name O.co Coliseum for a spell. That was for Overstock.com, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

At the risk of being snobbish, I think it’s fair to say that there are also higher and lower rent names as well. Banks, airlines and beer companies, however crassly commercial they are, seem a bit more respectable and venerable than, say, the fly-by-night dot com companies which named sports facilities for several years. “Chase” and “Coors” aren’t going anyplace. Those places are named after American institutions, even if they’re still corporate institutions. I’m pretty sure that circa 2001 half the stadiums and arenas in the country were named after businesses still being run out of tech incubators in nondescript office parks, their first biggest investment being the naming rights, their second biggest investment being the ping pong table in the break room.

The White Sox have long played in “U.S. Cellular Field.” This is pretty dicey as it is, given that that company is only a regional wireless provider. Fifth largest in the country. Certainly not A-list, and likely far more identifiable to more Americans as the name of a ballpark than the name of a going telecommunications concern, thereby sort of defeating the purpose of naming rights. Which must be why U.S. Cellular is getting out of the naming rights business, leaving the White Sox to find a different naming rights partner:

As the tenth largest mortgage company in the country, is there even any guarantee that Guaranteed Rate will be in business in 2030? If the choices are “it goes under,” “it gets purchased by a larger lender” and “it’s still there,” I am not putting money on the latter choice.

That aside, it’s just a goofy name for a ballpark. It’ll better lend itself to columnist jokes about bad guaranteed contracts for bust veterans than it will to spreading awareness of a financial services company. And don’t even get me started on the dissonance between the ballpark name and its tenant’s ticket price policies:

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Best work on that, guys.

UPDATE: LOL

 

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.