Progressive Field

The Indians to their fans: if you you only care about winning baseball, don’t come out to see us play

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That’s a paraphrase, of course. The actual quote from team President Mark Shapiro goes like this, reports Bruce Hooley of ESPN Cleveland, which I did not know existed until just now:

“If you base your decision to come to the game on whether we win or lose, don’t come. You’re missing out. You’re missing out on what baseball is all about, and I’m fine with that.”

That is Shapiro’s more full followup to what is apparently some sort of minor controversy in Cleveland following his appearance on a local TV. A fan emailed him to ask why they should renew their season tickets for 2013. Shapiro said then, that if all the guy cared about was winning “don’t come.”

I can see why such a position would be controversial — fans have come to expect the old rah-rah and we’re number one stuff from members of their team — but Shapiro is right. The Indians aren’t likely to win a lot next year. Saying so should not be controversial as long as he can demonstrate that the team wants to win and is trying. Personally I’d rather my team’s brass be realistic about the local nine as long as they aren’t resigned.

But more broadly, it’s a sentiment I have agreed with ever since I fell in love with the 1987 Braves, who stunk on ice. Baseball is awesome. Come out and see baseball if you have the time and the means. It’s a lot more fun when your team wins but, jeez, it’s still a lot of damn fun when they don’t.

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.