All of these now, it seems, come with required name-calling. But sure, it’s the anti-Jack Morris types who lack civility and all of that jazz. This from Bill Madden:
I have no idea what Jack Morris’ career WAR is, any more than I have any idea what WAR itself is. I only know that the vigilante sabermetric brigade using all its advanced statistic formulas to contrive the case that Morris was somehow not a dominant No. 1 pitcher, probably never saw him pitch. I did, at least 40 times between postseasons and when Morris’ Tigers were in the American League East, and never once was he not the best pitcher in the game that day.
I love Madden’s use of the word “vigilante.” The definition of vigilante is a person who takes the law into their own hands and refuses to respect the established structures of power and justice. I don’t think he just threw that word out there as a lazy synonym for “obnoxious” or “hostile” or something. It clearly galls Madden that the Hall of Fame police force — the BBWAA — is being questioned, and he truly believes that non-BBWAA people making Hall of Fame assessments is akin to roving mobs and villagers with torches. Indeed, think that motivates a great number of these reactionary takes. For years guys like Madden were considered authorities about something. While they still are authorities with respect to many things — they are in the clubhouse after all — player assessment is clearly not one of them. It’s probably pretty scary for them. Poor dears.
Anyway, to Morris. As a kid growing up going to games at Tiger Stadium and catching Morris on WDIV-TV several times a year, I saw Jack Morris pitch far more than the 40 times Madden did. I may have been young, but since Madden is admitting not to know what a pretty well-accepted metric is, I don’t think his current knowledge base and my seven year-old through 21 year-old knowledge bases were that different.
For the bulk of that time I was actually rooting for Morris, so if anyone was going to consider him “the best” on the days he pitched, it was going to be a kid like me. But even through I wore those kid fan glasses I did not believe he was always “the best pitcher in the game that day.” I know this because I saw him face Ron Guidry, Roger Clemens, Dave Stieb and Frank Viola. Or why he didn’t cover Tigers games when Dan Petry pitched, because Peaches was better than Morris for several years too. Maybe Madden was always sick those days? Hard to say.
In any event, the numbers for Morris are pretty simple. The only ones using numbers to “contrive” a case about Morris’ Hall of Fame candidacy are the people like Madden who must find a way to make him look like a Hall of Famer when the numbers really say he is not one.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.