So torn here. I love what Evan Gattis has done with the Braves so far. Highlight reel moments, power when it has been needed and he is a great story. But I almost wonder if he’s too great a story.
We cant’ seem to go a day without hearing some new Gattis-is-Kane-from-Kung-Fu tale. Stuff about him walking the Earth, smashing baseballs, dispensing wisdom, being legendary. The latest, from Mark Bradley of the AJC, on a conversation between Fredi Gonzalez and Gattis in spring training:
The manager had sought to tell Gattis, who was on the brink of making the Atlanta Braves’ 25-man roster, to relax. Whereupon Gattis said, “Do you want to win?” Whereupon Gonzalez said he did. Whereupon Gattis said: “If you care about winning, you need me on this team.”
That’s such a great story the day after he hits a big grand slam. But when, inevitably, he goes into an extended slump, it’s not gonna mean a lot.
Sorry if that makes me a killjoy. I just hate to see stories and myths and personas built up with respect to ballplayers. The game is gonna humble everyone at some point and all of the meaning in those stories is gonna evaporate pretty quickly. And it will cause unnecessary backlashes among certain kinds of fans and it’s all just so much noise about a person we really don’t know as well as the storytellers would have us think we do.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.