Buzzfeed has waded knee-deep into derp:
See, the thing about this is that while “hype in social media age” can, indeed, be tricky, baseball players are not properly assessed by their “hype in the social media age.” “Sharknado” got a lot of hype in the social media age too. No one has mistaken it for a good movie.
Likewise, no one who knows anything about baseball thinks that Yasiel Puig is anything akin to “a poor man’s Jeff Francoeur.” While raw and while, on occasion, known to chase bad pitches, that’s pretty much where the comparisons stop. No one chases bad pitches like Francoeur. Puig’s power is immense and natural and his home run stroke is not dependent upon guessing so often like Francoeur’s is. He has shown some patience as well. At the moment he has 23 walks in 296 plate appearances in his age 22 season. Francoeur walked 23 times in his age-22 season. In 686 plate appearances.
But such comparisons seem silly because it’s simply undeniable that Puig is the better player than Francoeur ever was at any time in his minor or major league career and has the potential to be much, much better. We cheapen him with a comparison based on the most superficial first impression of each and the “hype in the social media age” stuff. Even at the time of his 2005 breakout most observers knew that Francoeur was playing way above his head. Most observers now likewise believe that — though his current stat line is a bit inflated by a fast start — Puig is not doing anything that is truly unexpected.
So, yes, it’s an unfair comp. It’s like clicking on the Buzzfeed article in question, seeing lots of pictures and large text and thinking that it’s a publication aimed at preschoolers.
And that’s not the case at all, is it?
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.
This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.
Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.
There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.