We’ve taken many a shot at T.J. Simers over the years. And for good reason, as he’s taken many a shot — often extremely cheap shots — at ballplayers. It’s his shtick and he often does it with a wink, but it wears way, way worse when he’s using that shtick to attack undeserving targets like Marcus Thames than when he’s speaking Truth to Power or whatever it is he’s often credited with doing by his fans.
But whether you love Simers or love to hate him, you may not have him to kick around anymore. He’s been absent from the pages of the L.A. Times for pushing three months now and Mark Heisler writes today that Simers is likely on his way out.
The reason on the surface, the column notes, could be an ethical issue in which he based a column on his daughter and Dwight Howard having a free-throw contest days before it was announced that a TV comedy revolving around Simers and his daughter was in the works. The column goes on to suspect, however, that there may be deeper issues at play here in that Simers has a history of butting heads with the increasingly annoying L.A. Times hierarchy.
Heisler — who worked with Simers at the Times for years and provides all kinds of delicious backstory for those of you who like newspaper politics — uses the Simers story to launch into some thoughts about Simers’ role and the role of newspapers in today’s new media age. For all the interesting backstory, I think Heisler’s views about what Simers specifically and newspapers in general mean in the grand scheme of things are a bit anachronistic. Maybe newspapers are now being run by shortsighted, bottom-line-obsessed micromanagers and maybe that is a shame (I think it probably is). But to suggest that Simers’ departure is illustrative of the evolution of media is wrong. Great newspapermen from the past would’ve been just as wise to kick him to the curb as the empty suits are today.
To put it another way: maybe Simers is being pushed out for the wrong reasons, but it certainly is the right thing.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.