Brewers Braves Baseball

Stop being slaves to baseball’s stupid macho orthodoxy

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Just to review, my take on the Braves-Brewers thing last night is that while Carlos Gomez was certainly out of line, Brian McCann and the Braves were too and that they are the ones responsible for what should have been a minor thing turning into a fight that caused punches to be thrown and a player (Aramis Ramirez) to be hurt. McCann’s walking up the baseline to confront Gomez was pretty damn provocative and immature, frankly, and the playoff-bound Braves should be both smarter and better than that.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Gomez made a full public apology for his behavior after the game. I’ve yet to hear McCann or his teammates do the same.

But the larger takeaway here is my continued amazement at the pro-Braves, pro-Brian McCann sentiments among commenters and Twitter folk.  The sentiments basically hold what a commenter said in this morning’s And That Happened:

Brian McCann was just acting the team leader on the last home stand of his 8 yr career on a team struggling to get going before the playoffs. The player quotes show the team loved the move. A blogger may not like making the stand but obviously you’ve not speaking for MLB players.

I can’t tell you how many people responded to me with some variation of this last night. “NO ballplayer would stand for Gomez’s taunting!” they say. “This is how it has always been in baseball!”  There’s an added dose of “How can you not defend the team you root for,” which is beyond stupid, but I’ve come to accept the fact that most fans have a double-standard when it comes to their team’s behavior compared to that of other teams.

As for the “team leader” jive, well, that’s pretty stupid too. A team leader doesn’t do things which harm his team’s chances to win games, and by instigating a fight that’s what McCann did. He should have been ejected and is lucky he wasn’t. Freddie Freeman was. Reed Johnson and McCann probably face suspensions now, which will further hurt the team at some point. All for what? To protect the Braves honor? Against what? Carlos Freakin’ Gomez? 

Fact is, if the Braves had just let Gomez taunt his head off, the only conversation afterward and into today would’ve been how childish and immature Carlos Gomez is. No one would’ve cared. No one would’ve thought less of the Braves. The only people who believe otherwise are the sorts of people who are far too hung up on honor and ego to begin with. The sorts of people who are so hung up on baseball’s hidebound unwritten rules and codes of conduct that they probably wake up each morning and say a brief prayer to a candlelit portrait of Tony La Russa embracing Chris Carpenter.

Spare me. Spare me the “no player would stand for that!” and the “you must not know anything about baseball if you think the Braves were out of line” baloney, tough guy. There are all sorts of things people do because they’ve always been done. That doesn’t make them right or proper or mature even if does make them something less than unexpected.

If you want to defend McCann and the Braves’ increasing fixation on the proper behavior by opponents when they hit home runs (see, Jose Fernandez and Bryce Harper) make an argument for such behavior being reasonable on the merits without reference to tradition. And if you do, tell me if you act like that — if you get in people’s faces, preach what is proper and what is not and push things to the point of fisticuffs — when you confront the abundant immaturity all of us see every day in real life.

And if you say that baseball is different and that baseball is not “real life” and is thus subject to its own rules, explain why that should be so.  Because I see no reason why it should be that way, even if everyone has always assumed that it is. And even if Brian McCann, Tony La Russa and whoever else protects these brain-dead codes says so.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.04.09 AM
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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: