You should love the Cardinals because they uphold “strong values”

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The one thing that sorta sucks about the playoffs is how much downtime there is between games. And with downtime people kill time. And a big way to kill time in the playoffs is for fans of one team to hate on fans of another team and all of that garbage.  We see it every year.

The Braves were the early object of hate, but the Cardinals are clearly out front now. Which is not a new phenomenon. Hating on the Cardinals and their fans rarely goes too far out of style thanks to (a) their ubiquity in the playoffs in recent years; (b) the whole “Best Fans in Baseball” thing; and (c) the recent “we play the game the right way, Yasiel Puig is unprofessional” thing currently sweeping the baseball nation.

There are laughs to be had with all of that stuff and we have had our share of laughs. But it’s all kinda meaningless. It’s bad enough when people judge themselves or others by how good the team they root for is. Judging yourself or others based on your team’s fans is a step further into lunacy. News flash: someone, somewhere, hates your team and thinks it’s dumb. And maybe thinks you’re dumb for rooting for them. It’s just part of sports even if it is, well, dumb. Fact is, if someone hates you or your team it’s more likely than not because your team has done well at some point recently, so rather than get bent out of shape about it, just own it like Cartman owned Scott Tenorman’s tears.

Yet, to some folks, it’s still jarring that anyone could possibly dislike their team. Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist is a Cardinals fan. And she’s shocked, frankly:

When I told him I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, the mood shifted. “I loathe the Cardinals,” he said. “That’s impossible,” I replied. Nobody hates the Cardinals. We’re a well-run organization with strong values. Our fans are the best in baseball. Hating the Cardinals is like punching your mother. Even if you were tempted, you just wouldn’t do it … In a world with O.J. Simpson and Aaron Hernandez, it may be harder to uphold sports as an outgrowth of American values. But just because there’s been a breakdown in some places doesn’t mean that ball clubs that at least try to uphold values should be loathed.

Go read the whole thing. She really and truly wants to tell you why something that is inherently irrational (i.e. sports fandom and the biases it fosters) is irrational. You are wrong to hate the Cardinals, you see. She’ll explain it to you in terms of the Cardinals’ values.

Which, if you didn’t hate the Cardinals and their fans before you read that, you sure as hell do now.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.