Don’t make Will Middlebrooks the goat for last night’s game

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post ponders whether or not Will Middlebrooks will become a goat after last night’s obstruction play. The headline — which I’m certain Davidoff did not write:

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Davidoff himself does not believe that Middlebrooks should not be a goat, saying “Middlebrooks “faces a future in which he might known be known best as the obstruction guy,” but notes that “it would represent a cruel fate.”

I couldn’t agree more. Middlebrooks has nothing to be ashamed of.

It would’ve been close to impossible for Middlebrooks to not have obstructed Craig. It was a totally s**t-happens situation. Maybe he could’ve knocked the throw down, keeping it from getting by him and causing Craig to stay at third, but that’s not what those who would make him a goat are likely to be on about. They’re going to talk about the obstruction itself. And as far as that goes, the rule has no intent element to it for a reason. Middlebrooks can not be said to have screwed up that part of it because he could not have possibly gotten out of the way.  And thus Middlebrooks should not be said to have messed up in any legacy-defining way.

If there is blame here, it can go to Farrell for not having his best defensive catcher in the game there. Or it can go to Saltilamacchia for throwing a ball he’d be better served putting in his back pocket. That kind of blame happens a lot, though. It’s run of the mill, “oof, bad move” stuff we see hundreds of times a year. It’s not Bill Buckner stuff.

But if people are looking for Buckner stuff — if they decide that Will Middlebrooks is some epic level goat here — it says way more about those people and human nature’s almost pathological need to assign blame than it says about Middlebrooks’ actions. In that case it should be between those people and their therapists, not Middlebrooks and the judgment of history.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.