scott diamond minors

Life of a minor leaguer: “drugs, booze and cheap motels”


That’s how Australia’s describes life for baseball’s minor leaguers to its readers who are, presumably, not terribly familiar with baseball. Thing is, they cite the “drugs, booze and cheap motels” in an effort to paint the life of minor leaguers as a bad thing. Hell, compared to the fact that they’re not paid a living wage and are treated like heads of cattle, the drugs, booze and cheap motels are the best part!

But really, the story isn’t wrong. It’s just kinda funny to read about things we think of as common described by outsiders. Especially when they use phrases like “as foreign as a Frenchman,” which I am TOTALLY gonna steal from this guy and use again sometime soon.

Anyway, prepare yourself for the worst


Baseball players drink, partly because they don’t always need to be the most athletic specimens in the world of pro sports, but also to pass the time. These guys play up to 160 Games in a season in the Majors or 140 games at minor league level. That’s six games a week for six months. Each night, win or lose, their adrenalin is pumping. A beer or two or seven or eight helps.

No team spirit

Baseball, like cricket, is a team sport that is largely about the sum of individual performances rather than a bunch of guys working together as in the football codes. But it’s off the field that you really feel that lack of spirit, especially at minor league level. Guys in the minors would trample their best mate to get a promotion to the Majors.

Most players in a minor league club barely know each other’s names, let alone hang out together. There are exceptions, but for the most part it is a lonely, selfish mini-universe where the ethos of “one for all, all for one” is as foreign as a Frenchman.

This, right here, is the sport’s secret shame.

Cheap soulless hotels

All those games means a whole bunch of road trips. And road trips mean seedy hotels. At minor league level, a Holiday Inn is like the Hilton. More likely you’ll end up staying in some three star dump on a highway between Crapsville Illinois and Dumpsburg, Arkansas.

I am tired of seeing Crapsville, Illinois dumped on like this. Sure, it was a pretty bad scene in Crapsville 10-15 years ago, but since then they opened up Crapsville Brewery, which makes a great IPA and they turned the old Crapsville Metalworks factory into loft apartments. Really, Crapsville is now like the Brooklyn of the greater Armpit City, Illinois metro area.

Dumpsburg, Arkansas is awful, though. Just a wretched place.

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?

Masahiro Tanaka

The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.

Collin McHugh will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Astros

Collin McHugh Astros
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After using ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel to get past the Yankees in the Wild Card game the Astros will turn to right-hander Collin McHugh in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Royals.

McHugh had an up-and-down year, posting a 3.89 ERA compared to his 2.73 mark last season, but thanks to good teammate support he had a 19-7 record and his 171/53 K/BB ratio in 204 innings was solid. He was particularly good down the stretch, posting a 2.89 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after August 1.

McHugh will match up against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in Game 1. Houston hasn’t named a starter for Game 2 yet, while Kansas City is going with Johnny Cueto. And then the Game 3 matchup figures to be Dallas Keuchel versus Edinson Volquez.