Max Scherzer doesn’t like that Sports Illustrated mentioned his contract status

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Max Scherzer is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And he’s not happy about how the story — with the cover headline “Mad Max’s $144 million bet” — turned out:

“To be on the cover is a very special moment, but I’m also frustrated that they chose to put the contract stuff on the cover,” he said Sunday.

“When they approached us, (Tigers media relations) and I, we specifically asked not to make the story around the contract. … They assured us it wasn’t going to be like that. They chose a different route, and we felt like we were lied to and misled.”

Sports Illustrated said they made no such assurances and, given that Sports Illustrated is a respectable media operation, I’d be shocked if they did. It just doesn’t work that way when you’re dealing with a legitimate journalistic operation. My guess is a game of telephone or some misunderstanding led Scherzer or the Tigers folks to believe the story would not mention his contract status.

But this does seem to be an increasingly common refrain from the celebrity class lately. That they were someone treated poorly by the media or that they had some sort of understanding that a story would be about X and not Y or that Z topic would not be broached. Lorde of all people got into this sort of dispute with a magazine criticizing her music recently, claiming that criticism is somehow unfair, hateful and illegitimate.

It’s all nuts to me. A low blow is one thing, but suggesting that criticizing one’s work — or, in Scherzer’s case, pointing out a totally legitimate and relevant thing about his contract status — is off base is to confuse journalists with publicists. If you want to get your message and your message only out, go through the latter. If you can’t handle mention of things you don’t want mentioned, avoid the former.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.