What Babe Ruth, Cy Young Ted Williams and . . . Yasiel Puig have in common

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Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider has a nice perspective-inducing article today. He spoke with baseball historians John Thorn and Rob Neyer about Yasiel Puig and they noted how the sort of criticism he gets — “He’s unschooled! He’s undisciplined! He’s disrespectful” — is in keeping with a long, long baseball tradition. Indeed, some of baseball’s all-time greats got the same treatment.

Thorn on Ted Williams, who used to take practice swings in the outfield and didn’t adhere to the codes of the day about who talked to whom and how:

“He was thought to be nearly demented. He was absolutely in his own head. … Because we hold Williams in such reverence today, those who don’t have a grasp of the full history of the man will not recognize that he was made fun of when he was brought in.”

Neyer on Ruth:

“. . . the winter after the Red Sox traded him to the Yankees, the Reach Guide, which was the bible of the American League at this point, referred to Ruth as an undesirable and uncontrollable player and basically editorialized that the Red Sox were smart to get rid of him and the Yankees were stupid to pick him up. … The biggest issue was that he didn’t seem to care what the established rules of the game were, and he tried things that hadn’t been tried before.”

None of which is to say that Puig will be a Hall of Famer — it’s ridiculously early to say such things — but if he does become one, the start of his career and the treatment he gets from some quarters will have been in keeping with that experienced by many Hall of Famers who came before.

The Baltimore Orioles did not try to get Shohei Ohtani . . . out of principle

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Shohei Ohtani made it pretty clear early in the posting process that he was not going to consider east coast teams. As such, it’s understandable if east coast teams didn’t stop all work in order to put together an Ohtani pitch before he signed with the Angels. The Baltimore Orioles, however, didn’t do so for a somewhat different reason than all of the other also-rans.

Their reason, as explained by general manager Dan Duquette on MLB Network Radio yesterday was “because philosophically we don’t participate on the posting part of it.” Suggesting that, as a matter of policy, they will not even attempt to sign Japanese players via the posting system.

Like I said, that probably didn’t make a hill of beans’ difference when it came to Ohtani, who was unlikely to give the O’s the time of day. I find it really weird, though, that the Orioles would totally reject the idea of signing Japanese players via the posting system on policy grounds. None of their opponents are willing to unilaterally disarm in that fashion, I presume.

More than that, though, why would you make that philosophy public? Don’t you want your rivals to think you’re in competition with them in all facets of the game? Don’t you want your fans to think that you’ll stop at nothing to improve the team?

An odd thing to say for Duquette. I don’t know quite why he’d say such a thing.