Andrew Sullivan often mentions the fact that when he was a reporter at the New Republic his editor, Michael Kinsley, would say that he wished he had a single key on his computer that he could press before even reading an article that would delete all semicolons and replace them with a period and automatically capitalize the next word. Why? Because, Kinsley thought, semicolons were useless crutches which enabled bloated, aimless prose and served to prevent the writer from actually saying something useful, clear and succinct.
If I ever seriously mess up in life and find myself editing some Yankees columnist, I’d want a key that automatically deletes any variation of “If George Steinbrenner were alive” and replace it with the words “[columnist] is ill today. He will return next week.”
The latest abuser of this shopworn cliche of Yankees analysis: Bill Madden:
If George Steinbrenner were alive, you know there would be some kind of shakeup. Heads would roll somewhere. Changes — if nothing else for the sake of changes — would be in the offing.
That’s the difference between a regular columnist and a Spink Award-winning columnist like Madden. The Spink Award guy has the guts and job security to add the “heads would roll” cliche to the “if the Boss were still alive” cliche. He throws it all out there.
In other news, Steinbrenner is still dead. And even when he was alive, he had spent the last 15 years or so running a Yankees team with managerial and executive stability nearly unrivaled in all of baseball. Why? Because he changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore.
If only New York columnists could do that.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.