Since there was no baseball yesterday the “Major League Baseball and Fox snubbed Tony Gwynn” train gained steam all day. Eventually Fox and MLB released a statement about the matter:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, an extraordinary individual whose memory we have honored in numerous ways in recent weeks. The Baseball family has sadly lost a number of people this year – including Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Frank Cashen, and former All-Stars Jerry Coleman, Jim Fregosi and Don Zimmer – and did not want to slight anyone by singling out one individual.”
As I said yesterday, though a tribute to the departed would always be welcome, I don’t feel like MLB and Fox not doing anything along those lines is a problem given all that has been done in baseball — by the league, by every team, in every game broadcast in the days following his death — to honor Gwynn. And I think the statement’s inclusion of people like Coleman, Fregosi, Cashman and Zimmer is a mild jab back by Fox and MLB at the critics whose anger at the lack of a Gwynn tribute perhaps overlooks the fact that, if anything, Gwynn has been honored far more than others baseball has recently lost.
That said, this statement is pretty rich given that, above all else, Fox’s broadcast on Tuesday night was nothing if not the honoring of one person — the singling out of Derek Jeter — in a way that pretty much slighted most of the 70-some other All-Stars that were in attendance. Not to mention the game itself.
Still, I presume that the furor over this alleged slight will lead Fox and MLB to put together an Oscars-style death reel to be played at some point during the World Series pregame show.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.