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.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.