This is a fascinating story. It’s from Andy Martino of the Daily News and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen from a baseball writer who works the beat or writes a column for a major media outlet. It’s about the Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda battle for the Mets first base job. But it’s mostly about Martino examining his role as a reporter and questioning whether he got things right.
Actually, he admits he got things wrong in preferring that the Mets keep Ike Davis and ship out Duda. The Mets did the opposite and the results have been great for them. Duda has thrived at first base for them. Martino wonders why he was so convinced that was the wrong choice.
Specifically, he wonders if his comfort with interviewing Davis, which he far preferred to interviewing Duda, and their significant personality differences made him think Davis was the better choice:
On a subconscious level, did I convince myself that Davis was a better choice because he was a better quote, a friendlier guy, one for whom I came to feel genuine affection as a person? . . . Davis was interesting to talk to, sympathetic and likeable; did that up-close knowledge render me incapable of drawing an objective conclusion, and presenting it to readers? And to overstate Duda’s problems, which he seems to have since overcome?
Those are a couple of rare and brutally honest questions for a baseball writer to ask himself. In my personal experience of interacting with baseball writers there is a near-religious belief that players with personalities like Daivis’ can cut it in New York and players with personalities like Duda’s can’t. There is an even more prevalent belief that a good quote is a good person and that a good person is a good baseball player. If you doubt this, criticize a favorite but flawed baseball player on a given team and see how many steps of argument it takes for the beat guy for that team to defend with some variation of “but he’s a good guy” or “his makeup is off the charts” or whatever. Sometimes that’s the team’s view of the matter. More often than we realize, I believe, that’s the writer’s view.
Really interesting stuff from Martino. I’d be curious to know how many other baseball writers ask themselves these questions, even if they do it in private instead of in print like Martino does here.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.
The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.
The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.
The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”
Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.