Nothing will kill the “Jonny Gomes: team leader” story

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The year is 2070. It is Opening Day. Jonny Gomes, age 89, is the last surviving member of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals. He ambles out to the green space between the mound and home plate and, with the help of his grandchildren, throws out the ceremonial first pitch. The fans at Salvador Perez Memorial Stadium* roar.

*Perez, sadly, died on the field on September 30, 2018 when manager Ned Yost sent him out to catch his 162nd game of the season despite the fact Perez had a concussion, two strained hamstrings, dropsy, scurvy and a sucking chest wound inflicted by an errant crossbow bolt at a Medieval Times restaurant the night before.  

The next morning, a column is penned by a baseball writer in which Gomes is hailed as the leader of the 2070 Royals. The heart and soul. A team which, if it fails to maintain ties with Gomes past opening day, “will lack the necessary professionalism and passion” he provides and will be doomed to failure.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But only a little bit. After all, he’s getting that treatment now, an he isn’t even on the playoff roster. From Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald:

Beard still long, red and curly, Gomes is starting to show signs of being 34 years old, but it’s not visible in his sturdy chest, nor in his fearless arms. He unleashed rounds full of powerful swings in batting practice, driving the ball as if it threatened him. To the casual onlooker, Gomes looks like the most prepared, powerful hitter on this potent Royals roster.

Except, again, he has taken no at bats in the postseason nor will he, in all likelihood. Mastrodonato goes on:

Time might be running out on his blue-collar career, one he built on sweat and heart, but to him there’s no end in sight.

“There will have to be a lot of people involved in ripping the jersey off me,” he said.

Tonight, Jonny Gomes is determined to help the Royals get to the World Series. Even if he doesn’t take a single at-bat.

There are quotes from current Royals saying they are happy to have him around. And I’m sure they are. No one, to my knowledge, has ever had anything bad to say about Gomes. But there’s a difference, it seems, between not saying anything bad about him and writing effusive columns about his grit, heart “fearless arms” (?) and the like everywhere he goes. The Atlanta writers did that this spring. The Boston writers have been doing it since 2013. The treatment will likely follow him wherever he goes and I just don’t get why he warrants all of that ink.

I wish I had his agent.

Dodgers place Yu Darvish on 10-day disabled list with back tightness

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In a flurry of roster moves, the Dodgers placed Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list with back tightness, the team announced Saturday. Darvish was removed from his start on Wednesday after experiencing back pain and is expected to skip his scheduled start in Pittsburgh next Tuesday before returning to the roster. Left-hander Edward Paredes was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City in a corresponding move.

This is the first disabled list stint of the year for the 31-year-old right-hander, who exited Wednesday’s outing with a 3.83 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 over 155 innings for the Dodgers and Rangers in 2017. Darvish told reporters that he felt comfortable continuing to pitch even after the diagnosis, but wanted to respect the team’s decision going forward.

The Dodgers have not officially announced Darvish’s replacement, but will likely turn to right-hander Brock Stewart for a spot start when they polish off their seven-game road trip next week. It’s been a rough weekend for the NL West leaders, who are still waiting on Clayton Kershaw‘s return and lost lefty reliever Grant Dayton to elbow discomfort on Friday.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

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The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”