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Everyone is mad at Zack Hample for attending MLB’s Fort Bragg Game

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History was made during Sunday’s Marlins-Braves game, as it was the first time a professional sports game was played on an active military base. Dubbed the Fort Bragg Game on the eve of Independence Day, it was MLB’s way of showing appreciation for those in the armed forces.

Only those enlisted in the military and their families, as well as members of the Department of Defense were to attend. The tickets were deemed non-transferable, which means ticketholders weren’t allowed to sell or give them away to non-military personnel. Noted baseball collector Zack Hample found his way in, which angered a lot of people. As of this writing — about 1:30 AM EDT — his Wikipedia page is in shambles. Take a look. Click the image to view it in full size.

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How did he get in? He made a Tinder profile specifically searching for ticketholders, as seen here:

Hample was also seen negotiating ticket purchases on Twitter. That runs contrary to his claim that he got the tickets through a friend. And it doesn’t matter anyway as I’ll explain below.

The 82nd Airborne Division called Hample out on Twitter:

As did Marlins Man:

Everyone is upset with Hample because he broke the rules regarding ticket ownership. Or, rather, he made someone else break the rules so that he could get in. As a result, he took a seat — and souvenirs — away from members of the military, for whom this game was specifically designated. It was supposed to be about military appreciation. Instead, Hample made it about himself.

The military is allowed to have its day at the ballpark just like anyone else. The members of the military didn’t deserve to have their day intruded upon by a 38-year-old memorabilia collector. Hample said he would donate $1,100 to a charity benefiting veterans, but he could’ve done that beforehand and not bought his way into the Fort Bragg Game, taking 11 souvenirs away that military personnel and their children could’ve enjoyed.

All this being said, the piling on Hample has gone overboard. Twitter is inundated with people yelling angry things at Hample from simple F-bombs to death threats to suicide requests. Aside from acquiring the ticket, Hample didn’t do anything on Sunday that he hasn’t already done before. His “skill” in catching souvenirs — including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit, a home run — has taken souvenirs from other fans, but in an effort to prove to each other that we love the military most, everyone’s jumping on Hample for taking a foul ball or a homer from a serviceperson. The eight-year-old Hample shoulder checks as he positions himself to catch a home run at Yankee Stadium is just as, and arguably more, deserving of the souvenir than a serviceperson, so where’s the outrage there? This is not to say we shouldn’t have outrage in the former situation, but that we should in the latter as well.

Hample’s entire scheme and his persona are anathema to a healthy environment for watching baseball. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about being trampled if a fly ball heads their way. Baseball players shouldn’t have to negotiate as if they’re in a hostage situation to recover a baseball representing a career milestone. Sending him hate mail is way overboard, but maybe teams could ban him from their ballparks. Remember: these are adults wearing pajamas playing a children’s game. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. Make it fun and safe for kids.

The Marlins beat the Braves 5-2, by the way.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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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.