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Sandy Alderson, Huston Street react to the new anti-hazing rule

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There isn’t a ton of news happening, so perhaps it’s inevitable that the anti-hazing rules announced this week have come to dominate the conversation in major league baseball. There was the announcement and then the backlash from former players. Today, on Day 3, we have, for the first time, reactions from a couple of figures currently in the game.

The first one comes from Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Alderson is happy to see the new rule in place because he thinks hazing is counterproductive. From Marc Carig’s report in Newsday:

“It’s something I’m very concerned about as a potential issue . . . I’ve seen it in the military. For all the camaraderie it’s supposed to promote, it’s divisive and I think undercuts morale. So you’ve got to be very careful about that . . . Is it constructive? Is it useful? Is it juvenile? It’s probably juvenile,” he said. “It’s probably not useful or constructive in too many ways.”

I dunno, man. I was told by many of you that only people in favor of the Wussification of America and people who have never been around a baseball team opposed these hazing rituals. That an ex-Marine who has worked in baseball for 35 years feels this way is . . . confusing!

On the other end of the spectrum is Angels reliever Huston Street. Street is the first current player to go on the record about all of this. He penned a long email to the Associated Press on the matter, stressing that he is against all forms of bullying and abusive behavior, but defending the act of dressing up rookies as women as a form of team building. He, rather hamfistedly, but at least earnestly, compares the hazing to comedians and the theater and stuff. I don’t know about that, but I think he is right when he says a new set of rituals will likely arise and that, unlike the stuff that was just banned, players will keep it out of the public eye.

But that’s the key part of it, right? The public eye? Major League Baseball did not ban this stuff because it’s progressive or because it listened to commies like Bill and me arguing for them to stop it. They banned it because each September the images of the hazing were all over social media thanks to players sharing it, leading to bad press (which, yes, included commies like Bill and me yelling about it). If it had always been kept private I’m sure MLB wouldn’t have said a thing about it.

Which makes some sense. These guys are adults and, amongst themselves, should be able to do whatever they want. But as we’re always told when they do things fans don’t like, they’re role models, whether they want to be or not. Maybe they should not be — I don’t think they should be — but they are seen as such by most. When they’re seen doing degrading things, it sends a message that the league doesn’t want out there and it is thus understandable that the league wants it gone.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.