Yesterday, for reasons that are only clear to him, Red Sox commentator Jerry Remy opined on the air that players who do not speak English should not be allowed to have translators on the field for mound visits. To the extent Remy explained his comments, it was to say that these players, such as Masahiro Tanaka, who inspired the comments, should “learn baseball language.”
Remy didn’t have some strategic reason for why players should not have translators. He did not identify any unfair advantage this may provide someone like Tanaka. It mostly amounted to an opinion that players should speak English. Which, given that translators are increasingly common and provided for via the Collective Bargaining Agreement, is not consistent with Major League Baseball’s views.
Remy’s opinion was likewise not consistent with his employer’s views. NESN just released this statement:
Between this and the Mike Schmidt nonsense, it may be a good idea for ballplayers who have been retired for 30 years to stop offering unsolicited comments about what language current players speak and why it matters.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.