Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
A fairly minor blurb appeared in the Denver Post this morning: David Dahl, the Rockies rookie outfielder, has been benched for a few days running. Why? Fatigue. Having been in the lower levels of the minors until this year, it’s his longest season ever. It’s understandable that he’d be gassed.
But there was something else gassing him too: he played 76 games for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats. A team without a home ballpark.
We talked about the Yard Goats’ situation before the season began. At the time there were disputes about the completion of their new publicly-funded ballpark which inspired the franchise to move from New Britain. The opening was delayed. The disputes have continued all year, however, construction stopped and the park still sits uncompleted. That led to the Yard Goats playing their entire 141 game schedule on the road.
The Yard Goats did alright all things considered, finishing 74-67. And certainly Dahl played well, slugging .500 and leading the team in homers despite playing in only a little over half of their games. Still, you have to wonder if being on the road for all of that time took some of the wind out of his sails. And the sails of other Rockies prospects, many of whom played the whole season riding busses.
All because of the politics of getting a city to pay for a new ballpark.
Three years ago the Braves took issue with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez for what they thought was Fernandez’s disrespect (or something) after he admired a home run he hit. Last night Fernandez and the Braves got into it again.
Nick Markakis hit a homer in the second inning. Fernandez hit Markakis with a pitch in the sixth inning. Retaliation? Hard to say, but he hit him. Fernandez came to bat the next inning and Braves reliever Jose Ramirez threw behind him. Ramirez was ejected and both benches cleared:
Oy. Plunking nonsense regrettably happens, but you don’t want to see someone headhunting like that. There’s no place for it. I’m glad Ramirez was ejected. He should be suspended as well.
Adam Jones wading into the Colin Kaepernick stuff the other day was notable because baseball players don’t often wade into controversial topics, be they political, social or what have you. They don’t for a lot of reasons. Many are likely apolitical, as are a lot of people. Some simply don’t want the scrutiny talking about such matters inevitably inspires.
Over at ESPN former MLBer Doug Glanville spoke with several current and former players, asking them about the calculus involved in speaking out publicly on social and political issues and the perils doing so can often bring. A notable takeaway is that, beyond merely not being political or not enjoying criticism, players are concerned with their message being misconstrued by misleading or context-free headlines and/or the difficulty of communicating complex thoughts on social media. I’d ad that communicating a complex thought is hard on TV and the radio as well, given that they work primarily on the eight second soundbite model.
We saw this even with Adam Jones’ thing the other day. The reporter, Bob Nightengale of USA Today, did a great job in giving Jones room to breathe in his article. He set forth multiple long quotes, allowing Jones to explain his views, without a lot of interjection or summing up. It was exactly how such a thing should be handled.
What happened, however? One small sentence that was not representative of the entirety of his comments was slapped on top and has led the conversation:
Yes, Jones said that and yes he stands behind it. But there was a LOT of context to those words that, based on my conversations and arguments with people over the past few days, has been totally lost on them. People read headlines and summaries of stories more often than they read entire stories. Their takeaway here was that Jones said an inflammatory and, to some anyway, racist thing. The rest of his comments were dismissed or ignored completely and a very polarizing debate ensued despite the fact that the entirety of Jones’ comments were nuanced, thoughtful and the complete opposite of inflammatory.
Some players want to simply stick to baseball. Some don’t. But I bet a whole lot more wouldn’t if they had any confidence that their message would be accurately conveyed and fairly received. It very rarely is.