Craig Calcaterra

Puig Bat Flip

Yasiel Puig says he wants to cut down on bat flips. This is tragic.

34 Comments

My parents remember where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was shot. I remember the same thing about the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up. My kids, in turn, will remember this day:

source:

That’s from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, who has the story here. The upshot: while Puig means no disrespect when he flips his bat — it’s all emotion — he is concerned what other people may think of him. Here’s his quote, which I think you’ll agree, is the saddest quote from a baseball player since Lou Gehrig:

Though acknowledging that some fans are entertained by his theatrics, Puig said in Spanish, “I want to show American baseball that I’m not disrespecting the game.”

The running joke around these parts is about how sourpusses who wouldn’t know what fun was if it fell out of the sky, landed on their face and started to wiggle say things like “RESPECT THE GAME!” to ballplayers who dare to enjoy themselves. I mean, it’s so cliche now that they’re finding different ways to say it, knowing we’re on to their game. But I guess they won.

And that’s what sort of bugs me here. Not that Puig will try not to flip his bat. I mean, hell, he can do what he wants. It’s not like there aren’t other bat-flippers. Jose Bautista flipped his on a WALK yesterday for cryin’ out loud. No, it’s that we now have the groundwork for a tired, crappy old narrative, which you just know the sourpusses will gobble up. Travel with me into the future, my friends:

October 28, 2015
Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Some will say it took a change in the front office to get the Dodgers over the hump. To transform them from a group of Mr. April-September All-Stars to what they are on this night: World Series Champions.

But what it clearly took was not Andrew Freiedman and Farhan Zaidi’s spreadsheets and all of the changes they made.

It took a change in the attitude of the Dodgers’ would-be MVP. Yasiel Puig.

Back in April, with the Dodgers mired just above .500, Puig told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted “to show American baseball that [he was] not disrespecting the game.”

It was a sentiment long overdue.

Then, something amazing happened. The Dodgers began to win. And win a lot. And while, yes, the basement spreadsheet crew may claim that the Dodgers were clearly the most talented team in the National League West to begin with and while many favored them to win the division anyway, they never did explain that sluggish start in April.

All I know are what my eyes see, and my eyes saw Yasiel Puig stop flipping bats and the Dodgers running away with the NL West. Coincidence? I think not.

And it’d just go on and on. You know it would.

Oh well. Baseball is a lot of things. But one of the things it is most of all is an environment which rewards conformity. If you stick out or are perceived to be showing people up — with said perception being set on the most unreasonable of hair-triggers, it seems — you catch guff. Once you adjust for talent, aw shucks company men go farther than the exuberant or flamboyant types. The clubs and the culture of the game, in their own subtle ways, punish the ones who feel like it’s actually OK to enjoy fun things. The fans, taking the cue of their Little League coaches, ex-jock commentators and reporters who parrot that company line, have likewise bought into the notion that different is bad. We get a few years of flamboyance from a star now and again, but then that ends. They either grow up a bit — it’d be weird to see a 30 year-old guy going crazy all the time — or they stop being good enough to pull that off.

Or, in the case of Yasiel Puig, they just learn that it’s easier to go along than to simply be themselves. And that’s pretty sad.

The Indians sign Jhoulys Chacin, DFA Shaun Marcum

jhoulys chacin getty
1 Comment

The Indians announced a bit ago that they have signed Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal. They also designated Shaun Marcum for assignment and called up catcher Brett Hayes from Columbus.

Chacin was released by the Rockies late in spring training, after he struggled in four appearances in which he allowed seven runs on 16 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. He missed most of last year with a bum shoulder. In 2013 he posted a 3.47 ERA and a 126/61 K/BB ratio in 197 1/3 innings, so it’s no gamble to see if he can be a useful starter.

After missing almost all of 2014 and spending what little he did pitch in 2014 in the minors, Marcum signed another minor league deal with Cleveland. He has made one appearance for the Indians thus far this year, allowing one run in five innings in mopup work on in a loss to the Tigers on Sunday.

When it comes to Josh Hamilton, Arte Moreno is a craven opportunist, not a “smart businessman”

Arte Moreno
116 Comments

Over at The Guardian today, Jon Bernhardt takes on one aspect of the Josh Hamilton-Angels drama that has some greater applicability to how fans approach the business of baseball as a whole: worship of the smart business decision.

Bernhardt relays the back and forth between the Angels and Hamilton which we’ve been talking about here. But goes on to note that, even if a lot of people are starting to think that owner Arte Moreno is being unreasonable in his actions, hardly anyone is noting just how free a pass he’s getting for his motives. Which are, quite clearly, to claw back as much of the $83 million the Angels agreed to pay Hamilton in the first place.

The reason so many are willing to give him a free pass on that? Because so many of us tend to equate a smart business decision with virtuous behavior:

This is the business savvy we claim to love in our rich – the weird sociopathy of the Business Decision, where men like Moreno simply must engage in whatever behavior it is that theoretically leads to them swimming in the largest pile of gold coins possible, because money is its own morality . . . The fact of the matter is that many people – a majority, perhaps – will see this as a smart business decision instead of craven opportunism, because in our society there is no clear distinction between the two. Perhaps there never was.

This is a subset of the overall fan view that players should be criticized and, on occasion, excoriated for going for an extra dollar while owners who make magnitudes greater sums off of baseball while not playing an inning of it are hardly ever questioned about it. And it’s not just some reflexive anti-union, pro-management stance, though there is some of that at play. It’s a straight up class warfare argument about stinkin’ rich ballplayers that, amazingly, doesn’t follow through and condemn the amazingly more stinkin’ rich owners. It’s incoherent, frankly, but it’s so, so common.

But really, that’s what’s going on with the Hamilton stuff. People are disapproving of Hamilton’s acts, which are borne of addiction and not malice, yet they will nod at Moreno’s efforts to not pay Hamilton, which are borne out of greed and, maybe, a side of brains.

Why are baseball games nine innings long?

Old baseball team
55 Comments

A fun historical dive over at Mental Floss, with a heavy assist from baseball historian John Thorn. The question: why baseball games are nine innings long.

No, the answer is not about some previous effort to pick up pace of play in light of players like, um, Eli-David Ortizerson constantly adjusting his batting girdle or whatever the heck went on in the 19th century. It was really about a battle to keep a baseball club exclusive — and back then, they really were “clubs” in the common definition of the term — and a somewhat obsessive desire to have the number of innings match the number of players, even though there is no logical reason why those things should be the same.

A good, fun read. And a reminder that, like a lot of things in this country, baseball began by a bunch of white guys who wanted to keep their little club exclusive and keep out the riffraff.

Yasiel Puig tweaked his hamstring

Yasiel Puig
10 Comments

The Dodgers won in walkoff fashion last night and Yasiel Puig was the guy who dumped the bucket of ice water on hero of the game Alex Guerrero. Which suggests he was feeling fine afterwards.

Before that, however, he wasn’t as good. Yes, he homered for a second consecutive game and had three hits overall, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that Puig developed a tight hamstring during the game and will be examined today.

Puig is 6-for-27 on the young season with a couple of walks, two homers and a double.