Craig Calcaterra

Don Cherry

Don Cherry has opinions about Harper-Papelbon


One thing that makes me laugh harder than almost anything is when someone tells me to “stick to baseball.” No. Why should I? I’m a human being like anyone else and I got opinions, dang it. Sure, the farther I stray from my areas of expertise (e.g. baseball, the law, cats, bourbon, 1980s sitcoms and the facts supporting the incontrovertible proof that the moon landing was faked) the more likely I am to be wrong, but that’s a risk we all have in life.

So, no, I take no issue with noted hockey crazy person Don Cherry weighing in on the Bryce HarperJonathan Papelbon fight. He, like me, treads on thin ice in talking about sports he doesn’t know as well (note to Don: we call them clubhouses, not “dressing rooms”) but the man is entitled to his opinion, even if it’s dumb and wrong. That’s what the Constitution guarantees, and according to people who yell at me on the Internet, that applies even in Canada.

So, without further ado, Don Cherry’s wisdom on the Harper-Papelbon thing. He put it in nine separate tweets and that’s hard to follow, so I’ll clean it up for you (tweets here):

How anybody could blame Papelbon for confronting Harper boggles the mind. Alright, Papelbon shouldn’t have done what he did to Harper on the bench. He should have waited for him in the tunnel and choked him there . . .

. . . People who criticize Papelbon, rightly so for doing it openly, never played the game. Never, never, ever openly criticize your teammate no matter what he does. In the dressing room that’s ok, yes but what is said in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. Some people say they can understand how Harper just jogs down to first on a pop up. They say well, hey they have already played 152 games. The guy is getting 10 zillion dollars a year, at least he can hustle to first base.

The most remarkable thing about this entire controversy — apart from some people, like Cherry, thinking that there’s a right place and a wrong place to choke someone — is the belief by so many that Harper actually dogged it to first base on the play in question. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post was at the game and he wrote quite clearly that Harper did not, in fact, dog it to first base in anything approaching an unusual or extraordinary way. If the ball had been dropped, Harper would have been safe. Which is all that is really required on such plays unless you worship at the altar of False Hustle.

But of course, we know this wasn’t about hustle anyway. This was Papelbon looking for a pretext to go after Harper based on his comments last week.

Anyway: good to see Don Cherry branching out. I worry sometimes that there isn’t enough work for ill-informed hot take artists in sports media, so him putting in the hard work to stretch himself like this is inspiring.

The Reds may bring back Bryan Price

Bryan Price

The Reds have had a disappointing season and Bryan Price has taken no small amount of criticism for it. It’s not all his fault of course — the Reds are not a well-built team — but he likewise hasn’t been an anchor of stability, most notably when he went on that profane tirade at a reporter back in April.

Not too long ago there were rumors swirling that Barry Larkin had been contacting old teammates to see if they’d coach with him if he were named manager. That’s not the sort of thing one does unless someone connected with the team at least puts the feelers out there, suggesting that Price is a dead man walking.

Ken Rosenthal reports, however, that there’s still a chance he stays:

The team is considering retaining Price and making changes to his coaching staff, but no decisions will be made until the season is over, according to major-league sources.

The rationale for the Reds keeping Price would be similar to the Tigers’ logic for keeping Ausmus – that the manager should not be held responsible for injuries and trades that compromised the club.

I dunno. Every club has injuries. The Tigers, to use the comp Rosenthal uses, had an injury to Miguel Cabrera of all people, which is more serious than any injury the Reds have had. And while the trades are out of a manager’s control, the Tigers let their GM go who was responsible for them. The guy running the Reds’ show, Walt Jocketty, is still on the job, suggesting that ownership doesn’t blame him for what’s gone down with the Reds.

As Rosenthal says, the decision will be made after the season. But it would be pretty surprising to see Price manage the club next year.

Tropical Storm Joaquin could mess with baseball this weekend

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees

Baseball’s last week always brings uncertainties and the possibility of multi-way ties and tiebreakers that could mess with the schedule like nobody’s business. Now let’s throw some weather into the mix!

There is a cold front coming through in the next couple of days  which could possibly bring several inches of rain if it stalls out just so, like some forecasters think it might. Then moisture from Tropical Storm Joaquin in the western Atlantic is forecast to creep up the coast over the weekend. That’s setting up the possibility of some pretty high-probability, pretty heavy rain.

Among the series with either playoff or playoff seeding implications that could be affected both mid-week and through the weekend: Toronto at Baltimore, the Mets in Philadelphia, the Red Sox in the Bronx, the Yankees in Baltimore, the Nationals versus the Mets, and the Cardinals in Atlanta. The current characterization from The Weather Channel:

The latest forecast guidance suggests the highest chance of heavy rain and attendant flooding late this week through the weekend is in a swath from eastern New York and northern New Jersey into New England . . . Depending on how this weather pattern unfolds, the strong winds could impact coastal areas of the Northeast and especially the immediate offshore waters . . . The winds could contribute to high surf, beach erosion and possible coastal flooding in some locations along the Northeast and possibly the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Obviously forecasting the weather is uncertain business, but fans should keep their umbrellas handy and MLB schedulers should keep a big old bottle of antacids and anti-anxiety medication on their desks.