John Coppolella, the bright young assistant GM for the Atlanta Braves is now John Coppolella, bright young GM of the Braves. GM John Hart is now President of Baseball Operations.
In some ways this is just more of the same title inflation we’ve seen all over baseball, with the men with the final call on baseball decisions — in this case Hart — being given loftier titles than that of the traditional “general manager,” and assistants being moved up to GM.
But it’s a bit more significant with the Braves. For one thing Hart is 67-years-old and, since he took over for Frank Wren as GM, there has been a sense that he is not going to be the top baseball ops guy forever. Rather, Coppolella is the heir apparent, he already has many of the duties of the traditional GM and it is assumed he will eventually take over.
Indeed, it’s possible he already has in many important ways. Coppolella has a reputation for being more analytically bent than guys of Hart’s generation and building the farm system, rather than just wheeling and dealing, is thought to be his preoccupation. While the Braves have been a tire fire on the field this year, they have clearly upgraded their organization overall as part of their rebuild, and it’s not unreasonable to think that Coppolella is the primary architect there.
During the Rockies-Dbacks game last night the broadcast cut back from a commercial and, as baseball broadcasts often do, the camera was focused on attractive young women in the stands. That the camera so often does that is a topic for another day, but let us just note that that was happening.
The women were all on their cell phones, taking selfies and such. Which was actually appropriate at the moment as the announcers were reading a T-Mobile promo asking fans to tweet photos of themselves at ballgames. That’s just synergy right there.
But then things got dumb. Watch the video of it here and listen to the broadcasters mock and complain about the women in the stands. And not just their acts. But their upbringing and all of that. Their disdain isn’t even remotely hidden. “Welcome to parenting in 2015!” Jokes about staging interventions. Comments like “I can’t even get MY phone to TAKE pictures,” as if that kind of ignorance is a good thing.
I have a daughter with a cell phone and I ain’t gonna lie: we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on technology’s highest and best use. But my folks think I’m addicted to my phone and the Internet and their folks thought they listened to too much rock and roll and their folks thought that the bobbysoxers were trouble and their folks thought that flappers would be the death of western civilization. Forty and 50-year-old men have been declaring that the younger generation is foolish since time began and this is no different. It says way more about the older generation than it says about the kids.
But that’s not my beef with this really. My beef is that a mobile company is, perhaps, Major League Baseball’s most visible sponsor. And that you can’t go an inning watching a baseball broadcast without the announcers telling you to text this or that to this or that company for a chance to win something, to download the official app of the whatever it is or, as here, to send your photos in for a chance to do something which, in reality, is to make MLB sponsors happy.
Put differently: people who are glued to their cell phones are paying an increasingly large part of these announcers’ salary. And the fact that they bought tickets and churros and everything else means they’re already putting a lot of money in baseball’s coffers.
Maybe don’t mock your customers so much?
Remember yesterday when we talked a little bit about how the on-field deportment of Latino players has a tendency to raise the ire of the opposition? Yeah, this is the sort of thing we were talking about.
The Indians were demolishing the Twins in the ninth inning of last night’s game. It was 7-1 and a man was on second when Jason Kipnis came to the plate. Paul Molitor decided to put Kipnis on with an intentional walk to bring up Jose Ramirez.
Maybe that’s a good tactical move in a close game. Maybe you do it in a 7-1 game too, but it’s certainly less important to do so. Either way, baseball players in Ramirez’s position ALWAYS talk about how they feel they have something to prove in that situation. They say they’ve been disrespected somehow. I think that’s a lot of macho posturing and I think all of us would rather face Ramirez than Kipnis in any situation, but it’s totally predictable that Ramirez is gonna take that attitude about things. Players have egos.
So what happens? Ramirez hits a three-run homer. And he admires it. And he flips his bat. Written on his face and evident from his actions is the thought, “that’ll teach you to walk anyone to get to ME.” Evident from Paul Molitor’s reaction and the reaction of Twins players in the dugout “kind sir, please do not comport yourself in such an improper fashion.” Or maybe it was slightly different. I don’t read lips too well.
After the game there was a lot of grumbling. And even a threat which should probably lead to an immediate suspension, but that’s just me:
Minnesota plays Cleveland tonight. If Ramirez is in the lineup there is a 100% chance he’s going to get thrown at. If he gets thrown at there’s a pretty good chance that the Indians will throw back and/or rush the field or something else. All over a bat flip which, if you ask Ramirez, was a point of personal pride and if you ask Paul Molitor was a sign of disrespect and a violation of the unwritten rules.
And, of course, most people won’t give Ramirez’s personal respect as much weight as Molitor’s citation of unwritten rules, even if they’re both odd, irrational constructs animating all of this. Why? Because the unwritten rules have tenure.