Boston has found the fall guy–or at least the first fall guy–for a pitching staff that ranks dead last among AL teams in runs allowed, firing pitching coach Juan Nieves.
Nieves has held the job since 2013 and Boston won the World Series in his first season, but since the beginning of last year the Red Sox rank 12th among AL teams in runs allowed.
There were plenty of question marks attached to Boston’s rotation coming into the season because of the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 starter, but no one could have expected Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Wade Miley all to have ERAs above (and several way above) 5.00.
No replacement has been named yet.
Before you say anything: yes, I know football ain’t my bailiwick. But if you think I’m posting about this just because football is big and popular and anything Deflategate-related is guaranteed to attract eyeballs and pageviews, well, um, that’s where you’re right.
I’m watching this stuff from way over here in baseball land I can’t help but think that this is nothing more than Michael Pineda and pine tar. Or Clay Buchholz and Bullfrog sunscreen. Or some knucklehead with a corked bat. Cheating? Sure. Probably something deserving of a suspension and a fine? Oh, totally. But not exactly the sort of thing that causes the world to stop.
Yet it is here, it seems. It’s sucking up all of the media oxygen and causing the usual members of the sanctimony brigade to talk about Tom Brady’s legacy and how it negates everything he ever did on a football field. This seems ridiculous to me. Hell, the whole idea of “legacy” the way it’s described in these cases seems ridiculous. All I know for sure is that if people like Bill Plaschke and Juliet Macur are clutching their pearls over something, there’s a good chance it’s an overblown b.s. of a controversy.
Anyway, someone — sincerely, because again, football ain’t my bailiwick — tell me why this isn’t a pine tar case? Is it because the Patriots are seen as serial cheaters? Is it because they have won a lot and Tom Brady is famous? Do we have this same level of outrage if it’s Joe Flacco or someone deflating balls? Inquiring, amused minds want to know.
Justin Verlander is hurt and isn’t pitching. But he hasn’t crawled into a hole and died. His arm is hurt, sure, but he’s still capable of, you know, going out to eat and spending time with his girlfriend, all of which are things literally 100% of ballplayers and almost every other single person in America does, more or less, when they have a minor injury.
But when you’re a baseball player people expect you to wear a hairshirt when you’re injured. To look dour and never be out in the world. Clay Buchholz got a lot of crap thrown at him a few years back for showing up at a charitable event and not locking himself in his basement following an illness. Verlander, too, has been catching flak for actually living his life.
On Instagram the other day, Verlander had a message for those folks:
He expanded on all of that to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, showing that he’s taking it in a bit more stride than that post suggests he is. But really, you can’t blame him for being fed up with that kind of thing. Ballplayers are already in a bubble. That they’re expected to act in certain, clearly artificial was for the sole purpose of pleasing some irrationally demanding fans is about eight bridges too far.