The White Rat is none too thrilled with the steroids business:
“The people in St. Louis give Mark McGwire a standing ovation the other
day, and (former major leaguer) Jack Clark said every steroid user
should be banned for baseball, and they booed him. Now, what the hell
is the matter with society when that happens?”
I think what it says is that America cares a hell of a lot less with what you do and a hell of a lot more about how you say and do it. McGwire was always a nice guy, and however flawed his admission has been, it’s been accompanied by a good bit of humility. Jack Clark’s scolding was shrill and bitter. The fact that one guy broke the rules and the other (presumably, anyway) didn’t is a secondary concern when it comes to public opinion.
We’re willing — maybe too willing — in this country to forgive transgressions by
people who are otherwise likable. We have very little tolerance for the
holier than thou. I’m not saying it should be that way — I can see the arguments on both sides — I’m just saying that it’s always been that way in American society.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.