Selig on the Galea investigation: nothin' to worry about

Leave a comment

Bud Selig was just on the Mike & Mike show, and covered a couple of topics:

  • Greenberg asked him if he had any advice for Roger Goodell and the NFL as they wade into labor hell. Selig dodged the question with some talk about how all leagues and businesses have to deal with this stuff from time to time. I may be imagining the suppressed schadenfreude-inspired chortle. He did add, however — referring to the 1994-95 strike — that “I don’t think any of us at the time understood just how much the work stoppage hurt the sport.”  Which is the closest he’s ever going to come to an apology, I presume;
  • Asked about the Dr. Galea investigation that has led to Jose Reyes and now Alex Rodriguez being questioned by the feds, Selig said “I don’t think there’s a great deal to worry about.” Given that the man is incapable of ordering a sandwich without three qualifiers and four dependent clauses, I take that as pretty strong evidence that there’s really nothing there as far as baseball is concerned;
  • Jayson Stark asked Mike & Mike to ask Selig whether, in light of the success of Olympic hockey, baseball would reconsider its stance on stopping the season to send major leaguers to the Summer Olympics in the event baseball is reinstated as an event, Selig gave an unequivocal no, citing that length of the season is already a problem, and saying that “telling our fans we’re going away for two weeks in not pragmatically possible.”

Good on Bud for that last answer.  Between the winter leagues, the WBC and the increasingly diverse pool of players in Major League Baseball, the sport is pretty damn international already. The game isn’t appreciated in countries that don’t already play it, and Olympic exposure does virtually nothing to enhance the sport.  If I were commissioner I’d put baseball back in Olympic Stadium before I’d put it back in the Olympics.

Oh, one final note: Selig said that he had heard Stark ask that question earlier in the show “while I was working out.”  Mental picture of the day: Bud Selig in some tight Under Armor, sweating and pumping iron while a highly paid personal trainer says “PUSH IT BUD!!!”

You’re welcome.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
28 Comments

We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.