Instant Karma: Angel Pagan and John Harper

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There’s nothing wrong pe se in John Harper’s Daily News column today. In fact, I’d probably rather see Fernando Martinez get the nod over Angel Pagan until Beltran comes back too. But he’s written enough dunderheaded stuff in his life that I got a chuckle out of this anyway.  The column:

The ball was hit to shallow center field, too shallow for a runner to score from third. Or so it seemed. However, Angel Pagan promptly showed again that his instincts for baseball never seem quite right, and offered reason to ask whether he should play center field in Carlos Beltran’s absence.

Today’s Mets-Cardinals game: Angel Pagan hit two-run, come-from-behind walk-off homer with one out in the ninth.

It proves virtually nothing, and Harper’s criticism of Pagan’s defense stands, but I like it simply because it illustrates how the model of writing in which a guy is bashed one day, and is made a hero the next day that seems so popular in the east coast tabloids really doesn’t lend itself to baseball.  The long view matters so much more in baseball than in any other sport, and we get so much less of the long view than we probably should.

Two great Mariano Rivera stories

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In addition to getting unanimous support from Hall of Fame voters, Mariano Rivera’s election is getting universal praise from fans and the baseball community. I mean, at least it seems so. If you see someone out there in the wild really mad that Rivera was elected, please, let me know. But don’t approach such people. They’re probably dangerously imbalanced and might cause harm to you.

From what we’ve seen, anyway, there is no one who doesn’t love Rivera and his election. That love has come out in the form of anecdotes people are sharing this morning. I’ve seen two that made me particularly happy. One “ha ha” happy, the other “aww” happy.

The “ha ha” comes from Michael Young, who shared the ballot with Rivera this year and whose Rangers actually beat Rivera’s Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Not that they had much success against Mo:

Now the “aww.” It comes from Danny Burawa, who had a few major league cups of coffee after coming up in the Yankees system. From his Instagram last night:

In 2012, in the middle of my first big league spring training, I tore my oblique during a game (I wound up missing the whole season). First cuts hadn’t been made and the Yankees let me stick around to rehab with the big leaguers for a few days. The next day, after finishing my rehab, I returned to the locker room which was totally empty. I’m sitting at my locker getting ready to go home when in walks Mariano Rivera. Considering I was a nobody A-baller, I kept my eyes down on my feet and minded my own business. Next thing I know, he’s in the chair next to me, telling me his story, about failing as a starter, about an injury he had when he was younger, about how the setbacks we think are fatal usually end up as speed bumps on a longer, grander road. This is the greatest of all time, taking the time to cheer up a nobody, for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do. Great pitcher, greater human, congratulations Mo!

People use that “great player, better person” construction a lot. I often roll my eyes when I hear it because it’s pretty subjective and, I suspect, the “better person” part can’t be vouched for outside the subject’s friend or peer group. Doesn’t sound that way with Rivera, though. He simply sounds like a prince of a guy.