OK, I’ve finally had a chance to see the video of the A.J. Pierzynski hit-by-pitch. It’s here, and as you’ll see, he was so totally not hit by the pitch. It bounced in the dirt and then hit home plate umpire Tim McClelland, but it never touched Pierzynski, who flopped like a French soccer player. A brief argument ensued, Romero was apparently distracted and the next hitter — Alexis Rios — hit a two-run homer breaking up the no-hitter.
Totally weak on Pierzynski’s part. It’s one thing to have the ump award you a base when the ball doesn’t really hit you — if it happens you put your head down and get down to first before he changes his mind — but Piersynski’s Bette Davis act, complete with the limp and the hobble down the baseline, was pretty damn weak.
But then what do you expect from Pierzynski? This is a guy who spiked Justin Morneau. This is a guy whose own manager said “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate
him a little less.” He’s not well-liked, and bush league theatrics like this are part of the reason.
Not that I’m complaining. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a big pro wrestling fan in the 1980s, and I think baseball needs more heels. Pierzynski is not a big enough star to pull that sort of thing off himself, but if someone huge like, oh, I dunno, Alex Rodriguez decided to become baseball’s version of Ric Flair I see no reason why Pierzynski couldn’t be its Tully Blanchard. Ozzie Guillen could be their J.J. Dillion. If they get a couple of guys to be Ole and Arn Anderson they could be baseball’s version of the Four Horsemen. They could start hitting baseball’s faces over the head with metal
chairs and everything.
And it’s not like he doesn’t have experience with this sort of thing.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.