Dice-K suffers from "intestinal turmoil"

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Stand by me guy.jpgOne of the reasons teams have media relations people is so that a nice little shine can be put on news tidbits that aren’t particularly shiny. Health updates are one of those things. For example, did you know that there’s an exhibit in the PR Professionals Hall of Fame dedicated to preserving the memory of one Alfred R. Wilkinson? Who is Alfred Wilkinson you ask? Why, he’s the former Yankees PR man who came up with the term “flulike smptoms” to cover for Mikey Mantle’s legendary May 19th-23rd 1962 Minneapolis bender, and it’s been used ever since. It’s true! (note: may not be true).

I bring this up because I’m sure the Boston Red Sox have their own version of Alfred Wilkinson, and he probably should have been consulted before Terry Francona briefed the media on why Daisuke Matsuzaka had to cut his side session short today:

Daisuke Matsuzaka was forced to abandon his scheduled side session
due to what Red Sox manager Terry Francona classified as ‘intestinal
turmoil.’ The pitcher threw up after executing long toss, not getting a
chance to begin his work in the bullpen. Matsuzaka was sent back to the
team hotel with the hope that he will be able to throw a lighter side
session Thursday.

“He got sick,” Francona said. “I don’t know how you say that in
Japanese, but he puked.”

Sure, maybe “flulike symptons” is not appropriate for Matsusaka’s particular situation, but I’m sure there was a more artful way that could have been phrased. How about “stomach flu?”  Or perhaps he had a sore thumb!  Everyone has one of those these days!

But really, if the Sox are going to bypass their P.R. people, the least they could do is let Dustin Pedroia do the briefings. I’m sure the guy who came up with “laser show” could characterize Dice-K’s little problem in a much more entertaining way.

Max Muncy and Matt Beaty step on Rhys Hoskins’ ankle on consecutive plays

Rich Schultz/Getty Images
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In the 10th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS last year, infielder Manny Machado — then with the Dodgers — stepped on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar, understandably, wasn’t happy about that and both teams’ benches spilled onto the field. It was a continuation of a tumultuous series for Machado, who was also vilified for not hustling and sliding hard into Orlando Arcia twice. The Machado-Aguilar dust-up served as a referendum on Machado’s character until he finally signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres.

Recently, Machado criticized the analysts on MLB Network for holding double standards. Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes argued with Greg Amsinger about the Jake Marisnick collision at home plate with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Amsinger felt Marisnick was in the wrong; Plesac and Byrnes defended Marisnick. On Instagram, Machado said if he had been the one who bulldozed Lucroy, Plesac and Byrnes wouldn’t have defended him, in part because he is Latino. Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones said earlier this year that Machado would “one hundred percent” be treated differently if he were white.

With that context in mind, something interesting happened in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s game between the Dodgers and Phillies. Leading off the top of the fourth inning against Aaron Nola, Max Muncy grounded out to shortstop Jean Segura. As Muncy crossed the first base bag, he stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle. On the next play, Matt Beaty beat out an infield single hit to third baseman Maikel Franco, shifted up the middle. As Beaty crossed the first base bag ahead of the throw, he tripped over Hoskins’ ankle. MLB.com hasn’t posted video of the incidents yet, but here’s a look at both plays from @jomboy_ on Twitter:

We rarely see runners tripping over the feet of first basemen, but here we have it happening on back-to-back plays. Hoskins’ footwork around the bag was textbook given the situations. The commentators on the exclusive YouTube broadcast gave the runners the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, there has surprisingly been little discussion of these plays. A July 18 game isn’t exactly Game 4 of the NLCS, but look at how much conversation the Marisnick-Lucroy play generated and that was less than two weeks ago. These plays deserve a “Was it dirty?” conversation.

One wonders what the conversation would have looked like if it had been black or Latino runners stepping on Hoskins’ ankle on back-to-back plays. Would they have gotten the immediate benefit of the doubt like Muncy and Beaty? Would malicious intent have been ascribed to them instead? That, really, is Machado’s point about the double-standard applied to non-white players. It doesn’t excuse any of his obviously terrible behavior, but if we’re going to criticize players for bad behavior, we should do so evenly and fairly. Muncy and Beaty deserve criticism for their poor, sloppy, dangerous base running. Frankly, Major League Baseball should consider fines and/or suspensions. Machado was fined for stepping on Aguilar.