Doug Fernandes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has some advice for Joe Maddon and the Rays when they face the Yankees next week:
Joe Maddon has an answer for everything, so I’m sure the
Tampa Bay skipper doesn’t need any advice on how to handle the fallout
However . . .
This one time, an exception will be made. If I were Maddon, I’d have
Matt Garza deliver the pitch heard ’round the Bronx, and felt in the
general rib-cage area of Derek Cheater, eh, Jeter.
Darn straight. Monday night at Yankee Stadium, the start of the
four-game rematch between two teams with another reason to amp up the
dislike, I’m ordering Garza, the scheduled Rays’ starter, to plunk the
New York shortstop the first time he comes to the plate.
Nothing too injurious, certainly nothing around Jeter’s head. But a
fastball buried somewhere in his side, according to baseball’s unwritten
code, is in order.
Then, as Jeter shakes off the pain–which I hope is considerable–and
trots to first, Garza, normally a fiery sort anyway, needs to shout
something to the effect of “that base you deserve.”
Wouldn’t that be fun?
If, outside of the sports world, someone suggested a course of action with the purpose of inflicting “considerable pain” on a person and then called it “fun,” that person would be considered a sociopath or worse. But this is baseball, so it’s perfectly acceptable. Oy.
Stepping off my hitting-players-on-purpose-is-lunacy soap box, I’ll note that it’s stupid for another reason too: Derek Jeter ain’t hittin’ all that well these days, so plunking him in the ribs and awarding him first base is to do him a favor.
Other than that . . .
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?