Why did the Yankees fire pitching coach Dave Eiland if it had nothing to do with their pitching?

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There’s some mystery surrounding the Yankees parting ways with pitching coach Dave Eiland.

Last week Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reported that he was fired due to a falling out with Joe Girardi, but Eiland called that “absolutely ridiculous and simply not true” while being effusive in his praise of the Yankees’ manager.

At the same time Eiland declined to comment on the reasons behind his firing and general manager Brian Cashman has merely said that it’s a “private” matter.

Eiland took a 25-day leave of absence for personal reasons in June and Murray Chass–who was once a columnist for the New York Times and is now a schlub blogger like the rest of us–suggests that has everything to do with the move:

Cashman refused to say why he fired Eiland, but he apparently was being honest when he said it had nothing to do with the team’s pitching. The dismissal, as it turns out, stemmed from the 25-day leave of absence Eiland was granted in June. Neither the coach nor the Yankees said why Eiland took the leave other than to say it was to take care of a personal matter.

The matter was serious enough that the Yankees told him he could return to his job as long as he didn’t resume any of the activities that led to his leave of absence. He didn’t adhere to the agreement and was fired. No one has spelled out those activities, and I will refrain from speculating.

Chass has done the whole “I will refrain from speculating” thing before, like all the times he’s blogged about Mike Piazza’s back acne and accused the catcher of steroid use without actually accusing him … all years after he failed to ever mention it in the New York Times.

In this case it’s equally easy to read between the lines and figure out what Chass is saying about Eiland, which is why his “I will refrain from speculating” claim is so silly. If you know something, either say it or don’t say it. Saying it in such a way that allows you to claim you didn’t say it … well, that’s just bad blogging.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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