“”If you love baseball, you loved Ron Santo”

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They held Ron Santo’s memorial service in Chicago today. Bud Selig spoke. Tom Haudricort transcribed his remarks. In addition to the words in that headline, he  included a great anecdote about the man:

“The move of the Milwaukee Braves to Atlanta in the mid-1960s left a void in the lives of everyone in my family. We filled that void with the Chicago Cubs, and no player embodied Cubs’ baseball more than their great fielding, power-hitting third baseman, Ron Santo. He played with unbridled enthusiasm, relentless energy and a tremendous heart.

“My daughter, Wendy, was a youngster then and she, like many young Cub fans, instantly identified Ron as her favorite player.

“One day, my mother, who was a great baseball fan and also a Ron Santo fan, bumped into Ron at a golf course in Arizona. She told Ron her granddaughter just loved him. Ron smiled, took the cap off his head, signed it and asked my mother to give it to her granddaughter. To Wendy, Ron Santo was elevated from favorite player to hero. In turn, over the years, Ron never failed to ask me about Wendy, and, to this day, Ron’s cap remains one of Wendy’s most prized possessions.”

I slam Selig for his rhetoric quite often, but good on the Commissioner for telling that story. Bud Selig is a lot of things, but I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s a real baseball fan.

Rest in peace, Ron Santo.

Manny Machado rips MLB Network talking heads over double standards

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Manny Machado has had his fair share of controversies. There was the stuff about his lack of hustle last fall. He’s thrown bats and ran into and over guys and has argued with umpires and all of that stuff. Is he well-liked? Not really. Is he a dirty player? Some say so. But even if you don’t say so, he’s been involved in some dirty plays and he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. We chronicled much of that last fall.

But he’s certainly not the only guy who has done that sort of thing before. Others have and, I think it’s fair to say, others have not caught as much flak for it as he has. There are reasons for that too, of course. Part of it is that a couple of Machado’s transgressions came in very high-profile situations like last year’s playoffs. Part of it is that he’s a big star who makes a lot of money and guys like that tend to get more attention and heat than others. Part of it is that a lot people simply don’t like Machado for whatever reason.

Machado talked at length about that last night when he took to Instagram to mock MLB Network analysts Eric Byrnes and Dan Plesac, who were going on about the Jake Marisnick plunking and his barreling into Jonathan Lucroy that led to it. Byrnes and Plesac were defending Marisnick. Machado noted that he would never have gotten that kind of defense had it been him doing the barreling instead of Marisnick.

Watch (warning: NSFW language):

 

I don’t think he’s wrong about that. Again, some of it would be justified in that Machado does have a reputation and when you have a reputation you don’t get as much benefit of the doubt. But it’s also the case that Machado was not getting much benefit of the doubt — including from these guys in particular — well before that reputation was established.

Over at the Big Lead, they found examples of Byrnes going after Machado way back in 2014. Machado’s transgressions have, from the beginning, been cast as a those of a dirty, hotheaded player who lacks class. Other players who have done exactly what Machado has done often get excused for showing “passion” and “competitiveness” or for “playing hard” instead of “playing dirty” even when there isn’t all that much actual difference between the acts in question.

Machado says it’s attributable, at least in part, to him being Latino. I think people can reasonably disagree on the question of whether Machado, personally, has been unfairly judged. But I think it’s pretty indisputable that, generally, Latino players get way, way, way less benefit of the doubt for “hard play” vs. “dirty play” and for being “hotheaded” as opposed to being “competitors” than non-Latinos get. Those stereotypes are well-established. Academic research has been conducted on that stuff, confirming such inherent bias on the part of white commentators. Some of Machado’s peers in the game have said the same thing, both in general, and about Machado’s treatment personally.

Which is to say, whether or not Machado has earned the treatment he gets, he has a point here.