Yesterday, big-time talk radio host Colin Cowherd claimed that A.J. Burnett went through a nasty divorce last season and implied that led to his trouble on the mound. Cowherd said:
“A.J. Burnett went through a terrible divorce and he still might (be) going through it. His wife was vindictive and spiteful. I don’t even feel comfortable telling you everything.”
Which would be way more interesting if it wasn’t for the fact that Burnett and his agent said a few hours later that the report was a flat out lie:
“A.J. is ticked. He is not going through a divorce, and if he was, it would not be anyone’s business. They are happily married … This is irresponsible and reckless on Cowherd’s part. His reporting inaccuracies should be brought to light. This must be his idea of shock jockery.”
Last week we had premature reports of Bob Feller’s death. Yesterday an apparently inaccurate report of Burnett’s divorce. Unlike a lot of people I don’t think that gossip is, in and of itself, a bad thing. But I think there’s a big difference between a potentially inaccurate trade rumor or humorous anecdote on the one hand and stuff dealing with real life and death issues on the other. In the former case strive to be accurate and stand accountable for your mistakes in the event that you are wrong. In the latter case? Boy, you had better be right.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.