The Mariners take an easy step to prevent players driving drunk

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By definition, a person who gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk isn’t operating at full mental capacity. I mean, even a guy who hired people whose job it is to keep him safe got behind the wheel while drunk, so you can see that even the outrageously well-reasoned notion of “driving drunk is totally idiotic” doesn’t easily penetrate a drunk’s addled mind.

As such, it’s always more effective to keep the message to the would-be drunk driver simple and direct. Like, say, taking his keys from him. Or calling him cab. Or having a designated driver who will literally sit behind the wheel to keep the drunk away from the controls.  Another way to deal with it is how the Mariners are doing it with their players:

“Two years ago, we came out with cards in English and Spanish giving the numbers of car services players could call for a ride home,” traveling secretary Ron Spellecy said.

“This year, one of the guys at the car service came up with the idea of giving everyone a key fob. I asked our merchandise people, and they said they could come up with one.”

When Spellecy got them he began handing them out to everyone in camp.

I’ve been around people who have had to been talked out of driving drunk. The simplest stuff always works the best. Having a big phone number of a guy whose job it is to drive players and team executives home right on his key chain has to be even more effective than a cab because there won’t be any looking for phone numbers or “I don’t wanna pay for a cab” stuff to get past.  It’s not foolproof of course, but the idea that a player can be so easily reminded that he need only make one phone call, sit back down in the bar and, a few minutes later, have a guy show up in a Lincoln Town car to take him back to his spring condo in comfort strikes me as a great idea.

Good job by the Mariners. Here’s hoping it’s as effective as it seems like it should be.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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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.