To the players, the rivalries aren’t that big of a deal for their own sake

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Following up on that stuff about fraternization from yesterday: I wasn’t aware of it until a reader told me yesterday, but there is a rule against players making nice before games. It’s Rule 3.09:

Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.

Well, good for Rule 3.09. It’s still stupid, even if it’s in the rule book.  I spoke this morning to Joe Sheehan — who will be our guest on HBT Daily later today — and he said that the rule is an old one, borne of a fear that players will conspire to fix games, which was not uncommon back in eighteen-dickety-seven through 1919.  Not so much of a concern these days, and certainly divorced from the notion of pretending that baseball players on opposing teams are blood rivals.

Which, according to Lance Berkman, who got a glimpse of the Red Sox-Yankees thing last year and is now heading into Chicago for the first time as a Cardinal, is certainly not the case:

“The fans and the media are the ones that really get that fired up about it,” Berkman said. “I mean for us, obviously we want to win, they’re a tough team. But it’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a blood match.'”

I think that, to the extent you see animosity among rivals it’s a personal thing. There were some Red Sox players who really didn’t care for Alex Rodriguez a few years ago. There are likely some Cardinals who don’t like Carlos Zambrano at all.  But “Red Sox vs. Yankees” and “Cubs vs. Cardinals” is more of an abstract concept.  Sure, the competition is fierce, because all competition at the professional level is fierce. And yes, if there are serious stakes in play, the competition can be ratcheted up a notch.

But the tribalism if “Cubs bad, Cardinals good!” just isn’t the kind of thing that resonates in big league ballplayers.  And I’m fine with that.

UPDATE: Conflicting reports on the Blue Jays calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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UPDATE: Welp, Hécto Gómez may not have this one right. Scott Mitchell of TSN is reporting that it’s “highly unlikely” Guerrero is recalled unless some sort of injury occurs, so I suppose we should all stand down.

Anyone up for keeping him down until the Super Two cutoff in June?

3:35 PM: Héctor Gómez‏, a baseball writer from the Dominican Republic, reports that The Blue Jays will call up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He will reportedly make his MLB’s debut on Tuesday. The Blue Jays have not confirmed this yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear sometime this weekend.

As we’ve noted over and over, Guerrero has nothing left to prove in the minors and has not had anything to prove there for some time. Guerrero is currently 7-for-17, with a line of .412/.500/.824 in five Triple-A games this year. In one he hit the ball clear the heck out of the stadium. This coming off a 2018 season in which he hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 408 minor league plate appearances.

A minor injury in spring training made Guerrero unavailable for Opening Day and gave the Jays cover to keep him down in the minors to start the season. With that Guerrero is ensured of not getting a full year’s worth of service time in 2019 and thus the Jays have obtained a full six years of control of him after this season. As such, there really is no baseball nor business reason to keep him down on the farm any longer.