Astros fall down a lot in loss to Cardinals, blame U2 and Bono

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U2 had a concert at Busch Stadium on July 17 and in preparation for the event the Cardinals had to strip the field and then afterward bring in new grass from Colorado, with the recent high temperatures making the re-sodding effort very difficult.

Before last night’s game groundskeeper Bill Findley told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the new grass “wasn’t healthy enough to put a pattern on it” and then during the game the visiting Astros fell numerous times on a surface Goold described as “bare and the dirt exposed to the drying and cracking heat.”

Here’s how Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle described the issues:

Hunter Pence fell coming in on a fly ball that turned into a triple, Michael Bourn just fell in center field, and Jose Altuve fell rounding first on a single. Also Jason Bourgeois had a ball elude him for an error.

Now, in fairness to U2 (which are words I never expected to type, ever) some of that can probably just be blamed on the Astros being a terrible team with an MLB-worst 33-69 record. After all, they fall down and make errors plenty no matter the locale. With that said, afterward several players and coaches talked about how little traction there was on the new grass.

Or as Hunter Pence put it: “I didn’t expect it to be tough until I fell down.”

Words to live by, really.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.