Serious code violation: Brandon Belt sat in Matt Cain’s seat during the perfecto

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I don’t believe in almost any superstition. There may be an exception or two I’m forgetting, but most of it is hogwash and hoodoo for the feeble-minded. And spare me your Crash Davis “if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you *are*!” speech. Save it for someone who’s afraid to step on the foul line while walking out to the field.

But even if I don’t believe in the superstitions themselves, I do believe that such things can become accepted enough practices among a sufficient number of people that you should at least respect the beliefs of others, however misguided they may be in provenance. It’s not a matter of thinking that their violation will cause some great harm. Rather, it’s a matter of just being cool to someone and not violating a social code. I’ll note this is how I view religion too, which is why you’ll never hear me getting up in someone’s grill about what they believe as long as it’s not harming me or anyone else.

The point of all of this: if I was pitching a perfect game — in San Francisco, say — I don’t think I’d make a point to sit in the same spot in the dugout after each inning or not talk to anyone of whatever else it is that pitchers in such a situation do. It has no effect on how I’m pitching. The key would be to make sure I didn’t lose my concentration or mojo or whatever it was, and I don’t think I’d tie that to those sorts of things.

I would, however, if I were a position player on a team in which a pitcher was doing such things, make sure not to step on whatever it is he’s doing. It’s something that Brandon Belt didn’t do last night, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea reports:

With Matt Cain closing in on the 22nd perfect game in major league history, and the first in the Giants’ 129 years as a franchise, Belt sat down in the dugout after the seventh inning to take a deep breath.

“I sat down and Cainer just stopped and stared at me,” said Belt, whose eyes grew wide with panic. “Yeah, I guess everything was OK until I sat in his seat.”

Can you imagine the perfect game was lost right after that? Belt would probably want to go find a hole someplace in which to die.  And it would suck for all of us Belt fanboys too, because the dude is just now starting to get some regular playing time, and I would bet that the ruckus all of that would cause would be enough for Bruce Bochy to exile him to Fresno or San Jose or points even farther away.

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.