Help rename the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Vote Fireflies!

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It was announced some time ago that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees — the Bombers’ Triple-A team — would be getting a new name. This to coincide with their renovated ballpark and stuff.  As has become the custom over the years, the team let fans come up with names. And … here they are:

– Blast: A tip of the cap to the area’s rich mining history, and the sound of future New York Yankees hitting home runs at the newly renovated PNC Field.

This one will help local newspaper writers come up with punny headlines for years, so it’s got that going for it.

– Black Diamond Bears: Another look back to the mining days, combined with the ferociousness of the black bear.

Actually, black bears are now more widely thought of as being on the timid-end of the bear scale, so maybe not.

– Fireflies: The state insect of Pennsylvania, and a sure sign of summertime in Northeast Pennsylvania.

My favorite. My suggestion for the mascot.

– Porcupines: A “renegade native” of Northeast Pennsylvania that displays the fighting spirit of area residents.

OK, but seems more like an A-ball or independent league kind of mascot. Maybe it would work if the hats were cool.

– RailRiders: A reference to the area’s history on the rails.

Always good when you can invoke the idea of hobos.

– Trolley Frogs: A trolley frog is the mechanical part of a trolley, and Scranton is, after all, the home of the nation’s first electric trolley car.

The “after all” is what kills me. Because of course everyone knows this. That aside, I have this feeling, given the dumb times in which we lived, if I called someone a “trolley frog” there would be some sort of debate of whether I was being racist, so that could be cool.

Oh well. Vote here between now and August 24th.  Not sure if you can write in “Yankees,” but it seems like that is still the best name.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.