The Cardinals are number one at number one and number two

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Given a choice between covering a World Series in St. Louis vs. San Francisco, the selfish part of me is pulling for San Francisco because (a) I have a lot of friends there; and (b) it’s San Francisco.  But I’m not a fanatic about it, and my mind is open for persuasion on the matter.

For example, when the self-proclaimed urine and feces experts — really, the site is called “UFE: Urine and Feces Everywhere” — say that Busch Stadium fans demonstrate the best bathroom hygiene in all of baseball, well, that’s a definite plus in the Cardinals’ column:

What can you say about Busch Stadium when you consider that it was the only park in our survey to get an “A” rating? One hundred percent of the women wash their hands in the restroom, and the men are not too shabby when it comes to restroom hygiene, either. Busch Stadium is one of the few parks that the UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) Team would feel comfortable shaking another fan’s hand.

In these rankings being number 30 — where the Cardinals are — is the best. Being number one is the worst (though maybe I’d invert it and number two).  Among the other playoff teams still standing — or, in some cases squatting — the Yankees are the worst at number 7, The Tigers are at number 20 and the Giants are at a quite respectable 23.

The worst in all of baseball: Wrigley Field. Though, in Cubs fans’ defense, it is almost certainly way less hygienic to actually touch the faucets in those nasty bathrooms than it is to bust out of there as quickly as possible hoping that you didn’t do anything too gross to yourself.

(thanks to Jonah Keri for bringing this loveliness to my attention)

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.