Great Moments in Hypocrisy: Jim Rice Edition

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There is nothing sadder — in any walk of life, not just baseball — than hearing older people claim that the kids today just don’t do things the right way and how back in my day it was better and all of that jazz.

Such a stance simultaneously suggests narcissism, arrogance, ignorance and pessimism. “Only I and my friends did things properly,” such people are saying. They’re also saying, however, that they pay no attention to new developments in the world and that, inevitably, things will always grow worse over time rather than better, which runs directly counter to most developments in human history.  And more than anything, such statements always — always — reflect more poorly on the person uttering them than they reflect on those whom he or she is deriding.

With that in mind, I give you Jim Rice:

“The game is still the same (but) the players have changed. There are no fundamentals in the game anymore.  That’s why I really enjoyed the game was because of the fundamentals. We had to do fundamentals. If you didn’t know the fundamentals, you weren’t playing … I don’t want to [get back in the dugout] because guys are not subject to change.  If you went back to giving guys one- or two-year contracts, it’s a different story. When you give guys five-, six-, seven-, 10-year contracts, they don’t have to change. Their money is in the bank. And if the thing doesn’t go right, who do they blame?”

Just so you know, Jim Rice (a) is sixth all-time in grounding into double plays, having led his league four straight years in his prime; (b) was a poor defensive player; and (c) most damningly to his above comments, once signed a seven-year contract, making him the highest-paid player with the longest contract in all of the game at the time.

Why the interviewer for that article didn’t ask Jim why it was OK for him to have poor fundamentals and receive long-term contracts but it’s not OK for players today to do so is beyond me. For that matter, I’m baffled why he didn’t even ask Rice to offer some evidence regarding how fundamentals are lacking in today’s players.  To the contrary, I suspect that if we were able to quantify such things, today’s players would be found to be far more athletic and fundamentally-sound than players of the 70s.

Not that I’d expect Rice to realize how foolish he sounds.  He’s just the latest person to claim that the world is going to Hell in a hand basket.  Funny how it never seems to actually get there.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.