NL All-Star voting update

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Yadier Molina and Buster Posey are neck-and-neck tatto. David Wright is getting help from the cougars! Did Domonoic Brown do something awful to the pets of every All-Star voter?

Confused? You won’t be, after this week’s episode of … “SOAP!”

Er, sorry. After this week’s NL All-Star voting update:

FIRST BASE
Joey Votto, Reds 2,047,945
Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs 1,524,517
Allen Craig, Cardinals 1,191,229
Brandon Belt, Giants 997,066
Freddie Freeman, Braves 924,937

SECOND BASE
Brandon Phillips, Reds 2,021,277
Marco Scutaro, Giants 1,717,875
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 1,508,314
Chase Utley, Phillies 982,966
Daniel Murphy, Mets 786,414

SHORTSTOP
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 2,443,772
Brandon Crawford, Giants 1,293,476
Jean Segura, Brewers 1,188,317
Pete Kozma, Cardinals 905,976
Andrelton Simmons, Braves 771,665

THIRD BASE
Pablo Sandoval, Giants 2,180,147
David Wright, Mets 2,053,744
David Freese, Cardinals 1,152,038
Chris Johnson, Braves 829,420
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 686,905

CATCHER
Buster Posey, Giants 2,606,434
Yadier Molina, Cardinals 2,543,588
John Buck, Mets 866,471
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers 630,902
Brian McCann, Braves 627,056

OUTFIELD
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals 2,385,240
Justin Upton, Braves 2,054,225
Bryce Harper, Nationals 1,981,030
Ryan Braun, Brewers 1,645,094
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies 1,508,355
Matt Holliday, Cardinals 1,330,471
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates 1,319,419
Hunter Pence, Giants 1,286,163
Shin-Soo Choo, Reds 1,274,755
Angel Pagan, Giants 1,131,176
Carlos Gomez, Brewers 1,027,684
Gregor Blanco, Giants 934,174
Jon Jay, Cardinals 884,323
Domonic Brown, Phillies 837,748
B.J. Upton, Braves 733,744

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.