Ken Rosenthal has an exclusive interview with Tino Martinez, who recently resigned as the Marlins hitting coach amid allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive to players. It’s a fantastic interview in which Martinez does what people involved in clubhouse controversies rarely do: he says exactly what happened between him and the players who have accused him.
You need to read this in Martinez’s own words to get the full flavor — he provides a dialog-based play-by-play of the encounters — but the upshot is that Martinez, on two occasions, asked players to do something entirely reasonable — help other players pick up balls in the batting cage — only to have them pull some “why should I?” thing. Martinez said that he used profanity to correct the players’ behavior in both instances, and in one grabbed one of the players by the jersey and maybe pushed him back.
Now, that’s Martinez’s side of the story. It’s possible that the players involved have different stories and we can’t be 100% sure who is right without being there. And we can’t say whether or not Martinez’s acts were provoked or justified or, alternatively, whether they were out of bounds regardless of provocation.
But it’s fascinating that Martinez is opening up like this and well worth a read.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.