Jeff Pearlman writes today that Ryan Dempster is a hero for throwing a baseball at Alex Rodriguez. But I’m not quite sure how strongly he feels about it. Please judge for yourself:
F**k you for cheating. F**k you for stealing paychecks. F**k you for influencing the outcomes of games. F**k you for lying. F**k you for dragging us all down. F**k you—Ryan Braun and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada and Nelson Cruz and Barry Bonds and Jhonny Peralta and Paul Lo Duca and every other guy who felt the need to inject nonsense into their bodies to help accomplish what, naturally, they could not.
But no, people aren’t irrationally upset about what a baseball player has done. And me saying that, perhaps, people have blown A-Rod’s transgressions out of proportion is totally radical and crazy and I just do it for page views. Yep.
Say what you want about Pearlman — I know a lot of people don’t care for his stuff — but he is a respected journalist within the industry who regularly publishes well-read books and has spent time at some prestigious publications such as Sports Illustrated. Maybe he’s out there quite a bit, but make no mistake: there are a lot of people who feel this about A-Rod even if they don’t put it in print.
And thus when I say that maybe, just maybe, people in the media are unfairly painting the guy as History’s Greatest Monster, I am not being hysterical.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.