Baseball was an integral part of our nation’s healing after the tragedy of 9/11, and as it has done every year on the anniversary of those attacks, baseball will honor the memory of those lost on that day.
Today there will be on-field tributes at all 15 parks hosting games, with players, coaches and umpires, wearing an American flag patch on the side of their caps (the Blue Jays will have an American flag on one side, Canadian flag on the other). Special lineup cards will be used for each game. Home clubs will mark the anniversary with pregame ceremonies, including a moment of silence, and the “We Shall Not Forget” MLB silhouetted batter ribbon will be displayed throughout ballparks. Today at 12:30 PM MLB Network will re-air the “Nine Innings From Ground Zero” special about the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series which took place after the attacks.
The caps, as has been the case for a few years, will be available for sale at MLB.com, with 100% of the net proceeds being donated to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pa., and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
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.