The guy who stole that home run ball in Boston being called “The Angel of Fenway”

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The guy who grabbed a home run ball out of a woman’s hand to throw it out onto the field, and who is reported to have called a black fan nearby “Trayvon” and “Prince Fielder’s crackhead brother” has a fan club! It’s the mouth-breathers over at Barstool Sports Boston, who have dubbed this fine gentleman “The Angel of Fenway” and are quite upset that anyone thinks differently of the guy.

Upset at me in particular, as they quoted my post about it at length under an old picture of me and accused me of overreacting. It’s not racist to tell a black guy to “go back to the ghetto,” the Barstool guy says. Really!

They took specific issue with me when when I implied that the guy taking the baseball from the woman could be construed as assault and battery. But hey, don’t take the lawyer’s word for it. Here’s some legal discourse that absolves the guy in their view:

Has there ever been a bigger overreaction to anything in the history of earth than this guy’s take on the “Angel of Fenway” throwing that ball back last night? Trying to insinuate that it was the same thing as stealing her cell phone? That it was assault and battery. Umm no it’s not.  This wasn’t preplanned. This guy wasn’t taking it for himself.   It was pure instinct.  He did what he thought was right in the heat of the moment.  He was making a point. At worst it was a dickhead move. At best he won the game.

I think it says everything about the impotent wannabes at sites like Barstool that they think this guy could have “won the game.” They’re the sort of fans who believe they are far more important than the really are. Who believe that their ridiculously over-the-top passion actually has impact beyond allowing them to enjoy the game and making themselves feel better.  But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these guys, and not David Ortiz won it! Don’t doubt Boston pride! You wouldn’t understand!

In other news, I would suggest they take their own advice and see what it does for them. Go out and commit some actual crimes sometime, dudes, and tell the police that it’s OK because you didn’t preplan it and it was all in the heat of the moment. I’m pretty sure that’s a total defense to everything ever. One more:

But to start comparing it to a real crime is so far off the reservation crazy that it’s mind boggling.

Yeah, no one would ever think that taking a ball out of another fan’s hand by force is a crime. Well, except for police:

A teenager was assaulted and robbed of the home run ball he claims he retrieved Wednesday during the Giants’ loss to the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park, police said. The 16-year-old was in the standing-only section above Levi’s Landing in right field when he scrambled to fetch the seventh-inning home run hit by the Red Sox’s Stephen Drew, Officer Albie Esparza said Thursday … Right after the victim took possession of the baseball, the suspect allegedly tackled him from behind, twisted his wrist, then pried the ball away and fled, Esparza said.

There was some he-said, he-said about it all but the fact of the matter is that police considered the matter a potential criminal act.

Oh, and the fan in that incident? The one who had the ball allegedly taken from him? Red Sox fan. How much you wanna bet that the Barstool guys are far more critical of the ball-snatcher there?

Zack Greinke understands that “the opener” isn’t just about in-game strategy

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Over the weekend, Craig was among those cited as having criticized the Rays by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Craig wrote about it in Sunday’s And That Happened. Many of the responses from Rays fans to him on Twitter, at least most of what I saw, conflated distaste for ownership’s penny-pinching for a belief that the team is bad. Indeed, the Rays enter Tuesday’s action 64-61 and their position above .500 has something to do with “the opener” strategy, which is when they have a reliever like Sergio Romo start the game before handing the ball off to an actual starter after an inning or two. Other teams, like the Twins, have taken notice of “the opener” and have begun experimenting with it.

On Monday, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller published a lengthy column discussing how recent changes to the game of baseball have made it a worse product. He quotes a lot of old-timers, which I discussed yesterday. Miller also quoted Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke on the subject of “the opener.” While quotes from the likes of Goose Gossage and Pete Rose were a bit more eye-popping, Greinke’s thoughts shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Greinke said:

It’s really smart, but it’s also really bad for baseball. It’s just a sideshow. There’s always ways to get a little advantage, but the main problem I have with it is you do it that way, then you’ll end up never paying any player what he’s worth because you’re not going to have guys starting, you’re not going to have guys throwing innings.

You just keep shuffling guys in and out constantly so nobody will ever get paid. Someone’s going to make the money, either the owners or the players. You keep doing it that way, the players won’t make any money.

Back in May, I wrote about how the overarching concept of “bullpenning” creates a serious labor issue in baseball. Greinke touched on exactly those points. An elite starter makes significantly more money than an elite reliever. Compare contracts signed by David Price (seven years, $217 million) and Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million) to the contract signed by Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million), which is currently the most lucrative contract signed by a reliever. It wouldn’t crack the top-85 contracts in baseball.

A starter’s number of starts and his innings pitched total are both cited in arbitration filings and contract negotiations. A pitcher who made 33 starts in a season will have more leverage than a pitcher who made only 15 starts. Meanwhile, Romo and Ryne Stanek‘s innings totals aren’t much different than a normal year of relief. Thus, if you’re Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and GM Erik Neander, spreading the number of starts (and innings) between the “rotation” and bullpen will reduce the cost of pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible starters. The owners save this money and pocket it instead of reinvesting it into the team. Then they’ll turn around, cry poor, and ask residents of Tampa to foot the billion-dollar bill for a new stadium in Ybor City, roughly 25 minutes from their current digs.

Greinke is right and we should pay attention to what he’s saying. While “the opener” has some strategic merit, particularly for teams with less-than-complete starting rotations, it also conveniently helps save money for stingy and exploitative front offices. We’ve already accepted that a third of the league gave up on the season before it began. Let’s not accept that teams can give up on their pitching staffs as well.