While Tino Martinez was a fine major leaguer for most of his 16 years, he’s also now easily the weakest performer to receive a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. The former first baseman was given his day today as the first of four additions to the Park this year, joining Joe Torre, Goose Gossage and Paul O’Neill. Gossage’s day will come tomorrow. Bernie Williams is expected to be added next year.
Tino’s plaque focuses more on two singular events than his career numbers in seven seasons with the Yankees and leaves out the other nine years altogether, though that’s typical for the Yankee plaques.
Martinez drove in 100 runs in five of his seven seasons with the Yankees, but it was the late 90’s… everyone drove in 100 runs. In 1999, he was one of four Yankees to do so. His only season in the top 10 in the AL in OPS was 1997, when he finished second in the MVP balloting on the strength of his 141 RBI on a first-place team. But he never finished in the top 10 in WAR, he never won a Gold Glove (or deserved to) for all of his “superlative defense” and he was just a lifetime .233/.321/.351 hitter in 99 postseason games.
So, yeah, fine player. And the Yankees are free to do what they want with their park. It just doesn’t seem quite right that Martinez is in and Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles aren’t, not to mention some of the deceased Hall of Famers also not included.
The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.
Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.
Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.
Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.
Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.