Baseball is dying, you guys

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As we observed last week, it’s not enough to note that the World Cup is getting great ratings and is generating a lot of passion and excitement. Or that, generally, soccer continues to grow in the United States. We must turn it into a zero-sum game and observe all of this in the context of baseball’s long-discussed demise (note: the discussion began in the 19th century).

The latest to provide a eulogy — or, technically speaking, a terminal diagnosis: Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philly Inquirer:

Baseball’s been a lifelong companion. But the old game is looking a little frail, and I worry about its future.

I can’t easily express any specific concerns. The worries my gut sense haven’t yet reached my head.

Something doesn’t feel right.

It’s like that moment we first noticed our parents’ mortality. Maybe it was nothing more than an incongruous comment, a faraway look in their eyes, or an uncertain step, but whatever it was, we instinctively knew nothing would ever be the same again.

Of course, all of that is leadup to a discussion of the World Cup. Which while it is wrongheaded and insulting about baseball, manages to insult the World Cup as well by not discussing it on its own terms as opposed to in terms of baseball’s alleged demise.

Then again, the author refers to a game involving “the Florida Marlins” from just last week, so maybe we’re not dealing with a guy who knows a whole hell of a lot about anything.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?