A.J. Pierzynski was introduced as the Braves’ latest acquisition yesterday, and he was in character. From Mark Bowman of MLB.com:
“I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team win,” Pierzynski said. “If you need me to fight the guy, I’ll fight the guy. I’ll do whatever it takes because I want to win the game. For three hours, I don’t care who is pitching [against my team]. Mark Buehrle is one of my good friends. But when we’re facing him, I want to kill him. Then afterwards, we’ll go out and get a beer.”
That pretty much captures what Pierzynski has been about his whole career. He probably does the back-and-forth thing better than a lot of players, which is part of why he’s always been more polarizing, but you don’t last in baseball until you’re 38 if people within the game think you’re a complete jackass. At least you don’t if you’re not a superstar. Which is to say that, while a lot of fans hate Pierzynski, people inside the game probably grok what he’s all about.
He is rather fascinating, though. Probably the closest thing baseball has to a hockey goon. Put some glasses on him and he’s a Hanson Brother.
The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.
After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.
Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.
Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:
In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?