Olney: Ban high-fives for pitchers after bad performances

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In an Insider column for ESPN, Buster Olney wants a moratorium on high-fives for pitchers after getting lit up. You can read a little bit before being asked to log in, including this:

This is not about pace-of-play rules, or shattered maple bats, and OK, I’ll admit it, this is really not that big of a deal. But for someone who watches thousands of games a year, this is an issue that sticks out to me like a pimple on the forehead of the game. Every time I see this happen, I feel like a neat freak staring at a crumpled napkin in the middle of the kitchen floor. An unwritten rule has apparently taken over the sanity of everyone in dugouts across America.

This is approaching Grumpy Old Man territory. The pitcher isn’t getting rewarded for performing poorly; he’s being shown support by his teammates. Imagine being a salesman and being ignored by your coworkers every time you have a day with low sales. Isn’t it a much better environment in which to work when your coworkers are kind and supportive to you, regardless of your performance?

Furthermore, Olney’s view makes the assumption that a pitcher is one hundred percent responsible for the results. We know that luck plays a huge factor, and there’s also the input from the opposing batter, any runners on base, as well as the catcher and the rest of the defense. If, say, Clayton Kershaw gives up three runs, should he sulk in the corner of the dugout corner by himself, or should Howie Kendrick join him for making a wide throw to Jimmy Rollins on an attempted double play?

For a sport that’s supposedly dying (and as Craig will happily tell you, it surely isn’t), sportswriters make a frequent effort to kill any avenue in which players can show off their personalities and endear themselves to fans. If some had their way, players would be nothing more than mindless robots performing only sport-related tasks and nothing else. High-fives are awesome. Chest bumps are awesome. Uniform untucks are awesome. Celebratory mobs at home plate following a walk-off home run are awesome. Players having fun in turn makes fans have fun watching them and it’s ultimately good for the sport.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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