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.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.