The New York press is getting desperate in their search for A-Rod intrigue

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Alex Rodriguez has been pretty uncooperative this spring training. Instead of breaking both hips and flailing miserably, he has hit pretty well for an old guy on a one-year layoff. Instead of being a big distraction he has put his head down, blended into the scenery, done his job and said all the right things.

If you’re a New York columnist who looked forward to the Alex Rodriguez Circus this spring, this all must be a huge, huge disappointment for you!

Evidence of this is just how far some in the Gotham Press Corps have gone to manufacture intrigue. Take this example from Bob Raissman of the Daily News, who notes A-Rod’s lack of participation in a comedy video the Yankees made as evidence of his alienation and, um, other bad things:

Anyone else wondering why Alex Rodriguez did not perform in the Yankees’ recent video re-enactment of the Babe Ruth scene from the 1993 movie “The Sandlot?”

Well as Jack Woltz, the big-shot studio boss in “The Godfather,” might say: “You don’t understand. A-Rod never gets that movie. That part is perfect for him.”

Indeed. An appearance by Rodriguez in the video would be tantamount to Yankees brass giving him their true stamp of approval and officially welcoming him back into the fold as a member in good standing. It would also further soften Rodriguez’s tainted image, placing him smack in the middle of a singular group of players the organization has left to market.

He then changes tack and laments that, unlike in the Core Four years, this is how the Yankees have to market their Team in Transition. He adds in a jab at “seamheads” and “saber(metric) swallowers” for not getting, like he gets, that baseball is entertainment and show business, necessitating this sort of video. Never mind that the seamheads and “saber(metric) swallowers I know have long understood that it’s just a game and an entertainment. Indeed, that’s why we haven’t gotten as worked up at A-Rod stuff as his Daily News colleagues have. They think baseball is life and death and moral and ethical statement about society. If they thought it was just showbiz they wouldn’t have been outraged at everything the guy has done for the past decade.

Anyway, go enjoy what may be the single most ridiculous angle on A-Rod yet. And pray that our friends in the New York press corps can survive one more week of spring training without losing every last one of their marbles.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.