Bryce Harper, Jonny Gomes, Kevin Kiermaier and post-Awards silliness

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The aftermath of the MVP voting was really weird, you guys. Among the stuff that happened:

Bryce Harper, on Scott Van Pelt’s late night SportsCenter, was reluctant to answer a playful hypothetical question because he was worried that his answer would become a “may may.” By which he meant “meme.” I offer no criticism of him on this because it’s not like anyone but degenerate Internet addicts like me think all that much about memes let alone says the word out loud. Unfortunately and ironically, however, Harper’s pronunciation of the word will now likely turn him into the very thing he most feared: a may may.

Second, AL MVP Josh Donaldson credited Jonny Gomes for helping him change his approach at the plate when they both played in Oakland. This is not weird, actually, it’s quite understandable. I’ll just observe that this is just the latest example of creeping Jonny Gomesism in Major League Baseball. It used to just be that we’d get an unreasonable number of stories about how critically important he was to a team that (a) he was not really a key part of; and (b) wasn’t very good in the first place. Now he’s the MVP whisperer. And, in some places, a gosh darn prophet:

If we manage to defeat ISIS and usher in peace in the Middle East, I have no doubt that our top generals and diplomats will give Jonny Gomes a shoutout. HE’S THE GLUE, MAN.

Finally, on a personal note, I made some Twitter observations last night about how Rays Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier — who received a handful of MVP votes himself — was not particularly well known among casual baseball fans or sports fans in general. This was not a judgment of any kind. I’m a sucker for center field defense and I think he’s a slick player with a bright future. It was just a statement of fact with which I feel it is difficult to disagree. If I was poking fun at anyone with respect to Kiermaier’s relative obscurity it was talk radio hosts general sports media figures like Skip Bayless who don’t follow baseball all that closely, not Kiermaier himself.

Kiermaier, who must have found those tweets by searching for his own name, then decided to search MY Twitter feed, found a silly pic I posted of me with my cats and mocked me, saying that no one listens to a person who looks like me. While this may be undeniably true — I am quite a ridiculous and non-influential person — the funny aspect was that part of the mocking related to the number of Twitter followers I have. Which is weird because I have more followers than he does, I’m not even some allegedly super famous well-known baseball player, and do these facts not make my original point for me?

Anyway, when I and others told him that he misinterpreted me and that I meant him no ill-will, he blocked me. Note: I wasn’t following him anyway.

I have no idea what Major League Baseball teams look at when they determine a player’s “makeup,” but I have the sense that “vanity-searching one’s self on Twitter, getting hyper defensive about being mentioned, misinterpreting observation as offense and then cowering from some silly, old, harmless, bald and crazy cat lady on the Internet” is a bad marker for such things. Anyway: still love your game, Kiermaier. Sorry about your cat hangup. Cats are amazing.

And now, with Awards Season over, we head into the darkness of the offseason in earnest. If you do not expect or appreciate silliness in these lean times, I have no idea how you make it through the winter.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.