The New York Post is running the Mets now

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Yesterday I linked and mocked an eminently mockworthy column in the New York Post which took Yoenis Cespedes to task for playing golf despite having a quad injury. Never mind that there was and is no suggestion that playing golf was bad for Cespedes’ quad. Indeed, the author of the column even admitted that as his premise. No, it just looked bad, he argued. “Bad optics.”

Today Mets GM Sandy Alderson buys in 100% to the “bad optics” line, while admitting that, in reality, there is nothing negative about Cespedes golfing apart from the “bad optics.” Still, he’s gonna crack down on Cespedes anyway. From Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:

On Thursday, Alderson added that he has come to a “mutual agreement” with Cespedes’ representatives that the outfielder will refrain from golfing, at least for the time period when it could be viewed negatively by the public.

“I’ve had conversations with his people, but not directly with Yoenis,” Alderson said. “But that message will get to him, at least circuitously, and probably directly . . . The golf is bad optics. Let’s just start there. Our doctors have told us that probably had no impact on the injury — positive or negative. But let’s face it: You play golf during the day and then go out injured in the evening, it’s a bad visual. I think he recognizes that at this point. So we’ll go from there.”

You know what else is a “bad visual?” Keeping a guy who injured his quad on July 8th active and running him out to the outfield every day despite the fact that his leg is hurt. Those are more than just “bad optics,” actually, it’s mismanagement. Alderson admits, at least, that they made a mistake in how Cespedes was handled by the team. But, sure, golf is the problem. Wait, I’m sorry, golf isn’t itself a problem. Golf in “the time period when it could be viewed negatively by the public” is the problem.

What a cowardly comment. Golf is either bad for Cespedes’ injury or it isn’t. If Alderson believes his doctors who say that it isn’t, there is no reason to prevent Cespedes from playing golf — or handwringing over the “optics” of it — other than fear of and acquiescence to whatever a columnist from the New York Post thinks. It’s a total capitulation to the tabloids and the sorts of things that get tabloid readers angry during a frustrating season.

Here’s some news for Alderson that shouldn’t be news: sports fans, especially tabloid-reading and talk radio-listening fans, get agitated by almost anything an athlete does during his free time. They hate that they buy big houses and date pretty women and go out to expensive restaurants. They hate when they’re not just the right amount of sad when they lose (but not TOO sad lest they be seen as something less than a leader). They hate when they rely on old cliches. They hate when they say something that isn’t a cliche. They hate when they don’t wear their uniform the way some star did at whatever point in history the fan in question happened to be 12-years-old. They hate when they exercise their contractual rights. They hate it when they’re outspoken. They hate it when they don’t talk to the press. Really, other than hitting homers or tossing shutouts, there’s a certain breed of fan who doesn’t like a damn thing athletes do other than entertain them. They’re gladiators who are to be seen only doing one, narrow thing and who are never to be heard. Having any personal interests is bad. A “distraction.” “Bad optics.”

That’s the fan that New York Post column was catering to yesterday. That’s who the Daily News was catering to when it wrote that “Cespedes’ fancy cars are a problem” column last spring. That’s the fan Sandy Alderson is catering to when he says stuff like this:

“Yoenis has his own personal life that sometimes is larger than life. We’ve seen that from the beginning of spring training.”

As if playing golf and liking nice cars is somehow “larger than life” for a professional athlete. Or to anyone else for that matter (I bet Cespedes spends a lower percentage of his salary on cars than most fans do). Nevertheless, to Alderson and the Mets, a player having a personal life is “bad optics,” so it has to go. It has to go even if it’s not an actual problem. It has to go because the muckraking media says it’s a problem. The tabloids say so, and so it must be.

Congratulations on letting the New York Post run your team, Sandy.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball and telling stories about the pitch, died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details. A statement from the Perry family said he “passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 after a 24-16 season and with San Diego in 1978 – going 21-6 for his fifth and final 20-win season just after turning 40.

“Before I won my second Cy Young, I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

Perry was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and spent 10 seasons among legendary teammates like Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who said Thursday that Perry “was a good man, a good ballplayer and my good friend. So long old Pal.”

Juan Marichal remembered Perry as “smart, funny, and kind to everyone in the clubhouse. When he talked, you listened.”

“During our 10 seasons together in the San Francisco Giants rotation, we combined to record 369 complete games, more than any pair of teammates in the Major Leagues,” Marichal said. “I will always remember Gaylord for his love and devotion to the game of baseball, his family, and his farm.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Giants teammate Orlando Cepeda said Perry had “a great sense of humor … a great personality and was my baseball brother.”

“In all my years in baseball, I never saw a right-handed hurler have such a presence on the field and in the clubhouse,” Cepeda added.

Seattle Mariners Chairman John Stanton said in a release that he spoke with Perry during his last visit to Seattle, saying Perry was, “delightful and still passionate in his opinions on the game, and especially on pitching.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

Perry is survived by wife Deborah, and three of his four children in Allison, Amy and Beth. Perry’s son Jack had previously died.

Deborah Perry said in a statement to The AP that Gaylord Perry was “an esteemed public figure who inspired millions of fans and was a devoted husband, father, friend and mentor who changed the lives of countless people with his grace, patience and spirit.”

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.