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“Friends” — the key to English for many ballplayers

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There’s a fun article in the New York Times today. James Wagner talks to several Latino major leaguers who are obsessed with the sitcom “Friends.” And who credit it for their English language skills.

Wagner talks to Freddy Galvis, Luis Severino, David Peralta and Miguel Gonzalez, all of whom watch “Friends” all the time and all of whom, in part, learned or improved their English while watching the show. Wilmer Flores too, who says this:

“Now that it’s on Netflix, I always put it on and watch it. When I get up in the morning, I turn on the TV, and whatever episode is there I’ll watch and keep watching. I stop it when I come to the stadium. When I come home from the stadium, I pick up where I left off.”

Liking “Friends” is a matter of taste. I, like everyone else in the 90s, watched it all the time, but it’s aged poorly in my view, at least in a critical sense. But so too was the case with all of the reruns of 60s and 70s shows I watched when I was a kid in the 80s. Those shows were terrible, but sometimes a laugh is a laugh and we could all use the laughs.

As for the English: I seem to remember reading something, somewhere in the 80s about a ballplayer who credited “Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island” or one of those shows with his English language skills. It was the same general principle: the show was on all the dang time and via repeats and the cliche/obvious situations, it was a lot easier to grok the language due to the context.

UPDATE:

Which is pretty cool. At least until some ballplayer, in a postgame interview, says “Could I look more for my pitch to hit?”

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.