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Ron Darling thinks Andrew Benintendi twice broke baseball’s unwritten rules


Broadcaster and former player Ron Darling has had an interesting few days calling the ALDS for TBS. Referencing the Red Sox getting to Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2, he used an old idiom that happens to include a racial slur. Darling apologized for the remark. During Game 3, when the Red Sox were getting to starter Luis Severino, Darling suggested that the right-hander had gotten a late start warming up, explaining his struggles. After the game, Severino pushed back against the comments and denied having warmed up late. Darling didn’t see any reason to walk back his comment.

We now have a new controversy at Darling’s suggestion. The Red Sox obliterated the Yankees 16-1 in Game 3, which saw them take a 10-0 lead after four innings. In the fifth, after the Yankees clawed back to score one run, Red sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi drew a two-out walk against reliever Chad Green. With J.D. Martinez at the plate, Benintendi stole second base. Baseball’s unwritten rules typically refer to the regular season. In the playoffs, anything goes within reason, usually. Benintendi’s stolen base was in something of a gray area. Is a nine-run lead in the fifth inning big enough for a team to avoid running up the score in the postseason?

Darling said after Benintendi stole second base, “Well, I guess [that’s] from the school of never taking anything for granted. You don’t usually see that. In the postseason, maybe. In the regular season, never.”

The Yankees, however, were holding Benintendi on with Luke Voit at the first base bag. If it’s so obvious he shouldn’t steal given the game state, then don’t hold him on.

In the seventh inning, with the Red Sox still up 10-1, Benintendi went ahead 3-0 against Jonathan Holder, then swung at a fastball. Swinging 3-0 in a blowout is another behavior covered in baseball’s unwritten rules, so Darling had an opinion about that. He said, “I found [Benintendi stealing second base] unusual, but you know, you can still keep pushing the envelope. But boy, swinging 3-0 in the seventh with a 10-1 lead … there used to be a book. There’s no book anymore. Everything’s grey, but I would find that offensive, personally.”

Despite getting embarrassed on national television, the Yankees likely don’t care to focus on Benintendi’s infraction heading into Tuesday night’s Game 4. Perhaps in the regular season, CC Sabathia (Tuesday’s starter) might have gone for retribution, which would not have been out of character. Facing elimination in the postseason, however, the Yankees are likely singularly focused on the goal of staying alive. Giving the Red Sox a free base runner would only get in the way of that goal.

As an aside — and I’ve talked about this before — the broadcasters for the postseason thus far have been quite underwhelming. Many of them, like Darling, have come off as curmudgeonly. John Smoltz, for example, has spent much of his time on air complaining about the way baseball is played today and that it’s inferior to the way the game used to be played. Others, like Jim Kaat (who called Jesús Aguilar “Jesús Aguilera”), simply seem ill-prepared. More focus should be put on giving broadcasting gigs to people who are enthusiastic and make the effort to stay knowledgeable about the game and the players who play it. If I weren’t a baseball fan (or perhaps a lapsed fan) but happened to be tuned into a broadcast, I would not be motivated at all to continue watching because the Darlings, Smoltzes, and Kaats make it seem like the game is a drag and the players are buffoons.

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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