Last night’s game was just another reminder of how as much as I love baseball, sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me.
For the second time this season against the Red Sox, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was found to have a foreign substance on his person, presumably to help him pitch. (It was not the second time this season he was caught by cameras with the pine tar. His outing in Toronto was also enhanced by the sticky substance.)
After the first time against the Sox I felt pretty ‘meh’ about it. None of the players complained, good for him he got away with something. But last night irritated me on a few different levels. So let’s give thanks to Pineda for causing my first rant of the 2014 season.
Before the game John Farrell responded to a question about pine tar by saying “I’m sure I would expect that, if it’s used, it’s more discreet than the last time.”
Yeah, not so much.
I don’t have any idea if I should be mad that Pineda uses pine tar. Apparently everyone uses it and no one in the game usually cares. What annoys me is how everyone blows it off (including and especially the players) as if it isn’t a big deal when it is, regardless of how well it is hidden, against MLB’s rules. This isn’t stealing signs. This is something specifically against the rules. If you want the rule changed, you’re in a union, go talk to them. But the rule is there and if the only time it’s going to be enforced is when it’s so bloody obvious my legally blind father with a 10 year-old NON HD television can see it then I think that’s pretty ridiculous.
I’m also annoyed by the way the entire Yankees team was only too happy to throw Pineda under the bus the moment the game was over and the questions came out. Sure, he’s an adult, makes his own decisions, blah, blah, blah. And it was pointed out to me last night that dugouts between innings aren’t exactly libraries so it’s possible his manager, the coaches, his teammates and everyone else in there didn’t notice the giant, messy blob on his neck before he took the field in the second inning. But he’s done this at least two other times this season already. The media was all over it yesterday before the game. I absolutely do not believe that no one in the Yankees organization thought to maybe talk to this kid before the game and say “Gee, the spotlight is going to be on you, maybe cut the shit for one night, huh?” And if they did and he ignored them you would think that the reaction from, oh let’s say Joe Girardi would have been a lot more angry than it was. Girardi responded like it was no big deal (although in fairness Brian Cashman seemed a bit more miffed – probably just that his player was stupid enough to ‘hide’ it on such an obvious place).
The word ‘mistake’ has been bandied about quite a bit regarding this incident. No. It wasn’t a mistake. It was a purposeful decision. A stupid one, mind you I won’t argue with anyone that what Pineda did was ridiculously stupid, but a specific decision and not a mistake nonetheless.
As with most of my rants, I know I’m all over the place here. There’s a part of me that sympathizes with Pineda. He’s 25, English isn’t his first language, and he’s pitching for a team that, at least in theory, offers zero room for mistakes. Who knows what kind of pressure he’s feeling or what kind of support he’s getting? And what kind of mixed messages has he received? I mean,hell, if I can’t figure out why I’m supposed to be mad about pitchers using pine tar (given I keep getting told everyone does it), how is he supposed to know if he’s doing something wrong? He knows it’s “wrong” in the sense that it’s against MLB rules but as long as you conceal it well it seems to not be “wrong” among his fellow players, coaches and managers. So in a sense it’s easy to see why he thought he could get away with it.
The players need to clean up their own mess. It sounds a bit hypocritical to hear John Farrell and John Lackey and others essentially saying the only reason they brought the umpires into it was because of how blatant it was. Suddenly we have to defend the integrity of the game (or our own egos) just because everyone can see it? So if CC is hiding something between his fingers tonight and none of us ever get a look at it, does that make him better than Pineda because he hides his cheating better?* How’s this work? Do players get the rulebook and note the asterisks next to some of rules? “Pay no attention to the red asterisked rules, fellas. Those are just there for show.”
*In case a CC fan happens to read this, I’m not accusing him of cheating. But if everyone else is right, apparently chances are he probably is.
In an ESPN.com article about this debacle, Ian O’Connor amusingly wonders if this will “sink” the Yankees season. But that isn’t the most entertaining thing about the piece. Normally, I avoid the comments but in some instances the schadenfreude is too much to pass up. My favorite comment came from someone named Joseph who wrote (and this is all cut and pasted, typos and/or misspellings aren’t mine):
I’m very disapointed in Cashman at the moment. i think he is letting the yankees get pushed around again. He shouldn’t have come out defiant. He should have denounced Farrell’s ploy for what it was: gamesmenship. He should have promised retalalition. Not say your sorry because Pineda’s only crime it seems was to try and get a grip of the baseball. The rule was designed to prevent people from doctoring the baseball not prevent a pitcher from being able to grip the ball on a cold night because that’s a safety hazard. Let’s be honest here John Farrel doesn’t give a darn about the rule. He just cares about giving his team an edge whether it is in the rules or not. Somebody should ask him if he thinks that Jon Lester should be suspended. Or if he thinks Clay Bucholtz should be suspended? My guess is that he’ll say no even though there is actual video proof that these guys cheated. If you suspend Pineda you have to suspend those other pitchers as well. Otherwise leave the kid alone.
Aside from old Joseph not knowing how to spell Farrell or Buchholz, he misses the point of why Pineda will be suspended and Lester and Buchholz only got spoken about in the media. No one on the opposing team called out Lester or Buchholz during the game (I almost wish they had. I mean I’d be interested to see how the umps reacted to the stuff on Clay’s arm and in Crabby’s glove.) which means there were no reprimands. Which brings me to another thing that makes no sense to me in MLB…why is it on the teams to police themselves? Why didn’t one of the umps approach the mound (or the Yankees dugout) and say “Yo, what up with the neck gunk?” It seems to me that MLB is as accepting of this practice as the players are – as long as the pitchers aren’t obvious enough to get caught.
The mixed message is annoying. If I’m going to be outraged, dammit, tell me why I should be!
I’d rather the media focus on how amazing the Red Sox pitching was last night – especially John Lackey. For schadenfreude, how about Derek Jeter’s absolutely horrendous defense or Mark Teixeira’s Golden Sombrero? All interesting baseball stories. Instead we get to listen to the likes of Karl Ravech say things like “There is no joy in Pinetarville” (he really said that – and then went on to say that John Farrell couldn’t really enjoy beating the Yankees last night because he knows his pitchers “cheat” too). And tonight we’ll be subjected to discussions about the length of Pineda’s suspension (10 games, equalling 2 starts – the iron hammer of Joe Torre seems a little weak) and concerns that the Red Sox opened a can of worms that their pitchers will have to pay for.
I mean hell, I’ve written almost 1500 words about the damn subject and I don’t even really know how I feel about it. I don’t like cheaters and I’m a bit of a good two-shoes when it comes to rules…so in theory I should be mad that Pineda pulled this again. But really I just wonder, if it really is being done by all of them, why more pitchers don’t get caught.
I’ll say this much, the theater of John Farrell coming out of the dugout, the umpire practically strip searching Michael Pineda and Joe Girardi almost dismantling an ESPN dugout camera wouldn’t have been quite as amusing had the Red Sox lost last night’s game. So I thank John Lackey for being outstanding and really wish the rest of it would just go away.
Okay, so I get that I’m supposed to be more upset that the Red Sox lost the game than happy that Ryan Dempster did what I’ve wanted every MLB pitcher to do since Slappy started playing again, but I’m not. Can’t find it in me to be bothered to care.*
In a perfect world, that HBP wouldn’t have ended up producing runs and Dempster would have pitched better and the Red Sox win that game without seeing that arrogant, lying, POS round the bases. But we don’t live in a perfect world. If we did, someone facing the biggest suspension in MLB history wouldn’t be allowed to continue to play out the season before his appeal is heard.
But he is. While Ryan Braun (an equally arrogant, lying POS) sits out, Slappy is allowed to stomp all over MLB playing the victim while he racks up the stats. So if we are going under the idea of Braun being as bad as Rodriguez, at least Braun took his punishment.
*This isn’t entirely true. I never want to see the Sox lose, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to chastise Dempster for taking the opportunity. Joe Girardi can complain all he wants about Dempster and the Fenway fans who cheered for the HBP, but he isn’t fooling me. He knows why it happened and he knows why it made many fans very happy. You can be mad that someone threw at one of your guys, regardless of the circumstances, but don’t pretend A-Rod is an innocent bystander in some vast Major League conspiracy when the only person responsible for any negative treatment he gets is himself.
Regardless of what went on yesterday, the Red Sox begin a new week still in first place. They’ve struggled as of late but, hell, the way they’ve been playing this year (especially compared to last year) I’m willing to give them a little leeway right now.
Things could be so much worse. We could be rooting for the Yankees this year.
“I was definitely not trying to hit him,” he [Lackey] said. “I was trying to knock him down for sure. You can see where he stands in the box. You’ve got to knock him off the plate a little. I threw a 3-1 pitch that he hit out. I was definitely not trying to hit him, but I was trying to move him back. You definitely don’t want to put a base-runner on in a two-run ballgame.”
and there’s this:
“I’ve been fined twice for hitting guys this year, and I’ve paid them because they were right,” he [Lackey] said. “But this one, I’m not afraid to tell you if I’m trying to hit somebody. I would’ve told him to his face.”
I totally buy it. While I get that Lackey has a history of letting his emotions come out at inappropriate times on the field and that it must have been frustrating to give up a bomb to the likes of Francisco Cervelli and then watch him celebrate at home plate as if he was Aaron Boone, the game was still close when Cervelli got hit and with the way things were going I have a difficult time believing Lackey purposely put a guy on base just because the guy was a jackass who hit a home run off of him. I’ll say this, though, I won’t be sad if before the series is over we have multiple photos of Jarrod Saltalamacchia holding Cervelli in a headlock.
Yes, tell me it doesn’t mean much given the Red Sox have dominated the Yankees this season and are only one game ahead of them in the standings. All I know is the Red Sox held the Yankees to nine runs this entire weekend and beat not only CC Sabathia but Mariano Rivera as well (well, Mo didn’t get the loss but he blew the save). They were an uncharacteristically bad Jon Lester inning away from sweeping the Yankees, yet again, and they clinched the season series. Add to that the two wins this weekend happening on national television and Josh Reddick proving me right (I kept telling people that I’m not “afraid” of Mariano Rivera when it comes to the Red Sox facing him) and my lack of sleep this weekend was totally worth it.
Back in the days when I was employed and could liberally spend my money, I’d buy just about anything baseball-related that caught my eye. At one time I owned (what I considered) a beautiful, black Chicago White Sox alternate jersey because it was a baseball jersey, a team I didn’t hate, and I just loved the way it looked. I also owned a purple and black Colorado Rockies Darryl Kile jersey. It wasn’t so much that I was a huge Kile fan (I liked him well enough, especially given we were the same age) but more that I really liked the jersey and didn’t DISlike Kile.
So nine years ago today, while getting ready to watch Fox’s Saturday baseball, I was shocked and saddened when they announced that Kile had been found dead in his hotel room. My strongest memory is of Joe Girardi, then the catcher for the Cubs, coming out and asking Cubs fans (the Cardinals were playing the Cubs in Chicago that weekend) to, basically, not freak out because the game had been canceled. (I don’t believe they announced to the fans exactly why the game was being canceled, but my memory often fails me.)
The rest of the weekend, the media spent their time speculating that Kile’s death was due to drugs, or alcohol or both. (I remember talk of a joint being found in the hotel room. I have no idea if it was even true but I remember how they tried to make the appearance of marijuana some shocking information. “OOh he was smoking POT. NOW we know why he died!”) As I often do, I immediately began to obsess on Kile. I was watching everything they were showing on him and, again, his age really made it easy for me to connect to him.
The Monday following his death, I was up early watching Good Morning America as it began. Dr. Timothy Johnson was on telling how a weak heart, not drugs, was most likely the cause of Darryl Kile’s death. I can still see the graphic he showed where he was pointing to parts of the heart that were probably weakened in Kile. I remember this because, as I was watching, the house I was living in, my parents house, caught fire. It was a two-family house and my uncle lived downstairs and he ran up the stairs to us screaming “Get out of the house!” right in the middle of Dr. Tim discussing Darryl Kile. Everything else, while still vivid in my mind, went in slow motion. That day was one of the longest of my life and it marked a genuine change in me. It was the beginning of some good and some bad times for me and one of the lesser changes was my immediate affection for the St. Louis Cardinals.
After a couple of weeks sleeping on a cot in the basement of an uncle’s house, I ended up living with my godmother and uncle in their extra room. A room built on to the back of their house that they used as an extra room that had a futon in it for me to sleep on while I tried to figure out what move to make next. I lost just about everything, but at least I had a roof over my head, a place to sleep and a television with cable in my room. I watched a lot of baseball that summer, and paid attention to the Cardinals almost as closely as I did to the Red Sox. That was the summer I found the Red Sox Fan Forum over at redsox.com and the year I started making “Red Sox friends”. A lot of good and bad came from that summer.
When the Cardinals made the NLDS I watched every game. The Red Sox were out of it and I already was spending time hating on the Yankees so I needed something to feel GOOD about. When they lost the NLCS in five games to, of all teams, Barry Bonds’ San Francisco Giants, I was inconsolable. I was convinced that the Cardinals were going all the way for Darryl that year, but it wasn’t to be. (I moved out of that room in May of 2004. During my time there, baseball wasn’t very good to me. I was in a very unstable emotional state for my time there and that coupled with things like the Cardinals losing and the 2003 ALCS give me too many memories of crying in that room over something that happened in baseball. Thank you baseball gods for 2004.)
So it might be silly, but because of the timing of Darryl Kile’s death and something traumatic of my own that I can connect it to, I have a very special spot in my heart for him.
It’s been nine years since Darryl Kile died. I still have my Curt Schilling High Heat PC baseball game from 2001, I haven’t played it in years (and it probably can’t even play on the newer pcs) but Darryl Kile is one of the choices of player and I refused to give it up. (It was saved in the fire because it was in my laptop the morning of the fire. Amazingly, my laptop was blown out of my bedroom by the fire but the only thing that needed replacing was the power cord.) I am emotionally irrational about Darryl Kile and realize this. So today is really a sad day for me.
I don’t usually write about Darryl Kile because, honestly, it bums me out and I try to not bum myself out on my own blog, but the rain, the long-ass game, and my own melancholy these days made me feel like getting some things down. I hope Darryl’s resting in peace.
I wrote a long, rambling blog entry yesterday that drew parallels between George Steinbrenner dying and my losing an aunt on the same day. I scrapped it because my emotions are pretty raw right now and that’s probably a bad time to be writing about the dead – especially when all I want to write about Steinbrenner is how much I disliked him and how annoying all of the “He was a good man and great for baseball” stories that are out there right now.
I’ve had some time to take deep breaths so here goes draft two (without any mention of my aunt because, honestly, it’s an insult to her memory to lump her in with Steinbrenner).
George Steinbrenner was generous to the Jimmy Fund and to most of his players (at least with their salaries). These two things I won’t dispute. The list of reasons why he doesn’t deserve glowing obituaries that make him sound like the Second Coming is too long to rehash here but we all know it exists. I don’t expect to read headlines like “George Steinbrenner is dead – woo-hoo!” but I also don’t expect tweets like the one the official Oakland A’s Twitter account published yesterday:
…baseball lost a good one today
My reaction was a loud “Are you shitting me?”.
Baseball lost a notorious one today. Baseball lost an infamous one today. Baseball lost a scandalous one today. These all would have worked. Baseball lost a good one today is just mind-bogglingly ridiculous. George Steinbrenner did amazing things for the New York Yankees team and fans, often times to the detriment of the rest of the league. This does not make him a “good one”.
I understand when someone dies folks want to put a halt to the negative talk for a day or two. What I will never get (and will never join in on) is acting like someone was a wonderful human being just because they had the misfortune of dying. This is a man who called one of his own players a “fat toad”. This is a man who took the time to mock the Red Sox after their loss at Yankee Stadium in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS with “Go back to Boston, boys!”. This is a man who insisted Don Mattingly be benched because of his facial hair. This is a man who was a convicted felon. This is a man who was suspended TWICE from baseball. This is a man who hired someone to dig up dirt on one of his own players and got a lifetime suspension from then commissioner Fay Vincent because of it (as an aside, guess who reinstated him? Fellow team owner Bud Selig. I didn’t know weasels ran in packs). Instead of being good for baseball, as so many claim today, he made a mockery of it and now that he’s dead we’re supposed to pretend he was the most amazing man to ever work in MLB? Not me. Not doing it.
I’m sorry that his family and others who love him are going through what they are because I know how much that truly sucks and I don’t wish it on anyone. That doesn’t mean his entire slate gets wiped clean…that’s all I’m saying. I’m not here to dump on the dead guy but I’ll be damned if I sit idly by while revisionist history runs amuck.
Now that I got that off my chest…
Local Yankee troll “Lou” commented last night that Big Papi lost the game for the American League with his poor base running (I deleted the comment because Lou lost commenting privileges a while ago, but he wasn’t the only Yankee fan I encountered who gave that argument).
How’s this for a dose of reality? Joe Girardi manages his first All Star Game and the American League loses after 13 straight wins on the back of Phil Hughes’ poor pitching performance (check the box score folks, the “L” is next to Phil’s name).
Last week, when Joba choked up the lead by giving up a grand slam to the Mariners just after Girardi picked Paul Konerko over Kevin Youkilis for the All Star team, I jokingly tweeted:
Mariners win. Maybe the curse of Joe Girardi being a horse’s ass begins tonight?
Yanks won the next game but they lost both Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner and now have to face the realization that Mr Girardi (and Mr. Hughes) blew home field advantage for whichever AL team makes it to the World Series (I figure this way the Sox can win the next one in Boston!). I don’t wish death on anyone (especially not sweet Mr. Bob Sheppard) so I take no glee from either death, but maybe there is a cloud forming over the house that Ruth didn’t build?
And finally, some of you mocked me when I began calling Jon Lester “Crabcakes”. He’s finally letting his guard down. Unlike Steve Buckley, I get no joy from reading about one of our players backhandedly insulting another player who hasn’t engaged first. This isn’t a Sox/Yanks Sox/Rays Sox/anyone rivalry. STFU and just say “no”, Jon. You’re a major league ball player, try acting like an adult.
Guess I still don’t have the cranky out. It’s going to be a long week and I really need a game that counts to get me through!
“I’m looking at the numbers, the numbers are close and one guy’s numbers are a little bit better. “I took the guy whose numbers are a little bit better.’’ – Joe Girardi on why he chose Paul Konerko over Kevin Youkilis to replace Justin Morneau in the All Star Game
I did my ranting about this on Twitter yesterday (Some PG-13 rated tweets there, possible R) and this morning the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the Yankees lost because Joba Chamberlain gave up a grand slam in the 8th inning, so I’m a lot less cranky about everything today and don’t feel like rehashing it all – I’ll just say this: If you’re going to cite statistics as a reason for your choice, Joe, you should probably actually look at them (here’s a hint: You DIDN’T take the guy whose numbers are a little bit better, Wile E.). My hopes for the All Star Game are that the Red Sox there represent themselves well and Joe Girardi’s team (except for our guys) gets demolished. If the Sox are fortunate enough to get to the World Series, I have faith in their abilities to not need home field advantage. I’m spiteful enough that I’d prefer every move Girardi makes Tuesday night be mocked mercilessly. That is all. 🙂
More disappointing is that yesterday was the fifth annual “Futures at Fenway” day and the rain shortened the Lowell Spinners game and made it necessary to cancel the Salem Red Sox game. The Salem team has never played in the Futures game and it was not only a disappointment for the fans, but for the players too (all of them, even the non-Sox ones, I’m sure). It’s a bummer when Mother Nature throws her monkey wrench around.
Also disappointing: Jacoby Ellsbury coming out of hiding with his pile of notes to, basically, shit on the Red Sox. Fair or not, when he dumped his agent and signed with Boras my attachment to him was pretty much lost but I still liked him being on the team and wanted him to do well. When people started calling him “soft” this year, I defended him because no two injuries are alike and I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to judge how much pain someone is in except that person. But his performance for the media yesterday left me feeling quite “meh” and thinking that I won’t miss him much when he forces his way out of Boston. Folks can’t blame the perceptions people have about him now on the media or on the Red Sox trying to make him look bad…he’s done it all himself as far as I’m concerned. That press conference yesterday was nothing more than a bunch of “I’m hurt and it’s their fault” to me. Get better and come back and help the team or get lost, Jacoby. In either case, quit your bitching. (For the record, I’m not one who believes the Red Sox hire dolts as their medical professionals nor do I think they would do something – or not do something – in the best interest of the health of their players. So while I appreciate that Jacoby wants folks to think the Red Sox dropped the ball here and can acknowledge that there was either miscommunication or just misunderstanding going on, I believe he’s letting Mr. Boras lead him around (it’s always the team’s fault, right?) and that annoys the hell out of me.
At 1:07 this afternoon, Daisuke leads the Sox into the All Star Break by, hopefully, salvaging the series win in Toronto. It would be nice for the team to go into the break with a win, if only to shut up all the writers who keep talking about how tough the schedule in July will be for the Red Sox. For what they’ve endured in this first half, I’m damn proud of this team for fighting through it and being in the position they are right now. I choose to enjoy that and let the rest of it work itself out.
How is it possible that it seemed almost more painful to watch them win last night than it was watching them lose the night before?
The game started late and ran four hours (four hours and nine minutes to be exact). Jonathan Papelbon through 28…TWENTY EIGHT pitches in the ninth inning and still got the save. On the post-game show on NESN, Dennis Eckersley made the remark that he was surprised Papelbon didn’t celebrate that swinging strike out to end the game (Eck said he would have) but, really, at that point I’m guessing Paps just wanted to go pass out…although my adrenaline was so high that I was up until around 3am.
(As an aside, as I write this I just turned on “Breakfast with the Sox’ and it’s the 6th inning and Youk just hit his home run to make it 5-1…Don’t be too sad, CC, none of the rest of the game will really be your fault.)
Okay so I caved and watched most of the first game of the NLCS. Baseball has my heart, I can’t help it.
The tough part, for me, about the NLCS is deciding which team I want to win. The Phillies won it all last year (and I was only happy about that because it happened against the Rays) so it isn’t like their fan base is desperate for another win. Plus there is Brett Myers. I just absolutely hate to have to actually cheer for him. Add to that my fondness for the Mets and you see my problems. But then there’s Manny. Honestly, were it not for Manny, this would be a no-brainer. I’d be cheering for the Dodgers to go all the way if only so Joe Torre could drop his pants and moon the entire state of New York. I would love for Joe Girardi to choke on his own bitter bile while watching Joe Torre get doused in Champagne. Alas, as I wrote to a friend last night, I’d rather pick out each of my eyelashes one at a time than watch Manny Ramirez win another World Series. These types of decisions shouldn’t be so tough.
Okay, so he went 6 and gave up no runs. My prediction skills are a little off.
I worked late on Tuesday night and missed four of those six innings. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I was genuinely stunned to come home, turn on the game and find out that not only didn’t Daisuke have 70 pitches under his belt by then but that he had only walked two batters. At the end of his six innings (plus one batter in the 7th), Matsuzaka had thrown 93 pitches (52 for strikes!), walked 3 (including the last better he faced) and struck out five while giving up no…NO runs! And for the skeptics out there, this came against the first place, 86-58, Angels. (As an aside, looking up their record it kills me that it’s almost exact to the Red Sox yet the Angels hold first place in their division by 6 games.)
It’s tough to make a generalization that Daisuke is “back” and if/when the Sox are in the playoffs the rotation could be filthy – but it’s fun to think about isn’t it? Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and Matsuzaka ALL being “on” at the same time makes my mind hurt with happiness. I try not to get ahead of myself but DAMN watching his performance (even though I had to do it AFTER the actual game) was just inspiring.