Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Category: Baseball

It’s almost lunchtime read this stuff I wrote

Two Hot Sports Takes for you this week. One is on Phil (groan) Mickelson’s British Open win, in which I compare him to Kanye West, among other things, including a heart attack.

The other is about why baseball fans obsess over the trade deadline when it’s so often underwhelming, in retrospect.


Straightening out The Slurve

The Slurve is a truly excellent daily baseball newsletter written by Michael Dougherty, whose white whale is MLB’s investigation into the players mixed up with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, which he supports. Here’s the nut of today’s edition:

Anything that can be done to punish the cheats is an effort to live up to the contract everyone signed, it’s an effort to change the culture of baseball locker rooms and the incentives of individual players.

The key word here is “anything.” This is, basically, the language of police brutality and prosecutorial overreach. If you believe in the system, you can’t call the players “cheats” before the results trickle in unless you want to turn the All-Star break into an infomercial for your own hobbyhorse. If you’re really concerned about how this scandal is going to affect a younger generation, you might want to wait until all the facts are in (or any of them, really).  The problem is not with the Joint Testing Agreement. Players get suspended all the time with little more than a few words from most writers. The problem is living with uncertainty: Did the players use the drugs or not? And can MLB prove it? If you feel comfortable muddying a player’s name before you can answer these questions, the only thing that’s certain is that you’ve backed yourself into a corner of a house on fire, chased there by your own self-righteousness, waiting to be saved by the man with the gascan, the kids with the matches already to blame.

Tito returns to Boston

I know you don’t get a chance to take a break or something, but if you do, read all about Terry Francona’s return to Boston at Over the Monster.

El Barto

I wrote about Bartolo Colon, a man who cannot not throw strikes, for the Classical. There are jokes about him being a larger-than-average human contained therein.

Clay Buchholz, Carnie Legend

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

I wrote this for Over the Monster. Basically… what I said in the headline.

Game 3: The Sound Of Silence

We’ll be silent here today in memoriam for the Sox’ undefeated season.

I’m going to Wrestlemania on Sunday. That’ll be good.

Game 2: New Clay, Same As The Old Clay

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Clay Buchholz’ nightmare goes something like this: There’s a man on first base. After four pickoff throws, Clay finally nails him, and there’s a small celebration, and he looks back over, and the runner’s still there. For all the talk about Clay’s shortened time between pitches this offseason, he’s still crazed by runners at the cold corner. That’s fine, if he can repeat what he did last night — 7 innings, 1 run — for the season. Just don’t tell me it’s a new guy. We’ve seen this show before, and it’s a good show.

The Yankees lost the game when Hiroki Kuroda took a liner off the fingertip, and crawled back into it in the eighth inning when they cut a six-run deficit in half, thanks to Vernon Wells’ three-run homer off Alfredo Aceves, a guy who probably thought Heath Ledger’s Joker was too predictable. The Ace of Chaos’ mess was nothing Joel Hanrahan couldn’t nicely clean up, and the game that will forever be known for the first of Jackie Bradley’s 5,000 hits ended like you finish an ice cream sundae, having saved the cherry for the end. The Sox still haven’t hit a home run this season, but it doesn’t matter when nearly everyone comes to mash. It helps when you’re playing the Yankees’ MASH unit, but a win’s a win, and if the Yanks are going to let Jose “American League for Rey Ordonez” Iglesias hit .600 in the Bronx, that’s not a good sign. Iglesias doesn’t like the cold, by the way, and looked like a human peapod out there, albeit one with the range of Daniel Day-Lewis, or a soprano, or whatever metaphor you want to use. Dude gets to balls, as does Bradley, whose defense Baseball Prospectus nailed:

He doesn’t possess otherworldly speed, but his instincts are so good that the end-product would be above-average in the majors right now.

For the second game in a row, he tracked down what looked like a potential warm-air homer without huffing and puffing his way there; he just sort of materialized under the ball before bringing down as gingerly as catching an egg. Honeymoon periods always end, but they sure are fun while they last.

Fearless prediction for tonight’s game: Jonny Gomes blasts the first homer of the season, and I win my poker game.

All In A Summer Day

My dad and I went to Mets Opening Day, which is a special time in a place that’s been largely allergic to special times for 27 years.

Game 1: Red Sox Win, Season A Success

Well that was worth waiting for, huh? I have to admit I didn’t see any of it until just now. I went to Mets Opening Day, mistakenly thinking that the Sox and Yankees were playing Monday night instead of at the exact same time. But man oh man, was it fun watching those numbers on the Citifield scoreboard. 2-0. 5-2. 8-2. It was like watching a bear market spring to life. It was tomorrow, and, like Annie promised, the sun had finally come out.

Since this is a Jackie Bradley, Jr. blog, let’s focus on dude’s three walks and ridiculous catch in left. Walking in your first at-bat against CC Sabathia, as a lefty no less, is a good sign. Maybe the service time discussion is moot — why would the Red Sox send him down to Triple-A when they’re on pace to finish 162-0? — but it’s likely still a major issue, now that Bradley’s got to be sent to the minors for 20 days in order to delay his free agency until 2020. There seems little question that Bradley gives the Sox the best lineup they could have right now, and Ben Cherington is determined the figure out the rest later. Everything broke right for the Sox in this game, and that won’t happen every day, but it’s pretty great when it seems like ages since anything went right. The Sox are off today, then back at it tomorrow night in the Bronx. I might be there, but the Mets emptied my pocketbook to the tune of $115 per ticket for the opener. Those Mets fans love their Opening Days.

Anyhow, it was the Sox’s day. Take it away, Rodney:

Okay, maybe bring up Jackie Bradley Jr.

Marc Normandin made a convincing case  on the Over the Monster podcast today that putting Jackie Bradley Jr. on the Opening Day roster would not cause the seas neither to go dry nor boil, despite the hang-wringing of those including yours truly. I urge you to listen. The crux of the argument is that Bradley can always do an end run around his service time requirement, and there have been cases as recently as last year, with Mike Trout, where keeping a player in the minors for service time reasons may have cost a team a playoff berth — that is, when David Ortiz comes back (Ortiz’ absence having indirectly created the space for Bradley in the first place), if Bradley is good enough to keep in the majors even then, well, then, let the guy play. There was some joking about Bradley signing an “Evan Longoria contract” within a couple weeks of being called up, which I’d love, but they Bradley is a Scott Boras client, and Boras’s clients don’t often sign those. Still, dare to dream, you know?

The other factor is defense, which — let’s be serious — wouldn’t be a big deal to bite the bullet on for nine games, but Bradley’s is apparently outstanding, and would be an upgrade from anyone they could dredge up. None of this made any sense to Matt Kory, who was shocked to the core that this is a serious possibility. At this point with this Red Sox team, this is such a good problem to have that I can’t get too worked up about it anymore. I’m with Normandin, If he plays, he plays. The team plays most of the first month at home, and it would be easy to sneak him back down to AAA to get his time once they hit the road. And if he’s just *that* good, Jeremy Lin-style? You don’t keep that lightning in a bottle. The real math is: 9 games now or 20 days later, and the value over replacement production Bradley provides in 9 games now versus however many later. This is probably close, and in favor of starting him later even given the rash of injuries now, but the Sox have a problem now to which he’s the solution: The question that’s unknowable is whether or not they ultimately care about the service time. Kory’s frustration presupposes that they don’t. I have no idea of knowing whether they do or not. If Bradley starts on Monday the Sox aren’t fucked. They’re fine.

And if that didn’t convince you, well, check this out, from Buster Olney via OTM again:

Player carries the ‘it’ factor. Presidential presence to game. Regal. However, the player has been the most popular man in Columbia, S.C. from the 1st day he walked on campus and he had me glued to the TV last year watching the College World Series. Mesmerizing defender. Jaw-dropping defensive skills. Patrols CF with a determined grace, with flare. Would have happily paid good money just to watch his pregame batting practice and infield. Acrobatic and skilled. Catches every ball with flare. Covers ground like a gladiator. Plus handles the glove in CF like Omar Vizquelwould in the infield. Amazing defensive skills. Innate ability to hawk the diamond. Better defender in center field than majority of major leaguers right now& [You] can’t teach the things this kid can do defensively. Made the parallel play coming directly in on a ball ala 1998 Andruw Jones. Sick defender.

The dude was glued to a television. That’s a lot of fumes. They worked.