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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Starlin Castro, Just Move On

I wasn't going to weigh in on the whole Starlin Castro incident until I heard Kevin Millar's take on the MLB Network the other day.

Turn around Starlin!!!!!
For those that are unaware on the topic at hand, Castro was caught on camera not paying attention in the field as a pitch was thrown. Castro was clearly miffed at an at bat earlier and his emotions sidetracked his job on the field. A rookie error indeed but unfortunately for him this happened during ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball national telecast. Joe Morgan Bobby Valentine then went on a seven minute rant during that half inning lambasting the young star. At one point Bobby V even stated, "If those things are allowed to exist, then a cancer will form within the team." Really Bobby? This is the cancer that takes the Cubbies down? I guess things like winning games, huge multimillion dollar contracts, Jim Hendry, and Carlos Zambrano have nothing to do with the downfall of the Cubs.

Not a cancer

The next day Millar went on the offensive against Castro, however he waffled continuously over whose fault this was and could never definitively come up with a true opinion. Nobody wants to give this guy any slack only because he has had lack of concentration issues in his short past as a pro. Guess what guys, he's only 21 years old still. Nobody ever yelled at Paul O'Neill of the Yankees for taking imaginary swings out in right field especially after he had a bad at bat earlier. The only argument these guys use is that anyone at that level should know better and it's totally inexcusable. Young players, especially the ones from the Latin countries are pulled up so fast to play ball in the bigs that they have even less time to grow up and mature. It's obvious that we expect way too much from these guys in such a short amount of time. Castro is already being likened to guys like Derek Jeter which are huge expectations for a kid trying to make it. Jeter is a one of a kind superstar and putting pressure on a kid to be something that he may not be is not fair to him and in the end may make him a worse ballplayer.

The Cubs did the right thing for the game after by benching Castro and giving him a "Metal Day Off." I'm sure this is only because on the national attention that this got. I for one know that things like this happen more than not. Even though guys are facing the batter doesn't mean they are paying attention to the next pitch or are ready to field a ball. I've done this, you may have, let's get over it and start paying more attention to a guy who is a bright spot on a Cubs team that is mainly a disaster.

For those of you that can actually manage listening to Bobby Valentine here's the rant:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Should Not Be Laughing At This.......But I Am

Where Did All The Day Games Go?

I finally get a weekend off from work and would like to sit back, enjoy a cold beer, and watch a ballgame. This to my dismay will not be happening on this fine Saturday afternoon as the earliest game happens to be the national Fox telecasts at 4pm. The rest of the day's slate of games start at 7pm eastern time or later. Not too long ago everybody seemed to play at 1pm. Business won't be booming for MLB in the primetime slot on a Saturday night. Nobody cares....bring back afternoon weekend games. I really don't feel like watching the Mets at 4pm as I would probably want to gouge my eyes out but I'll have to man up and deal with it. Feel like discussing anything else? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Respect the Game: Headhunting Edition

Over the past several weeks there have been several incidents of pitchers throwing at batters. I'm going to detail two recent episodes and show how at times it is appropriate to throw at hitters. Let's see if you recognize any of these scenarios.

Scenario 1:
Pitcher A is locked in a pitching dual with the opposing team's ace. Late in the game Pitcher A gives up a homer to Hitter A who stands in the box and admires his big fly. After a few tense moments Pitcher A gets into a verbal spar with Hitter A to get moving. The homeplate umpire warns both benches before any fisticuffs erupt. Hitter B steps up to hit in the next at bat and promptly watches a fastball coming at his head which he avoids. Pitcher A is then thrown out of the game, the benches empty but no fight ensues. Pitcher A later receives a 6 game suspension from the league for his actions.

Scenario 2:
Pitcher B is struggling in his outing. After giving up his fifth homerun in the game, he clearly becomes frustrated and can be seen fuming. Hitter C steps up to the plate after the latest homer and gets a ball thrown at his hip and manages to avoid it. Pitcher B, clearly not satisfied with the last pitch, throws another pitch at the batter's hip and is ejected from the game. Pitcher B walks off the field, empties his locker and tells clubhouse staff that he's going to retire. Pitcher B later receives a 30 day ban from his team.
Do any of these situations sound familiar? If you guessed that Pitcher A was Jered Weaver and Pitcher B was Carlos Zambrano then give yourself a big pat on the shoulder. In my opinion Weaver was justified in what he did, unlike Zambrano who probably should not be playing baseball ever again. 

Pitcher A

Pitcher B

In Weaver's case it is becoming more and more popular for a hitter to stand there and watch homeruns fly out of the park without punishment. Back in the day if you did that pitchers like Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson would ensure that you never did it again. There's a certain respect for the game that needs to occur here so batters really need to put their heads down and round the bases and celebrate with your team in your dugout. I understand that homeruns are MLB's moneymaker but as a pitcher myself I understand the frustration in giving one up and having to watch a fool make a mockery of you. Maybe there should be fines for doing it like in the NFL where touchdown celebrations have been cut down.

Carlos Zambrano's situation should not have occurred period. Just because you're having a bad day doesn't mean you get to take it out on the other team. He deserved his team suspension and should just retire. Somebody with an ego that volatile needs help.

Let's end this with one of my own personal stories. My team was playing a game against one of the top teams in the league. After our team was down by like 8 runs the other team started making a mockery of us and started a game of whoever hit into an out had to do pushups in the dugout which became very annoying. I came in to pitch in an effort to stop the bleeding and I got the first batter I faced to pop out to the shortstop. As I turned to watch my fielder catch the ball, the batter dropped to the ground and did a set of pushups right on homeplate. Sure enough the next guy I faced had one thrown at his head which he ducked out of the way of. I made no attempt to throw at him again as I was only looking to send a message. After the inning ended, the offending batter came up to me to express no ill will with what happened. I told him flat out if I ever faced him again that he'd be eating a fastball. Never again did that team try anything stupid with us from that point on.