“They call me ‘Mr. Baseball,’ not because I love the game, but because of all the stitches in my head.” — Emo Philips
If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless.
Despite his conspicuous talent, Puig last season was remanded to the minors to get the point across that baseball, despite modern, no-upside compromises, remains a team game. It didn’t take.
In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires. Yet, some are good with that, or at least pretend to be in the shallow hope of being heard or read as avant-garde.
Wednesday’s topic on Colin Cowherd’s FS1 show was, “Does Baseball need more personalities like Yasiel Puig?”
More? How many games does “personality” win? Why not ask, “Does baseball need more players who can’t be bothered to run to first, even in the biggest games?” Or, “Does MLB need more players who’d rather show off for TV cameras than play winning baseball?”
Why would anyone who knows good from bad, right from wrong, even throw out such a question? Inspired by immodest adult fools, Little Leaguers now pose at home, bat-flipping, risking something for nothing.
“He’s our high-energy guy,” teammate Chris Taylor said of Puig, despite repeated evidence to the contrary. “He likes to pump everybody up.”
That’s like Homer Simpson’s boast that he’s good for business because when he’s on the job, “everyone has to work harder.”
Last season, after a game-ending single, the Nats’ Jayson Werth was interviewed on TV, a chat carried on the public address system. Werth, 37, shouted obscenities into the microphone.
The next morning, ESPN eagerly played that tape, expletives deleted. Afterward, pandering Molly Qerim declared: “I love it! We need more postgame interviews like that!”
Yes, such interviews would make great companion pieces to “more personalities like Yasiel Puig.” More stitches, anyone?
Smoltz’s silence on bullpen use speaks volumes
For all the just-say-anything filler FOX’s John Smoltz has spoken this month — his emphasis on trying to get the leadoff batter on is a real eye-opener, as was his Game 4 claim that “the Yankees don’t beat themselves” when they’d trailed 4-0 on two errors — he clams up when it counts.
The Yanks’ must-get trade deadline guy this summer was Sonny Gray. But in Game 4 of the ALCS, Joe Girardi delighted the Astros by yanking Gray, 27, after five innings of two-hit, 85-throws pitching in a 0-0 game. Then, with the Astros up, 4-1, manager A.J. Hinch delighted the Yanks by removing Lance McCullers, 24, after six innings and 81 pitches.
With both managers trying to lose, the Astros succeed, losing 6-4.
Despite the DH, here was another game in which very good pitching was swapped for the unknown. And Smoltz’s silence became his tacit approval.
The Yanks, as Smoltz noted, have a strong bullpen. Yes, sometimes. But why risk sometimes? Why pull Gray, the guy the Yanks just had to have when he was doing exactly what they got the guy to do?
It’s crazy, as if Smoltz, who threw a nine-inning, five-hit playoff game in 1997 — and pitched until he was 42 — felt this was practical, logical managing.
But credit FOX for this: Every time an opposing player reaches base, it cuts to Girardi to see if he’s on the phone. With Gray walking the first batter in the sixth, FOX either caught him grabbing the bullpen phone or ordering pizza.
If the future isn’t what it used to be, neither is humor. This week brought three examples of how cheap, pithy comments can pith people off.
Sunday during Giants-Broncos, NBC’s Al Michaels cracked, “The Giants are coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein.” That might have been partially excused had it been even marginally clever.
Later, Michaels apologized. Sorta. It was one of those dismissive jobs, as if a few viewers had no sense of humor about a man accused of being a serial sexual predator. He said, “I was a little flip about somebody obviously in the news all over the country. It was not meant in that manner. So my apologies, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Sure, whatever he says.
Monday, after CC Sabathia won Game 3 of the ALCS, WFAN’s Steve Somers called it “an AA performance!” Get it? He was alluding to Sabathia’s admitted alcoholism. And what’s funnier than alcoholism?
The next day, on ESPN Radio-NY, Bart Scott, hired as a CBS NFL studio analyst despite several ugly episodes as a Jet, addressed Sunday’s Jets-Dolphins, saying of Miami QB Jay Cutler, “I hope his blood sugar is low.” Cutler is an acute diabetic.
Ford feat needs context TV skips
Why are producers of nationally televised games eager to demonstrate their ignorance?
In Game 2 of Cubs-Dodgers, Jon Lester was pitching when a large graphic showed him fourth among lefties to start the most postseason games. With 21, Lester was seen one behind Whitey Ford; Andy Pettitte is first with 44, then Tom Glavine, 35. There wasn’t even as asterisk to indicate the significant: Ford’s starts were only in the World Series.
Play-by-player Brian Anderson repeated the numbers, sans context, then Ron Darling made bad worse with, “Lester just passed Whitey Ford in innings pitched in the postseason; he’s now sixth, all time.” Ugh.
Unless you love forced laughter and baseball spoken in broad-brushed platitudes, FS1’s stars-studded pre- and postgame postseason shows have been a waste of our time and FOX’s money.
Before Game 5, FOX field reporter Ken Rosenthal spoke of “high-leverage” situations. Game 5, series tied; what’s a low-leverage situation?
Was Gary Sanchez schooled in any catching fundamentals while in the minors or did he miss those classes?
Not that there’s a good time to promote Snoop Dogg’s new show on TBS — in addition to being a vulgar N-wording, women-degrading rapper with a long rap sheet, he’s a hard-core pornographer — but in pop-up ads over live MLB playoff games? Sure, why not?
During Game 5 of the ALCS, Joe Buck said, “irregardless of what happens.” As the Simpsons’ Ralph Wiggum said, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”