Chris Sale Punishment Not Harsh Enough

Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Chris Sale") [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Chris Sale”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The tirade by Chris Sale this past weekend because he did not like the throwback uniforms the White Sox planned to wear is not funny. It’s not cute. It’s not someone making a stand. It is childish. It is something that if Mr. Joe on the Street did at his 9-5 job would result in immediate termination and likely criminal prosecution.

What did Chris Sale get? A five-game suspension and a fine – a fine that someone making nine million dollars a year would laugh at. In podcast #47, Gene Gumbs has a few suggestions what should have happened to Sale.

Employees don’t get to dictate team policies or dress codes. A McDonald’s employee doesn’t get to wear a Wendy’s uniform to work because it’s more comfortable. You can’t wear shorts to work at a Fortune 500 company just because you feel like it.

What, you ask, should the White Sox have done? Well, I am not naive enough to think Chicago is going to release him. But what they could do is immediately ship him out of town – and I don’t mean send him to a contender. I would send him to the equivalent of baseball hell to pitchers. Call the Colorado Rockies and see what they’d be willing to give up for a guy who is under contract for the next 2 1/2 years at a very reasonable rate. Let’s see what that does to Sale’s contract numbers the next time he signs a contract.

Colorado not have enough? Call the Oakland Athletics, the land of the backed up clubhouse sewers. Or maybe Atlanta. They’ve got a lot of young prospects, and are miles away from being a contender.

Hell, the Sox have almost no chance to get back in the race this year, so why not?

Look, it’s obvious Sale wants out of Chicago. His preseason temper tantrum when Adam Laroche quit the team because he wasn’t allowed to have his son there constantly, followed by this, is evidence of that. Someone committed to being a team player doesn’t do these kinds of things.

Of course, none of this will happen, despite the fact that Sale’s actions are exactly the kind of thing that makes people dislike professional athletes. The White Sox will coddle him or trade him to a contender; either of those things is exactly what Sale is likely hoping for.

Any fan worth their salt should boo the ever living heck out of Chris Sale the next time he steps on the field. His actions were selfish and childish, and did his team a disservice.

Also in this Episode:

  • Are the rich about to get richer when Aroldis Chapman goes to the Cubs?
  • Is Paul Molitor the right guy to lead the Twins?
  • The Red Sox still need relief help.
  • The 2016 Summer Olympics could be a train wreck.
  • My pick for team of the week

I thank you for listening! If you have any questions or suggestions for a future episode, leave me a note here or send me an email at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net.

Home Runs Being Hit at Record Pace

homerA recent article in Business Insider pointed out that hitters in Major League Baseball are hitting home runs at pace that would exceed the 2000 season, which was two years after the Mark McGwireSammy Sosa steroid-laced farce. This subject is one of the highlights of episode #46 of the podcast hosted by Gene Gumbs.

The biggest question raised in the article is why this is happening. Major League Baseball has very stringent PED testing now, so, in theory, the number of home runs being hit this year shouldn’t be steroid tainted. We’ve already seen a number of MLB and minor league players suspended this year, so the system appears to be working.

I don’t, in fact, believe steroids has anything to do with it. I think it has is mostly due to inferior pitching. Yes, a lot more guys are throwing in the upper 90s and hitting triple digits, but as the old saying goes, “The faster they come, the farther they go out.”

I also believe it is the lack of control that hurlers have that has led to the number of home runs. For the most part, gone are the days when guys like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine painted corners and used guile to get guys out. Most pitchers these days don’t have that kind of control, and the changes to the strike zone has also made it more difficult for those who can.

Baseball Insider even said that MLB has tested the ball and is comfortable that the ball isn’t juiced.

I know this, baseball today has become an all-or-nothing kind of game for hitters. They hit home runs or they strike out. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but the number of guys who strike out 150+ times in a season has risen, along with the home runs.

It used to be a badge of shame to strike out a lot; now, no one blinks an eye. Ted Williams never struck out more than 64 times in his career (and that was in his rookie year!). Babe Ruth never struck out 100 times in a season. Joe Dimaggio? His highest number of Ks in a season was 39, also in his rookie year. To bring it a little closer to modern times, how about Wade Boggs? 68 in 1990, the same year he walked 87 times!

So, yes, we are seeing more home runs, but we are also seeing a lot more guys who don’t have the first idea what it means to be a complete hitter.

Also in this Episode:

  • If the Yankees want to compete next year, they need to blow it up.
  • Wonderful tributes to Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn.
  • The Red Sox get a jump on the trade deadline.
  • My pick for team of the week

I thank you for listening! If you have any questions or suggestions for a future episode, leave me a note here or send me an email at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net.

Muhammad Ali Passing Leaves a Void

Ceremony for the Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (White House photo by Paul Morse - http://web.archive.org/web/20051111035506/http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/images/20051109-2_p110905pm-0250jpg-515h.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11444534)

Ceremony for the Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (White House photo by Paul Morse – http://web.archive.org/web/20051111035506/http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/images/20051109-2_p110905pm-0250jpg-515h.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11444534)

The death of Muhammad Ali yesterday at the age of 74 leaves a void not only in the world of sports but in the world of humanity. In episode 45 of the Sports Microscope podcast, Gene Gumbs talks a little about what Ali meant to him.

Not only was Muhammad Ali arguably the greatest boxer of all-time, he also transcended sports in a way that very few ever have. He was vilified by many for his stand on the draft and Vietnam War. He paid for that, both in a fine and by having his right to earn a living taken away. Others praised him for his stance and standing firm to his beliefs.

It’s ironic that shortly after he made the decision to refuse to be drafted that public sentiment against the war turned, to the point that by 1971 the Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction.

Ali’s popularity around the world is hard to quantify. The only parallel I can draw is that he was to the world what Babe Ruth was in America in the 1930s – almost universally loved. What makes Muhammad Ali even more amazing is that his popularity never declined, not even after he retired and Parkinson’s took away his ability to talk.

I will never forget the sight of him holding the torch at the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. It was both awe-inspiring and sad at the same time. It was sad to see how the disease had destroyed this once powerful man, but it was incredible just the same to hear the love pour out around him for this beloved figure.

Ali gave away a fortune to charities over the years. He was a man of principle and someone who loved his fellow man. He especially loved helping underprivileged and sick children.

I often wonder what he would say about how radical elements have perverted Islam. Could he have been a voice that would have given real Muslims the courage to stand up to those that would create violence in their name? Sadly, we’ll never know.

Also in this Episode:

  • Marlon Byrd continues to show how dumb some baseball players are
  • Is David Wright‘s career over?
  • Where can the Red Sox find pitching help?
  • Ben Zobrist might be the best free agent signing of 2016.
  • My pick for team of the week

I thank you for listening! If you have any questions or suggestions for a future episode, leave me a note here or send me an email at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net.

 

The Minnesota Twins Are A Mess

Miguel Sano has been a pleasant surprise in Minnesota this season. (Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Miguel Sano is having trouble repeating his performance from a year ago. (Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The Minnesota Twins are off to a dreadful start, and that’s despite being well stocked with young talent. In episode 44 of the podcast, I spend some time wondering who needs to be held accountable for the sorry state of the franchise. Is it Terry Ryan and is questionable trades/signings and tendency to rush young players to the Majors, or is it Paul Molitor?

Look, I know Molitor is close to a God to Minnesota Twins fans, so I’ll probably be skewered for even suggesting that. However, Ron Gardenhire always seemed to be able to bring along young players, and he always managed to find a way to keep the team competitive. I am not saying Molitor can’t, but he hasn’t shown that ability yet.

Ryan is another story. I could spend all day questioning many of the moves he made. In fact, in the podcast I do! This the guy who signed pitchers like Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, and Mike Pelfrey. This is the guy who rushed Aaron Hicks to the Majors from AA, skipping AAA entirely. Hicks, a great defender, wound up hitting .192, .212, and .256 in three seasons, and Ryan traded him to the NY Yankees for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy (who started the year 3-40 and got sent down). He also rushed Eddie Rosario after less than 100 AAA at bats.

He is also the guy who traded away guys like Denard Span and Ben Revere for pitchers Alex Meyer and Trevor May. Meyer has be so-so at best in the minors, and was lit up like a Christmas tree in Minnesota. May, who they thought was going to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, was a bust starting games. He may wind up a decent reliever, so I’ll give Ryan a pass on that one.

I also question the decision to have Miguel Sano, who is normally a third baseman, play right field this year. With no chance to learn the position in winter ball or the minors, you thrust a great hitter into an unfamiliar role at the Major League level.

Sano is hitting .234 with three homers and 12 RBI in 111 ABs. This from a guy who had 18 homers, 52 RBI, and a .270 batting average in 279 ABs last season. I have to believe his focus on learning the position has carried over to his offense. I know they have Trevor Plouffe at third, but he is far from the second coming of Brooks Robinson. I’d rather keep my potential stud in Sano happy and comfortable and look to use Plouffe as a chip to get some pitching,

I don’t know who the eventual hammer will fall on, but at some point the Minnesota Twins ownership will have to do something before the fan base revolts.

Also in This Episode:

  • The unsubstantiated whispering about PED use of successful players needs to stop.
  • Speaking of stop, the Angels are not going to trade Mike Trout.
  • The Bartolo Colon homer last week was priceless.
  • Steven Wright is the Red Sox rotation savior.
  • Is Dustin Pedroia the Red Sox next pitching coach?
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think. See you next week!

Jake Arrieta – One the O’s Let Get Away

Jake Arrieta

(Photo By Mateocubs – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47452415)

In episode 43 of the Sports Microscope podcast, host Gene Gumbs points out that Jake Arrieta isn’t the only quality pitcher that Baltimore Oriole GM Dan Duquette let get away. Roger Clemens anyone?

In 1996, Duquette declared that Clemens was in the “twilight of his career.” All Clemens did was go on to win four more Cy Young awards with teams not located in Boston. Jake Arrieta is on his way to doing the same thing with a team not located in Baltimore. I’m not saying there’s a correlation… but maybe I am.

I am sure Duquette gets a little queasy every time he reads the incredible numbers Arrieta has put up since last June – numbers that not even the great Bob Gibson could match. I won’t bore you with all of them here, but I urge you to read the piece by Carrie Muskat on MLB.com.

Suffice it to say that we are looking at one of the greatest runs in the history of baseball – and that’s saying something!

Also in This Episode:

  • Anyone else tired of athletes saying they don’t know how PEDs got into their system?
  • Yasiel Puig makes on of the greatest throws I have ever seen
  • Curt Schilling has the right to speak his mind. ESPN has the right to fire him.
  • Vin Scully skewers people comparing Joe Dimaggio and Ryan Howard
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think. See you next week!

 

Podcast #42 – Chris Archer Dazzles on Opening Day

Chris Archer

(Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

I want to say right up front that Chris Archer rubs me the wrong way, but there is no denying the talent that the 27-year-old possesses. He exhibited electric stuff on Sunday, striking out 12 in just five innings of work. In fact, if not for some opening-inning jitters, which saw him throw 31 pitches, he might have gone deeper and given his team a chance to win.

What impressed me the most was that he came back out for the fifth inning trailing 3-1 and having already thrown 93 pitches. He came out for the fifth and struck out Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, and Chris Colabello on 14 pitches. Hell, I half expected him to come out for the fifth.

So why does Chris Archer bug me? I think he shows far too much cockiness for someone who has barely three years in the bigs. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was thi spring when he berated a Rays rookie for showing up “only” 30 minutes early for a meeting? How about he just worries about himself instead of trying to be a big man on campus?

I honestly think he has the ability to be a Cy Young Award winner one day. His fastball has a lot of late movement and his slider looks near impossible to hit at times. The only thing standing in his way is him. He needs to focus on his game and not worry about his desire to be a team leader, or team “spokesman” when he decides to tell veteran players how they should play the game. (Ask a few of the Red Sox vets about that – and I’ll bet they are one in a long line.)

But I love to watch him pitch.

Also in this Episode:

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

No Winners in White Sox Fiasco

Adam LaRoche Chicago White Sox

Adam LaRoche (photo by By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Adam LaRoche”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

When the whole mess with Adam LaRoche and the Chicago White Sox started last week, I only felt bad for one person – LaRoche’s son, Drake. That 14-year-old kid has had a hell of a lot put on him simply because his father wanted to teach the White Sox a “lesson” and walk away from the game on principle.

So before we nominate LaRoche for Father of the Year, think about that. Let’s also remember that, while $13 million is a lot of money, LaRoche is also a multimillionaire. It’s not like you and me walking away from a $50,000 job and having to worry about not being able to feed our families. It’s far from that.

And what about the young man going to school? I know LaRoche once gave an interview where he said “We’re not big on school,” but wouldn’t the Father of the Year make sure his kid was prepared for his future?

Look, I get it’s cool for a boy to be able to hang out with pro baseball players. Kids love that stuff. I worked in Division I college athletics for years. I sometimes took my kids to games or on road trips, but I never took them into a locker room. That is not where they belong.

The White Sox and LaRoche could have reached some middle ground. The White Sox totally mishandled the situation and LaRoche overreacted, in my opinion.

Perhaps LaRoche saw the end of his career was near and this was an easy way out. I don’t know. All I know is that Drake LaRoche has to take on part of a burden he didn’t ask for and doesn’t deserve.

In Podcast #41, host Gene Gumbs talks about that and a number of other things happening in Major League Baseball spring training camps.

Also in this Episode:

  • Jim Kaat presented an interesting idea on how to make MLB less “tired”
  • The injuries in LA continue to mount with Andre Ethier now out 3-4 months
  • Travis Shaw is making things difficult in Red Sox camp
  • A look at the NCAA Tournament
  • Steve Pikiell lands men’s basketball job at Rutgers after reach NCAAs with Stony Brook
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

Bryce Harper Has a Point

"BryceHarper2015SD002" by Johnmaxmena2 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg#/media/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg

“Bryce Harper2015SD002” by Johnmaxmena2 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg#/media/File:BryceHarper2015SD002.jpg

Despite the fact that I’m a traditionalist, I have to admit that Bryce Harper has a point when it comes to his assertion that baseball needs to inject a little more personality into the game. This week’s edition of the Sports Microscope podcast talks about that, and the rather unhinged comments by Hall of Famer Rich Gossage.

There is little doubt that the average age of the baseball fan keeps going up. There can also be no arguing that Major League Baseball needs to find a way to attract young fans and get kids excited about actually playing baseball. Players loosening up some of those unwritten rules about bat flips, etc. might be a good start.

Don’t get me wrong, some unwritten rules are good and necessary. Up eight runs and still trying to steal bases? The middle infielders covering second need to police that, or the pitcher needs to make the next batter wear a baseball. Not showing up the opponent should be the primary unwritten rule. Does flipping a bat, yelling after striking out an opponent, or strutting a bit after hitting a homer constitute showing up the opponent? I don’t think so. That kind of thing has been going on for years. Hell, wouldn’t Kirk Gibson‘s arm pumps after hitting the game-winning homer off Dennis Eckersley in 1988 be considered showboating?

There’s no easy answer here. Someone is always going to take offense at some perceived slight. David Price had perhaps the best solution – how about the shoes? Why not let player express their personality through their footwear? Why shouldn’t MLB change their policy that cleats have to be 51 percent of the team’s primary color? I like Price’s idea a lot and it brings the sport a little closer to what Bryce Harper suggests.

Also in this Episode:

  • Could Jered Weaver be at the end of the line?
  • Travis Shaw is hitting the heck out of the ball in spring training. What do the Red Sox do?
  • Jenrry Mejia must all think we are as dumb as he is
  • The mess in Baltimore continues as they sign human statue Pedro Alavarez
  • Brock Osweiler parlays seven career starts into 18 million a year
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

 

NL West Title Path Now Easier for Giants

Brett Anderson's injury will make it tougher for the Dodgers to win the NL West.  (photo by Arturo Pardavila III [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Brett Anderson’s injury will make it tougher for the Dodgers to win the NL West. (photo by Arturo Pardavila III [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

In episode 39 of the Sports Microscope Podcast, host Gene Gumbs discusses why the path to the NL West crown just got a little easier for the San Francisco Giants. With the announcement that Brett Anderson is out for 3-5 months, and the continued injury issues for Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) and Brandon McCarthy (elbow), the Dodger rotation becomes a little thinner behind ace Clayton Kershaw.

To have a shot at the NL West, the Dodgers have to hope they are getting the Scott Kazmir that pitched in Oakland last year, not the one that pitched to a four ERA and 1.4 WHIP in Houston. They’ll also need rookie Kenta Maeda to live up to the hype he created in the Japanese League. Of course he signed an eight-year contract, so they must really believe in him. They also have Alex Wood, who is serviceable but allows way too many men to get on base.

I am sure the Giants aren’t shedding any tears, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are probably licking their chops, thinking that this might be the thing they need to stay relevant and remain in the NL West race all season. I’ll match their top three of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin against the top three the Dodgers have right now.

Also in this NL West Themed Episode:

  • Injuries already becoming a factor for season’s start
  • Enough of the Yoenis Cespedes three-ring circus already!
  • Could the Minnesota Twins be the Astros of 2016?
  • Doc Emrick makes cool appearance in Pirate radio booth
  • Anyone else wonder how Ian Desmond is getting along with his agent?
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

 

Spring Training Press Conferences Entertaining

Grapefruit league logoIt’s snowing here in New England, but it’s spring in my mind. Baseball spring training has begun! In podcast #38, host Gene Gumbs bounces around the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues to talk about some of the happenings.and comments made in the pre-season player press conferences, which are always entertaining.

Leading the list is Washington’s Bryce Harper, who has already floated the idea of a $400 million contract when he becomes a free agent in a few years. In this age of Monopoly money, is anyone surprised? And considering what the top pitchers are getting now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Harper gets 40 mil for 10 years when he becomes a free agent in 2019.

Anyone want to start a pool on how fast the Red Sox start offering Pablo Sandoval to anyone who will take him in exchange for a bag of balls? The Jenny Craig soap opera began right at the start of spring training. After manager John Farrell and others said that they expected Sandoval to show up slimmed down and ready to go, Sandoval appeared looking just like the Michelin Man again, saying that no one in the organization ever asked him to lose weight. First off, I call BS. Second, even if they didn’t, should they have to?

In the same vain, how long do you think it will be before Dan Duquette gets fired in Baltimore. He was a horrible GM in Boston, and proving to be the same in Baltimore. This is the guy who said Roger Clemens was washed up. The same Clemens who went out and won four more Cy Youngs elsewhere. He’s completely botched this off season, leaving the O’s to take the bottom of the barrel of the remaining free agents. Buck Showalter can only overcome so much.

Also in this Spring Training Episode:

I appreciate you listening and following me every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!