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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Speaking about Jackie Robinson

On Tuesday, baseball once again celebrated Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier at the Major League level in each ballpark.  Players around the league all wore the number 42 on their uniforms to honor Robinson.  And while I often have written that I think mandating that each player wear the number doesn’t really have the meaning that it should, my tune is starting to change.

Some of that is following players on twitter- and seeing how they individually spoke about Robinson, in their own words, and on their own time.  That shows me the personal feelings that exist all around baseball.  Tweets are just sound bites.  But they aren’t edited, and they aren’t obligatory quotes from the player in front of his locker.  They are real.

This piece by Jordan Bastian also asks two players to speak more in depth about what Jackie Robinson means to them.  Mike Aviles speaks so well of what Robinson’s legacy, you wonder why other writers find the need to get quotes from as many players as possible- find one or two and let them do the talking.  Perhaps those writers can’t find a Mike Aviles.  Michael Bourn’s reverence also comes through in the piece.  Even though he seems to have only the recent movie 42 to guide him to the historical facts, he is really honest when he says the trials that Robinson experience would have “broken” him.  That’s real.   And when you hear a player speak with that kind of honesty, it makes the entire celebration much more significant, at least for me.

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
It’s Not Replay that S*cks….

It isn’t the replay that is ruining baseball, it is the adaptation of the rules to make replay clearer for someone not in the stadium that may ruin it.  Because the umpires in the booth in NY can’t hear the ball hit the mitt, as an umpire in the building can, baseball cleaned up its definitions of a catch.  This came into play with John Farrell and the Red Sox over the weekend.  And Tony LaRussa, one of the designers of the system,  tried to explain in this piece by Jayson Stark why Farrell was confused over the ruling.  There is a discrepancy over the way a catch used to be called, and how it now is.

But this isn’t the only way that the definition of “a catch” has changed. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs writes about how to clarify what a catch is, the ball has be transferred cleanly to the throwing hand. Cameron shows great video of examples, including one where an outfielder clearly catches the ball, has control of the ball as he takes several steps but loses the ball once he tries to transfer it to throw it in.  That is ruled to NOT be a catch.  For us who have watched baseball for 40 or more years, that seems ridiculous.  And that, in my opinion is what will ruin baseball.

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Sunday Reading
by Johanna Wagner
Building a Team Edition

Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales are still sitting at home watching games on TV instead of actually playing for a team. That is despite the fact that they were good enough last year to receive qualifying offers of $15 million + to play for the team they played for last year. Doesn’t that seem crazy? Well it is. Jayson Stark get into the details of why they are still home and how the system that was set-up to reduce the uncertainty that came with free agency for teams really is broken. Stark’s piece also examines the case of the 2013 “victim” of the system- Kyle Lohse, who signed with the Brewers the week before spring ended last year. Lohse has given it some thought, and is able to make his case as to why the system doesn’t make much sense from a players point of view. It also doesn’t make much sense from a team’s point of view, as in the case of the Pirates- who really wanted to keep AJ Burnett, but couldn’t risk him accepting a qualifying offer and upsetting their payroll. Lots of questions, and not many answers. If you read the piece and are still confused- leave a comment here and I will try to iron it all out.

From free agency, then it only makes sense to look at the farm system, and the Cubs have a good one these days. But, is their farm system deep or does it just have a couple of stars? That is the question that only time will tell. Gordon Wittenmyer writes about how the Cubs system needs depth if it is ever going to compete with the Cardinals- who manage to get some quality in the later rounds of the draft each year. As Dallas Green points out in the piece, anyone can find a first round draft pick- you and I can do that by reading Baseball America or other such publications. It is picking the later rounds, and finding players that will be able to develop into Major League utility players, fourth outfielders or against all odds every day players that is the difference between a good team and a great team. It is the difference between a team having one quality year and having a 5-8 year run at the playoffs. Do the Cubs have a chance?

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Changing the Game for the Good

The Boston Red Sox didn’t complain publicly when Jhonny Peralta went to bat against them, and scored the only run of the first game of the ALCS. They could have, as apparently they were outraged. They kept quiet, and they focused on their job and they won the World Series.

But afterwards, they set about changing things. They went to their union, and they made their case- that a person suspended for using steroids should not be allowed to play in the post-season no matter what the season that they were suspended. The Union went to MLB, and with no reason why MLB would object, they got the rule changed. Tougher penalties are in place.

Were the Red Sox the only players upset? Probably not. Were they the ones in the best position to complain, yes. Since they won, they couldn’t be accused of being sore losers. They won as cleanly, as far as any of us know today.

A players first instinct is to speak out in the media about some injustice. Rarely does that serve him well. Just as a manager is careful to never throw a player under the bus, until all other measures for reaching the player have been taken, a player has to really understand that the same holds true. Even months after the fact, the Red Sox talking about this today strikes me as being a little self-serving. It seems like a personal attack on Peralta to some degree- when it should seem like an attack on the old system. Did we need to know that some of the Red Sox players felt this way? Maybe, but Maybe not. It is nice to know that the players have a voice, that the union is making changes on the basis of their constituency, and not just making nice with the League. It also makes the Red Sox as a whole look pretty good, as being tough on crime, so to speak. But did we really need to know? Your thoughts?

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Johanna's View
by Johanna Wagner
Colon to Farnsworth to Valverde

What is this 2005?  The Mets threw three pitchers against the Braves on Tuesday, three old pitchers I might add, and came away with the win.  It was a little scary for Mets fans in the 9th though.  Valverde loaded the bases, but ended up locking it down in the end.

His message to the media after the game when asked what happened in the 9th?

Bartolo Colon threw innings, Kyle Farnsworth threw one, I threw the ninth. Game over,” he added, with a hint of sarcasm.  -from Metsblog

If it had been stress free that would be the answer, and since he got the save that is the answer.  The box score certainly tells you that Valverde gave up two hits, and threw 25 pitches.  But he also got the save.  Does he need to say more than that?

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