We knew this already. We knew baseball players were a bunch of babies, because if you think about how they behave, there’s no other sport even close to having the level of pissbaby-dom that baseball does. Hell, let’s just go back a few days to that adorable Joey Votto story with that cute little girl who came to see him play in San Diego because he’s her favorite player. While it ended with heartwarming photos and videos, let’s not forget where it started. Votto lost his shit over a check-swing call. His first at-bat in one game of 162. It’s barely a ripple in the pond of a baseball season. Is it really worth losing your shit over? To that degree?
But players do. And it’s hardly just Votto. We watch players and managers go apeshit over the smallest things every week. A strike call here, a missed safe call there. Umpires miss calls every game, but is one call in one game of 162 of them worth throwing bases or kicking dirt over? It’s the longest season by far. These calls will barely register when all is said and done. Try and remember any other player or coach losing their shit like you’ve seen baseball players and coaches do hundreds of times in another sport. You don’t even in football, where a bad call could absolutely pivot an entire 16-soon-to-be-17-game season. Ever see Pete Carroll pick up a first down marker and chuck it as a line-judge? Maybe if that line-judge told him that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job, but other than that… (and yeah there’s Bobby Knight’s chair throw, but how long ago was that?)
Max Scherzer and Sergio Romo will be memes for weeks now, if not months. They were the biggest examples so far of baseball’s new crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances. But it only started going that way because Scherzer’s opposing manager, Joe Girardi — always eager to prove to the world he is the genius he thinks he is — knew that he could get inside Max’s head. Scherzer is one of those players who makes it very clear, every start, just how intense he is and how much every pitch means to him and good god won’t you see how hard he’s working and how intense he is?! Can’t you feel it just pulsating through your screen?! OH MY GOD IT MEANS SO MUCH.
Is Girardi an asshole? Absolutely. And with the random checks umpires are going to be doing now, managers really shouldn’t be allowed to request further examinations. Then it’s going to get cartoonish, if it hasn’t already. It’s yet another small detail MLB missed. Add it to the massive pile.
But if Scherzer is really pissed, and thinks this is a travesty, then maybe he should take it up with all the other pitchers in the league who have made this necessary. Pitchers can bleat about the “gentlemen’s agreement’’ they had about needing a modicum of some substance to maintain control so as not to injure hitters with wayward pitches, but too many of them took it and ran. Is it any different than the Astros? There is a tacit agreement that if you’re not paying attention, a runner on second would pick up your signs to the pitchers. The Astros took it to several new levels. And all the players were pissed about that.
Oh, and Scherzer walked three in five innings, the second-highest total in a game this season for him. But he’s walked two twice, as well. Might have been just an off night. And though one pitch missed Alec Bohm by inches, he didn’t hit anybody. But Scherzer has brushed hitters every game, too.
MLB hasn’t handled this well at all. They never do. But it’s not being helped by baseball players’ inability to shut up and not look like a bunch of whiners.
In an uplifting story, according to the jersey manufacturer Fanatics, the top-selling jersey yesterday was Carl Nassib’s. It’s only one day, and we’ll see if it keeps up. But these kinds of things remind us that there is just as much support, if not tons more, for stories like Nassib’s, than there is derision from those who want to shout them down. Those against will yell louder, and their volume is almost intolerable. We often mistake volume as amount. They’re not the same thing.
Perhaps we need to find a way to yell louder to change that perception. But it’s always harder to yell louder when you have the assurance that you’re right and the world is bending toward you, even if frustratingly slowly.