Jul 31, 2013, 6:31 PM EDT
This fascinating interview of Tino Martinez by Kenny Rosenthal reminds me again that I planned years ago to write a book called “Moneyball.” Obviously it was going to be nothing at all like Michael Lewis’ classic. The idea was to write about the late 1990s Kansas City Royals and their, um, rather awkward efforts to win.
The name Moneyball in my title came from a game that George Brett introduced at training camp one year. Players would take batting practice with no fielders. Then, at the end of the session, players would run to the outfield and collect the baseballs. One of the baseballs were specially marked by Brett — and whoever found it would get 100 bucks of Brett’s money.
It was awesome and hilarious to watch those players race to the outfield to find the Moneyball — more so because there in the group, running as hard as anyone, was George Brett himself. “I’m going pay myself!” he yelled as he ran to the outfield.
Of the many traditions and quirks of baseball, I think my favorite is that baseball players — no matter how good or unknown or famous they might be — collect and return baseballs after batting practice. I love this tradition beyond words. I don’t mind baseball players getting hundreds of millions of dollars, not at all. They are fantastic athletes who play more games than anybody in any other sport, and they provide wonderful entertainment — they should get as much as anyone is willing to pay them. I also understand the money will change athletes like it changes everyone and baseball will never be quite as intimate as it used to be.
But I hope that they always pick up their own baseballs. It’s a small thing, I know — we’re not exactly talking about the days when baseball players had to get winter jobs. But it represents something to me. Every time a coach shouts out, “OK, get ‘em up,” and you see Barry Bonds or Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones or Dustin Pedroia or Miguel Cabrera go pick up baseballs and put them back into the bucket, I feel great. It is something that ties them to the game’s history. It is something that says, “No matter what I get paid, I’m a ballplayer — and while I might have yachts and sports cars and five homes, like all the little kids playing, I have to pick up my own baseballs.”
I don’t know if the Tino Martinez saga really comes down to a couple of Marlins players refusing to pick up baseballs like he says now. As you know, Martinez resigned under pressure as Marlins hitting coach because players said he had been verbally and physically abusive. This was surprising because Martinez had a reputation as a pretty decent guy as a player. So Martinez fought back with this Ken Rosenthal interview, and this is where he talked about guys refusing to pick up baseballs. I don’t know if that’s the story.
But it’s all complicated. This question of where the line between severe demanding coaching and abuse continues to baffle America — it wasn’t so long ago that Martinez would have been fired for NOT being verbally (if not physically) abusive for a Marlins team dead last in runs, hits, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
In fact, in reliving the Martinez story, my friend Chardon Jimmy remembered a football coach who yelled at him: “If you ever do that again, I will reach down your throat and pull out your heart.” And I remembered a little league coach who would throw baseballs (somewhat lightly) at me in order to teach me to not bail out as a hitter. Both of us sort of laughed about it. I’m pretty sure both qualify as abuse, at least by today’s standards.
And I don’t really know what Martinez did or did not do, how far he went, whether he really grabbed a players throat or his jersey, whether that matters, how over-the-line his comments were. Heck, it’s harder all the time to know where the line is drawn. But what Martinez said about two players refusing to pick up baseballs struck a chord with me. I don’t want a generation of players who think they’re too important to pick up baseballs. I realize that’s a silly and probably dumb thing to worry about. But I worry about it anyway.
Jul 10, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
Signed to a four-year, $32 million contract this offseason that draw quite a bit of criticism, Vargas has a career-best 3.31 ERA and was on pace for a career-high 225 innings after throwing just 150 innings for the Angels last year.
Jul 10, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT
I can see not trading him given the small return he might bring. But re-signing him?
Jul 10, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Jered Weaver left Wednesday’s start against the Blue Jays with lower back tightness and there was some speculation that the Angels would give the right-hander a little extra time off before the All-Star break, but manager Mike Scioscia announced that Weaver will start Saturday versus the Rangers.
Jul 10, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
Yes, it’s Jeter day at HBT, apparently.
Jul 10, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Before you look, guess which year it was. I am somewhat embarrassed to have been a couple of years off.
Jul 10, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Cliff Lee’s first minor-league rehab start was cut short by bad weather, but the Phillies left-hander took the mound at Single-A for the second time last night and tossed four innings as planned.
Jul 10, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT
The Cardinals’ most important position player may miss some time.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT
Papelbon likes Philly just fine. But he thinks anyone who wouldn’t want to play for a winner is nuts.
Jul 10, 2014, 8:10 AM EDT
Death. Taxes. The Red Sox throwing a guy under the bus as he leaves the team.
Jul 10, 2014, 7:09 AM EDT
A handful of injuries went down last night, but so too did strict adherence to the Restoring Pitching Act of 2013.
Jul 9, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is 3-for-6 with a double, a homer, and three RBI through two games on his minor league rehab assignment with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox and is on track to be activated from the disabled list this Friday according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
Jul 9, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
The Reds are one of the hottest teams in baseball and beat the Cubs on Wednesday night by a score of 4-1, but there won’t be much of a celebratory mood in the clubhouse afterward …
Jul 9, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hinted to Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post last week that he would like to be traded to a contender. But it doesn’t sound like the Rockies front office will grant him that wish this summer.
Jul 9, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
Some rough news here for the slumping Blue Jays. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports Adam Lind has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his right foot and is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks.
Jul 9, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
They say humans can’t fly. Jackie Bradley Jr. begs to differ …
Jul 9, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been named to the American League All-Star roster in place of Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow injury.
Jul 9, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT
Watch as Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt sent his team to a Wednesday afternoon walkoff defeat of the visiting Marlins with this two-run double to left-center field …
Jul 9, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT
As first relayed by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, left fielder Brett Gardner is out of the Yankees’ starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Indians due to a lower abdominal strain. Gardner first thought it was a groin strain, but that more-severe injury has already been ruled out by a team physician.
Jul 9, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
Yankees designated hitter Carlos Beltran has been scratched from tonight’s lineup against the Indians after a ball he hit during batting practice bounced up and struck him near the eye.
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 42
- The Rockies “aren’t looking around very hard” for a trade of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki 21
- Jury finds the Dodgers partially negligent, awards $18 million to Bryan Stow 45
- Masahiro Tanaka injured: Yankees ace to undergo an MRI exam on his right arm 60
- David Ortiz is not pleased that his name got pulled into the John Lackey-Nelson Cruz thing 99
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 64
- Cardinals “looking for offense” … not Jake Peavy 33
- 2014 Home Run Derby participants … 28
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- Shocker: the Red Sox publicly criticize A.J. Pierzynski after cutting him (130)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (126)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (101)