Kudos to MLB on catcher collision rule

MLB came up with a new catcher collision rule for the 2014, and it’s high time and job well done all at the same time. The new rule provides that base runners must stay on the base path towards home plate and may not veer off course to initiate contact with the catcher at the cost of an out. Also, catchers may not block the plate without possession of the ball, also an out.

The umpires will be able to use instant replay to determine if either aspect of the rule was broken on bang-bang plays. All teams at all levels in MLB will immediately have to start drilling catchers and base runners on how best to deal with the new rules.

The previous rules governing home plate collisions were archaic and unnecessarily gladiatorial. Too many players have already suffered concussions or worse in needlessly violent home plate collisions. It’s high time MLB took this step to protect the health of its’ ball players. CTE is real and it’s no joke.

Thanks for reading – I tweet and you can follow me @MosesGreen33

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Fandom and Free Agency

I’m not sure who said it first, but the phrase “essentially, we root for laundry” was brought to my attention by Jerry Seinfeld.  I’m pretty sure I heard it on WFAN before that, but can’t source it any better than that.  In modern sports leagues, rosters are always in flux.  It wasn’t always that way, there was more stability in lineups before free agency existed.  Fans liked it that way.

It takes some getting used to, for anyone who was around back before the big changes, but most of us have gotten there.  We root for our teams and when our favorite players go forth to new challenges we root for them to do well – just not against our favorite teams.  There are very few players who wear just one jersey in modern professional sports.  Kobe Bryant looks like he’s going to do it.  Tom Brady will probably never move on from New England until he retires.  Paul Konerko is about to hang them up on the south side of Chicago.  Derek Jeter just announced his retirement on Facebook and will surely retire a Yankee, not that anyone ever doubted that.  Dustin Pedroia should be on the Red Sox for his entire career.  The merest thought of Pedey on another team brings back nightmarish visions of Kevin Dineen skating for the Philadelphia Flyers.  Just so wrong.

One guy who I thought would be on this list moved on from the Boston Celtics this offseason, Paul Pierce.  As a Celtics fan, Pierce was my second favorite Celtic after Larry Bird, and that’s saying something.  He’s the only other Celtic whose jersey I’ve purchased.  In my mind he will always be a “True Celtic” in the Auerbachian sense.

He followed in the grand Celtic tradition of seemingly being stolen right out from under the league’s nose.  The Celtics could hardly believe their good fortune in the 1998 draft when Pierce slipped to the 10th pick.  Some of the guys chosen ahead of him included the immortal Michael Olowakandi (just typing that makes me want to hum a few bars of “Candy Man” – and typing <i>that</i> makes me want to hum “Candy Girl” – but I digress;) Mike Bibby, and Raef LaFrentz.  That’s a fun 1-2-3 to look back on with the benefit of hindsight, since Pierce went 10th and Dirk Nowitzki went 9th.

Kevin Garnett was also a part of the big Celtics-Nets trade this offseason, and his legacy is more complicated.  He helped bring Boston another championship though, so that’s what most Celtics’ fans will tend to focus their memories on, and rightfully so.  He was more of a hired gun so I won’t really think too much about his future NBA endeavors.

It’s more difficult to accept the sight of Paul Pierce wearing a Brooklyn Nets jersey.  It’s still better than a New Jersey jersey, but jarring nonetheless.  He and Garnett have looked a shadow of their former selves.  And this is where it gets tricky for Celtics fans, because the Nets gave the C’s a boat load of draft picks for our aging stars.  And those picks increase in value the worse the Nets perform.

I just can’t bring myself to root against Pierce or Garnett.  But those picks are looking awfully tasty the further we get into the season.  The best I can do right now is root for my guys to get traded to contending teams down the stretch.  That way everybody wins.

All of which is to say that modern fandom presents some pretty strange situations, and this is one that I certainly wish had never come to pass.

I tweet and you can follow me @MosesGreen33

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Alex Rodriguez & the extremes of vilification

Let me preface this by saying I am not an Alex Rodriguez fan – don’t root for any of the teams he’s played for.  Don’t care for his public persona, don’t like the PED use.

But at the same time I’m weary of the constant buffeting he takes from all sides.  The amount and volume of his vilification doesn’t seem to fit the crime.  By and large, Yankees fans can’t stand him.  One thing you hear from them all the time is that he doesn’t deliver in the clutch.  None of them can remember him hitting a home-run with a single baserunner on.  Trust me, it’s happened.  He doesn’t have 654 solo hr’s.  His clutch numbers are about the same as his overall numbers, which is to say very, very good.  Furthermore, there’s no such thing as a “clutch” hitter.  There are only hitters who can maintain their level of performance under pressure and hitters who can’t.  Trust me on this.  Or just google “clutch hitting fallacy” and get back to me.

Major League Baseball and the mainstream sports media despise him.  Bud Selig is seeking to levy an unprecedented PED suspension against him in total disregard of rules of his own league.  As I write, Rodriguez and MLB await an arbitrator’s ruling on the 211-game suspension handed down by Commissioner Selig.  You can rest assured that A-Rod will be denied entry to the Hall of Fame when his day comes around, stats be damned.

The worst I can say about him is that he cheated, and his public apology seemed dishonest and self-serving.  But he’s hardly alone in this.  MLB is full of guys who have cheated and given horrible apologies – mea culpas that were clearly written by a P.R. flack for a player-agent.  Or cheated and never got caught.  There’s also the fact that he seems to have a significant amount of situationally-induced narcissism.  But on the whole he mostly seems like an insecure guy.  For someone so talented to be so constantly unsure of himself is sad, it’s almost endearing in a way.

His robotic answers to media questions are another reason that fans have a hard time connecting with him.  We want Sean Casey, Charles Barkley.  You have to have thick skin to speak your mind to the mainstream media, because there’s always going to be a backlash for any opinion more controversial than what kind of breakfast cereal one favors.  Rodriguez has demonstrated time and again that he’s thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.  His unending string of platitudes and team-speak are fueled by a long history of stings from long ago, ever so briefly stating a few of his actual, unvarnished opinions.

The exact moment that A-Rod ruined his chances with Yankees fans was during his infamous Esquire interview in April, 2001.  The one where he ripped his friend Jeter, seemingly out of the blue.  At best it was a clumsy attempt to contrast Jeter’s role on a loaded team with his own burden of leadership for a less talented squad in Texas.  Of course it came off a lot worse.  The backlash from this continues to this day and also continues to inform his attitude towards speaking his mind.

From now on it’s going to be a non-stop diet of “we have to play like our hair’s on fire” and other such inane stuff.  That’s probably for the best.  It’s not going to endear him to anyone but it’s also not going to stir things up.  For A-Rod, that’s going to have to be enough.

He’s never been arrested that I’m aware of.  He’s never harmed anyone with anything but his mouth as far as I know.  He’s been so consistently and vehemently attacked for relatively mundane failings that I actually feel sympathy for him.  If someone had told me five years ago that this would come to pass, I would have told them they were out of their mind.

I tweet and you can follow me @MosesGreen33

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