Petty Baseball Rivalries Hurt the Game

Rivalries in baseball have existed as long as the game itself. You don’t need to look too far back to find examples of rivalries between players, teams, and even owners. My favorite involves legendary NY Giants manager John McGraw. Before becoming a manager, petty baseball rivalries McGraw was a hard-running hitter for the Baltimore Orioles. During a game in May 1894, McGraw slid into the Boston Beaneaters’ third baseman. McGraw’s slide touched off a fight between the two. The brawl intensified so much that by the next morning the ballpark, and 114 houses in the surrounding neighborhood had burned to the ground. Long story short, fans became so excited they didn’t pay attention to their dropped lit cigars. These rivalries are what make baseball so great. But today’s petty baseball rivalries are hurting the game because they’re based on personal insults instead of fierce competition.

Where Are the Genuine Rivalries?

Baseball rivalries aren’t what they used to be. The Brooklyn Dodgers had one with the New York Yankees, who beat them all but once in the World Series. Brooklyn had one with another National League team, the New York Giants. Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” set a standard for game-winning home runs. Johnny Podres’ brilliant performance in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series won Brooklyn its only title. The rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees needs no introduction. These fierce battles made the game fun to watch. But now they’ve turned into anger over flipped bats, unintentional slides, and other ridiculous incidents that exemplify pettiness instead of honest competition.

The rivalry between Carlton Fisk and Thurmond Munson is the stuff of legends. It all started during a 1973 game that would decide who’d move into first place. In the 9th, Munson broke for home on a suicide squeeze and crashed into Fisk. Munson tried to keep Fisk down so Felipe Alou could advance. Fisk overpowered Munson before both teams cleared the benches. When you look at the details of this brawl you don’t see anger over a flipped bat or a slide. You see two teams so destined to win at any cost that they revert to creative methods to overpower one another. It was their skill and strategy that made the rivalry so legendary. They reflect a tremendous amount of skill that goes towards its execution. Like The Roman Empire, greatness wasn’t built in a day. Petty baseball rivalries, however, are created in a short time.

Today’s Petty Baseball Rivalries Are Born Out of Bruised Egos

Last month the Orioles’ Manny Machado slide into second and spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedrioa. Footage of the play clearly shows that it wasn’t intentional, but that didn’t stop the Red Sox from retaliating. The Red Sox Matt Barnes threw at Macho’s head a few days later that led to his ejection. This petty baseball rivalry intensified two weeks later when Baltimore came to Boston. In a series marked by racial taunts, fights over nothing continued that distracted both teams from playing as well as they could have. The players on each team weren’t trying to win the game to secure first place. They were understandably coming to one another’s defense like teammates should, but it was still petty and childish. It wasn’t about winning to them, it was about being macho.

Impulsivity doesn’t involve planning. There’s no real strategy to it. Anyone can throw at a batter’s head and say it’s all about rivalry. But those who think the current rivalry between Boston and Baltimore is a real one should read up on their baseball history.

It’s Time The Red Sox Break Up With John Farrell

We’ve all seen that couple that stays together much longer than they should. They fight in front of others. They always look tired. They’re miserable even when they’re supposed to be having fun. Being in a dying relationship is like carrying cinder blocks in your hands all day long. It gets to a point where you just can’t take the weight and pain and wonder whyRed Sox Break you ever bothered. You’re drained, your friends are tired of hearing you complain, and pretty soon you feel alone and empty. So that’s why it’s time the Red Sox break up with John Farrell and fire him.

It’s clear it’s not working out anymore. Farrell and Drew Pomeranz argued with each other in the dugout when Farrell pulled him after four innings on May 20th. This also happened in 2015 when Farrell and Wade Miley got into it in the dugout. Disagreements are a part of baseball, but they’re best discussed behind closed doors—not in open dugouts. We’ve all seen our friends in a relationship fight with their SO at one point or another. It’s awkward for those standing nearby trying to pretend they don’t notice. They’re all thinking the same thing though: How much longer do we have to put up with this?

On a larger level, it makes the couple look like they can’t control their emotions. So when we see Farrell pointing a finger at Pomeanz I want to know why he can’t control himself. Why doesn’t he do what I used to do with my ex and say, “We’ll discuss this later”? It doesn’t always work (hence why I’m single), but it’s not something that Farrell can continue doing either. Open fighting like that is a sign of a bad relationship. It’ll only hurt him in the long run. too, when the Red Sox break up with him because no other teams will want to hire him. Who wants that kind of drama in their clubhouse?

The Red Sox look bored and passive nowadays. The Red Sox won the division last season, but it was a tough win for them. Ortiz’s final year was one of the few things that kept the season joyful and positive. But since Farrell’s wingman retired, the awkwardness between Farrell and the Red Sox has increased. Watching the team interact with Farrell is now like watching a high school girl ignore a guy who doesn’t get that she’s just not into him.

The Red Sox Break Up With Farrell Should Happen Sooner Than Later

Dumping someone is difficult. It’s more difficult if you’re on the receiving end. One minute you think things are okay, and the next you’re a refugee in Dumpsville. But it’s not like Dave Dombrowski can just text Farrell saying, “sry not feeling us nemore, hope we can still b friends.”

The Red Sox have to be up front and honest with Farrell. Take a page from the film Moneyball when Billy Beane taught his apprentice how to fire someone. Sit Farrell down, look him in the eye, and say “John, we’re letting you go. Thanks for your service and we wish you the best of luck.” It’s cold and direct, but it brings closure to an already difficult situation. But unlike in a real relationship, the Red Sox would have to replace Farrell right away. They don’t have time to play the field (pun intended).

A Red Sox break up with Farrell would not only bring a breath of fresh air to the clubhouse, but it would give the team a chance to try new strategies.

How Young Is Too Young To Consider a MLB Career?

Sunday morning I read about three high school pitchers in Texas who threw consecutive no-hitters last month. Casey Brownlow threw the first. Zach Hahn threw the second. Judson Hudson threw the third. For a high school team like the Grandview Zebras to record one no-hitter is impressive enough. But for three different pitchers to throw three consecutive no-no’s is unheard of. This kind of an accomplishment is sure to make these boys consider a MLB career. The problem is that while such an ambition is inspiring, its also extraordinary difficult to accomplish.

We’ve all read about teen prodigies who made it to the majors. Al Kaline was just 18 whenMLB Career he broke in with the Detroit Tigers in 1953. Mickey Mantle was 19 when he joined the Yankees. Carl Scheib was only 16 when he got his first strikeout for the Philadelphia A’s in 1943.  Considering these feats, it’s easy to jump to the idea that a MLB career isn’t too far away for these boys. But looking at the following numbers will make anyone think twice.

According to chasingmlbdreams.com, only 1 in every 200 high school baseball players are drafted by a major league team into the minors. According to motherjones.com, only about 10% of those players will actually make it to the majors. So if my math is correct (granted I failed math in high school) only 0.005% of high school baseball players will make it to the majors.

Laying the ground work for a MLB career is no small task. In fact, most players miss that window of opportunity by the time they’re of legal drinking age. This also means that high school players like Brownlow, Hahn, and Hudson may have some hard decisions to make. Thinking about a career in baseball is a lot for a high school senior. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that teens already have it harder than any other generation. They don’t need pressure. They need selfless guidance and support.

There’s a Lot That Goes Into Building a MLB Career

The exposure to social media and advancements in technology is making it harder than ever to be a teen. Social obligations, peer pressure, efforts to fit in, and wondering what to do with his or her life all weigh on a teen’s mind. Not to mention their brains haven’t fully developed yet making it harder to make rational decisions (though you could say the same about members of Congress). It’s a real dilemma of you think about it. Giving up time with your friends and family to focus solely on baseball is hard enough. It’s even harder when you consider there’s still no guarantee of making it to the majors no matter how hard you work. But the idea of looking back one day and wondering what could have been can also be daunting.

Whether Brownlow, Hahn, and Hudson are seriously considering a MLB career is unknown. What I do know is that regardless of their decision, as teens they’ll need a lot of help and support. If they want to pursue a career in baseball they’ll need as much support as they can get. They’ll have to recognize what it’ll take and what sacrifices they’ll have to make. But at the same time, whoever is there for them also needs to remember that they’re young. They’re going to make mistakes. They’ll have regrets from time to time. In those instances they’ll need to know that they’ll always be supported and loved. I’m not their coach, nor am I their dad or brother. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with my sentiments.

These Baseball Records Will Never Be Broken

Baseball records fall almost every season. Most of them are obscure and don’t get much attention. Former Atlanta Braves second baseman Mark Lemke holds the record for most plate appearances (3664) without being hit by a pitch. Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings holds the record for most hit-by-pitches (287). While these records are interesting, they’re not the kind that players set out to break. There are some baseball records, however, that will never be broken. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Cal Ripken Jr.’s Consecutive Game Streak

Cal Ripken Jr. made history on September 6, 1995 when he passed Lou Gehrig’sbaseball records consecutive games-played streak of 2130. That’s 2130 straight games that Ripken didn’t miss despite broken bones and sprains. With the clauses and stipulations in contracts nowadays, you’ll never see another player come close to breaking this record.

Cy Young’s Record of 511 Wins

Cy Young holds the record for most wins, and losses, for a pitcher at 511-316. Young played for 21 years during a time when relief pitching was rare and a pitcher threw all nine innings. Nowadays it’s a monumental feat if a pitcher wins 300 games in his career.

Joe DiMaggio’s 56-Game Hitting Streak

This is a record historians and Yankee fans stubbornly defend as one that’ll never fall. In 1941, DiMaggio hit safely in 56 games. Since then, Pete Rose is the only player to come close to breaking that record with a 44-game streak in 1978. Many players have reached the 20 and 30 game plateau. With modern technology utilized by almost every pitcher to analyze opposing batting stances, it’s likely no player will ever surpass DiMaggio.

Ty Cobb’s .366 Lifetime Batting Average

The best players today can barely reach this average in a season. So the idea of a player coming anywhere close to breaking Cobb’s lifetime batting average record is nonexistent. Cobb batted over .400 three times and won nine consecutive batting titles. He’s also only one of two players with more than 4,000 hits in his career. Like a pitcher winning 300 games, getting 3,000 hits is hard enough. To accumulate enough hits to pass Cobb’s .366 average will never happen. This is one of those baseball records that players will find difficult to come within 50 points of reaching.

Batting Records Aren’t What They Used To Be

Technological advancements are putting a dent in the pursuit of records. Pitchers and hitters now have hundreds of different types of media they can analyze to gain an advantage over their opponents. Medical advances are prolonging baseball careers, but they’re also revealing flaws in practices that pitchers and hitters have relied on for years. Whereas it was once common for pitchers to throw all nine innings and go past 150 pitches, it is now proving detrimental to their arms.

Better designed base gloves also play a role in setting and breaking baseball records. For example, Ty Cobb holds the American League record with the most errors by an outfielder with 271. Those errors account for a lot of base hits. But baseball has seen a huge drop in errors by outfielders now that gloves are better designed with a wider net and stronger grip.

While the records listed above will likely remain standing for years to come, baseball could use a shot in the arm in the form of their pursuit. Ripken’s pursuit of Gehrig’s record excited baseball fans in the wake of the 1994 strike. It brought fans back to the ballpark. While attendance isn’t an issue right now, seeing someone like Mike Trout pursue Barry Bonds’ single season HR record would make the game even more exciting to watch.

Travis Shaw Trade Comes Back To Haunt Sox

The Red Sox are kicking themselves right now. They can’t get out of third place. They’ve struggled to find a consistent third baseman for the last few seasons. For a while, fans and management alike thought they’d finally found him in Travis Shaw. Shaw, a 9th round pick Travis Shaw Tradein the 2011 MLB Draft, excited Red Sox Nation with his home runs in 2015. Unfortunately for Shaw, his slumping 2016 season led the Red Sox to trade him to the Milwaukee Brewers. Now, as the Red Sox battle the Brewers at Miller Stadium, the Travis Shaw trade is coming back to haunt them.

Shaw was a little more than surprised when Boston traded him away. After all, the Red Sox touted him as one of the up-and-coming greats. Fans saw his face on t-shirts and magazines. But his .187 batting average against lefties last season quickly became a liability. His 16 errors in 105 games didn’t help his case either. But despite his numbers, Shaw fit in well with his teammates, with whom he remains on good terms.

Shaw’s happy where he is, but he wants to show Boston what they’re missing. “I want to win the trade,” Shaw was quoted as saying in the Portland Press Herald. “I want to make Milwaukee look way better than Boston looks for trading me. As a competitor, everybody would say the same thing. The guy you get traded for, you want to do better than him.”

The Travis Shaw Trade Is The Red Sox Latest Embarrassment

Shaw is having his best season so far in the majors. He’s hitting above .270 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Meanwhile, Tyler Thornburg, the pitcher the Red Sox got in exchange for Shaw, has yet to pitch this season. Injuries continue to plague the Red Sox in ways that not only hold them back, but throws their consistency completely out of whack. They’re struggling to get a foot hold on the season but one injury after another keeps them back.

The Travis Shaw trade hasn’t panned out for the Red Sox. If they can take anything away from this experience, it’s that they shouldn’t be so quick to trade away potential stars until they’ve had a few seasons to show their worth.

Stop Blaming Farrell For Red Sox Mishaps

There’s a Facebook group called The Remy Report that posts updates just about every hour about the Red Sox. Most of the posts lately have focused on John Farrell and the Red Sox poor performance this season. A Mojority of the posts strongly state that the Red Soxblaming farrell must fire him. But it’s time to stop blaming Farrell. What we’re seeing isn’t a managing issue. What Red Sox Nation is seeing is a team trying to find its stride in the wake of injuries and David Ortiz’s departure.

First and foremost, injuries have hit the Red Sox hard this season. Brock Holt has vertigo. Pablo Sandoval hurt his right knee. David Price hasn’t pitched a game yet due to arm issues. Jackie Bradley Jr. sprained his knee last month. Dustin Pedrioa got spiked in Baltimore and had to take time off. Steve Wright just had season-ending surgery. The Red Sox just can’t catch a break. These constant interruptions are leading Farrell to make major changes to the lineup and he hasn’t quite found a formula that works yet. That takes time.

Blaming Farrell Is Easy, But Building A Strong Lineup Is Hard

It takes a while for a team to create the kind of consistency it needs to win games. Players have to adjust to their place in the lineup. They have to build communication with newer players. And they have to learn how to counter the opposing pitchers who’ve studied their batting strengthens and weaknesses. Many fans don’t realize how many moving parts there are in building a winning team. Red Sox can’t just fire every manager that loses a game.

There’s no doubt the Red Sox have a strong lineup. But they’re also young. Players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, and Xander Bogaerts have only been around a few years. They’re not seasoned veterans yet. Their pitching staff is new too. David Price, Rick Porcello, and Steve Wright haven’t been with the team for more than a year or two each years. Pitchers and hitters aren’t like a computer that you can program for success. These guys, while they know one another, still have a lot to learn about each other and themselves. They don’t have Big Papi to lead them anymore. They are searching for their own place on the team. Until that happens, don’t expect the Red Sox to grab first place anytime soon.

Those in Red Sox Nation blaming Farrell every time the Red Sox lose need to chill out. Yes, it’s completely acceptable to get mad when they lose. But I can all but guarantee you that the next manager won’t be much different. In fact, the Red Sox would have an even harder time adjusting with new management if they fired Farrell now.

Stop hitting the panic button, but don’t hesitate to hit it again if the Red Sox don’t pick up the pace by July.