Are We Seeing a New Era of Entitled Baseball Players?

The Houston Astros played the Chicago White Sox last Friday night in Chicago. The Astros’ Justin Verlander, arguably a future Hall of Famer, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. The White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson had other plans though. Anderson broke up the no-no in the bottom of the fifth with a single, but that’s not what angered Verlander. With a 3-0 count on the next batter, Anderson attempted to steal second base, but the next batter walked so the steal didn’t count. It was Anderson’s apparent celebration of the walk that upset Verlander. Was Anderson wrong to showboat on the field? Or is Verlander a part of a new era of entitled baseball players?

“I wasn’t upset with him being excited about getting a hit,” Verlander was quoted asentitled baseball players saying in a Yahoo! Sports article. “But he celebrated [trying to steal on a 3-0 in a 5-0 game], though.” When told about Verlander’s annoyance at him, Anderson replied, “I’m out just playing and having fun. If he took it to heart, so what?”

There’s no doubt that players get frustrated, especially pitchers. But does Verlander have a point about the unwritten rules of baseball that apparently say it’s not cool to try and steal on a 3-0 count? Or is Verlander just being a crybaby? After all, Verlander got the win and the White Sox never scored on him. So what’s he complaining about?

Baseball players have always been cocky. Reggie Jackson once said, “After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson, I really mean that.” Rickey Henderson used to talk about himself in the third person, calling himself the greatest of all time. Bob Gibson refused to talk to members of the opposing team. So what’s the difference between Verlander and these Hall of Famers? First of all, these HoFers were very competitive. That’s not to say that Verlander isn’t. But fans didn’t usually hear the kind of petty complaining from these guys. That’s not to say they never complained. But the difference is that Verlander is throwing a fit over a game that he and the Astros won 10-0. How much is enough for him? And if the White Sox were down that much, why WOULDN’T they try to steal bases to try and get ahead? Who is Verlander to say what they can and can’t do?

Entitled Baseball Players Ruin the Fun

On April 1st, the Orioles’ catcher Chance Sisco dropped a bunt against the Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Jose Berrios and reached first safely. While Berrios won the game 7-0, the Twins were mad at Sisco for bunting. According to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier wasn’t happy about the bunt. “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it. He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at second base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there. I’m sure they’ll address that. It’s all about learning. You learn up here.”

Again, what’s the problem here? The Astros and Twins won both games by hefty margins, but they didn’t like the opposing team’s attempts to exploit their weakness. It’s like hearing a mugger complain to the police because someone squirted pepper spray in his eyes as he tried to steal a purse. What did you think the other party was going to do? Just roll over and give up because you’re overpowering them?

Verlander and Berrios need to remember what the great Orioles manager Earl Weaver once said, “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” The White Sox and Orioles, respectively, got another chance and did what they could to overcome the deficit. That’s the whole point of the game of baseball, if not most other sports. Verlander and Berrios should focus less on being entitled baseball players and focus more on being a good sport.

Players refusing to question these “unwritten rules” not only puts their team at risk of losing but emboldens the arrogance seen in these entitled baseball players.

Book Review of Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox

Rumors about Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey’s racism have persisted for years. Yawkey, who owned the Red Sox from 1933 until his death in 1976, owned the last team to integrate in 1959. Critics point out how the team declined to sign Jackie Robinson following a tryout at Fenway in 1945. Journalists and historians tell different stories about the tryout itself. Author Bill Nowlin explores these stories, along with all the other aspects of Yawkey’s life, in his biography Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox.

During an August 2017 interview, Nowlin told me that “…in all my research I never foundTom Yawkey any hard evidence – no ‘smoking gun’ – to indicate that Tom Yawkey himself was personally racist.” In fact, Nowlin mentions that sportswriter Clif Keane may have fabricated the story about the racial epithet altogether. Nowlin, however, does not completely exonerate Yawkey. “…on 24 hours’ notice [Yawkey] could have ensured the Red Sox had an African American ballplayer. The facts show that the team was institutionally racist up until at least 1959.”

Dick Johnson of the Sports Museum of New England, who is quoted throughout the book, concurs. “It was stupidity and bad management…It was only years afterward when Neil Mahoney and Dick O’Connell and Ed Kenney and the really good, intelligent, colorblind (for the most part) staffers they had were allowed to have a say and to have a little bit of control over things [that things changed].”

These themes, as well as other aspects of Yawkey’s life, are meticulously detailed in Nowlin’s biography of a complex man.

Nowlin’s Biography Gives Tom Yawkey His Day In Court

While Nowlin goes into great detail about how Yawkey is remember today, he doesn’t make it the focal point. Norlin gives his readers a complete and thorough narrative about who Yawkey was as an owner and a person. Norlin describes a man who went to great lengths to take care of others, including members of the opposing team. This vivid description gives readers all the information they need to make their own judgement call about the man.

The tremendous attention to detail throughout the entire book makes it difficult to second guess Nowlin’s scholarship. Nowlin relies on previous research that he painstakingly cites, while providing a fresh and insightful story of his own. The accounts and perspectives he was able to extract through personal interviews are the highlight of the biography. Readers will also appreciate Nowlin’s exploration of what happened to the Red Sox in the years following Yawkey’s death. His detailed account of the post-Yawkey years suggest that the impact he had on the team, and the City of Boston, was so great that it’s impossible to end the book with his death.

There are only a handful of other writers who rival Nowlin’s contributions to the history of the Red Sox. His biography of Tom Yawkey solidifies that accolade, while providing baseball fans and scholars alike with a first-rate biography of a misunderstood man.

Book Review of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond

Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond tells the story of Davey Johnson, a baseball player-turned-manager who, among other accolades, guided the 1986 New York Mets to a World Series Championship. Johnson co-authored the book with author Erik Sherman and discusses his early days with the Baltimore Orioles, his playing stints in Japan, and his return to the United States where he finished his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1978.

There are many avenues in the book to explore, but Johnson’s interest in sabermetricsdavey johnson will certainly catch readers’ attention. With a strong interest in math and computers, Johnson used computers to calculate different possible lineups for the Orioles. Johnson once processed punch cards with each possible lineup through 27 out 162 times using data from the 1968 season. He used the results to argue that he should bat second in the lineup. This anecdote is one of many about Johnson’s fascination with numbers. His love for numbers served him well in baseball, as well as a successful real estate investor.

Readers will be surprised to find out that Johnson played many significant roles throughout his baseball career. He saw Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. Johnson also saw Sadaharu Oh also surpass Ruth when he played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He also played a major role in urging the Washington Nationals’ to draft Bryce Harper, who Johnson recognized as a future superstar. All in all, Johnson would finish his playing days with four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner before becoming a big league manager.

Davey Johnson’s Book is a Classic Example of Grace and Agility

Some baseball players write autobiographies in order to settle a score, or tell their side of the story about a controversial issue. Davey Johnson’s autobiography isn’t quite one of those books. While Johnson’s book isn’t void of these topics, he easily could have been more critical than he was about certain people such as George Foster, who once called Johnson a racist, or about Dwight Gooden’s struggles with drug addiction. Johnson instead focuses on his teammates’ and players’ contributions to the game while holding them accountable for their mistakes. While he doesn’t mince words, the book makes it clear that Johnson cared deeply for everyone he worked with, regardless of how they felt about him. Johnson prides himself on the fact that he treated all of his players equally while holding himself responsible as a manager for their well-being.

Davey Johnson is a Real Family Man

While Johnson certainly admits to being cocky at times throughout his career, co-author Erik Sherman articulately and eloquently captures Johnson’s devotion to his family. The book goes into detail about Johnson’s daughter, Andrea, who had been a nationally ranked amateur surfer in the late 1980s who died of complications from Schizophrenia in 2005. In 2011, Johnson also lost Jake, a stepson, who had been visually and hearing impaired throughout most of his life. In the pages detailing these hardships, readers don’t see an overly-confident and cocky ballplayer. They see a man who stopped at nothing to do everything he could for all of his children. Anyone who reads between the lines will clearly see the man has a heart of gold.

Johnson’s book is one of the better and more insightful baseball autobiographies covering the Modern Baseball Era. Johnson’s book sets itself apart from other autobiographies by giving his side of the story without sounding vindictive. He doesn’t just gloss over the major events in his baseball career either. Johnson pays attention to specific detail and gives praise to others where praise is due. After reading My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, sabermetricians, baseball historians, and general fans of the game of baseball will have gained a new and insightful perspective of the game that Davey Johnson clearly loves so much.

Holt and Kelly Reignite Rivalry Between Sox and Yankees

There hasn’t been much of a rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees since the Sox won the 2004 World Series. In fact, the two teams seemed almost amicable in recent years. That all changed Wednesday night though when Red Sox and Yankees brawled it out during the second of a three game series. It started with Brock Holt contesting a slide, and ended with Joe Kelly punching Tyler Austin. Seeing Holt and Kelly reignite the rivalry not only makes the game more exciting, but will intensify the Red Sox quest for another World Series Championship.

It all began Wednesday night when the Yankees’ Tyler Austin slid into second base andKelly reignites clipped Holt’s leg with his spikes. Holt and Austin exchanged words and the benches cleared but no one threw punches. That is, until the top of the 7th inning. Reliever Joe Kelly faced Austin and proceeded to throw inside pitches before finally clunking Austin in the ribs. Austin retaliated by charging the mound where he and Kelly exchanged blows. Once again, both teams cleared their benches. As a result, Kelly received a six-game suspension and Austin received a five-game penalty. Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Yankee third base coach Phil Nevin were fined for their part in the brawl.

Holt and Kelly Reignite a Century-Old Feud

The Boston Red Sox took two out of the three game series, making them 10-2 as of April 13th. The two losses pushed the Yankees back to 6-7 and third place in the AL East. But while it’s too early to tell whether the two teams will be playoff contenders come the fall, one thing is certain: Baseball’s biggest rivalry is back.

“They have a pretty good team over there,” Holt said of the Yankees in a masslive.com article. “It happened. Typical Red Sox-Yankee game. About four hours long and a couple bench-clearing brawls. So we’re right on track here.”

Red Sox nation couldn’t be happier.

Who Will Be the Red Sox Rivals This Year?

Everyone in Red Sox Nation took a collective sigh when the New York Yankees signed Giancarlo Stanton. As much as Sox fans hate to admit it, the Yankees are now an offensive threat to all other American League teams. Along with Stanton, the Yankees also have 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, as well as Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner, all 20+ season HR winners. But is it time for another team to replace the Yankees? If the Red Sox rivals aren’t the Yankees anymore, then who?

The Baltimore Orioles Could Be The New Red Sox Rivals

The Red Sox rival this season could be the Baltimore Orioles. Bad blood erupted betweenred sox rivalry the two teams last season when the O’s Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia in a mid-April game. While it didn’t look intentional, it sparked a string of near-brawls. The following day Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes almost hit Manny Machado in the head. A few weeks later, the Baltimore Orioles travelled to Fenway Park where outfielder Adam Jones became the target of bigots who allegedly shouted racial epithets at him. While Red Sox Nation showed respect by giving him a standing ovation at his first at-bat the following game, it did little to quell the intensity.

It Could Also Be The Rays

The Boston Red Sox fell to the Rays in their first game of the season 6-4 despite a masterful pitching performance by Chris Sale. Many in Red Sox Nation, including me, have often taken the Tampa Bay Rays for granted given that they haven’t been real playoff contenders for a while. The Red Sox pulled off a win in their home opener on April 5th, but it was a 13-inning nail biter that probably shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Think about it for a minute. Every time the Rays come to Boston, or the team goes to Tampa Bay, it ends up being a tougher series to win than anyone initially thought. So the Rays could potentially be the Red Sox rivals in secret. (This rivalry isn’t likely anymore though after Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam in during the second inning of the April 7th game at Fenway Park).

Regardless, the 2018 season is shaping up to be one of the best for the Red Sox. They’re on a hot streak, and this could potentially be a World Series year for them.

Alex Cora Needs Red Sox Nation’s Support

Many in Red Sox Nation were quick to slam Alex Cora when the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first game of the season. Cora pulled Chris Sale after six innings after giving up only one hit and striking out nine. This move led many to wonder why Cora didn’t let Sale continue his dominance. The criticism intensified after Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew the Red Sox’s lead. It’s convenient to blame him for pulling Sale. However, Alex Cora needs patience and support from Red Sox Nation.

There’s a lot of pressure on Cora and the Red Sox this season. The team won back-to-alex cora needsback American League Eastern Division titles in 2016 and 2017, but fell in the first round. The front office finally lost patience with John Farrell who, despite bringing a World Series Championship to Boston in 2013, had become more of a detriment than an asset in recent seasons. His termination came as welcomed news, but that also meant his replacement would face tremendous scrutiny early into the 2018 season.

I’m not excusing Cora’s decision making in the team’s first game of the season. Many fans were left baffled by Cora’s decision to pull Sale after six innings. Sale wasn’t in trouble. The team had a 4-0 lead. It was entirely possible Sale could have thrown a one-hit shutout to start off the season. That’s not how it panned out though. Boston lost 6-4, and Red Sox Nation started criticizing Cora before the team had the chance to walk off the field.

Alex Cora Needs Support, But He Has a Lot to Learn

This season is Cora’s first as a manager. He’s going to need the first several weeks of the season to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame him if he was thinking that he didn’t want to overextend Chris Sale so early in the season. In that case, pulling him after six innings makes sense. It’s hard to blame him for bringing Joe Kelly in too. In fact, Kelly took responsibility for his poor outing. “It was pretty pathetic what I did out there,” Kelly said in a Boston.com article.

Cora has a lot to learn about being a manager, especially in Boston where fans aren’t as forgiving as they are in other cities. But Cora isn’t John Farrell. It’s not fair to hold him to the standard Red Sox Nation held Farrell to last season. That doesn’t mean that Cora will get a pass in his first season though. Nor should he. While Cora might have a steep learning curve ahead of him, at the end of the day he’s still the manager. He’s going to have to learn to pick his battles, and figure out how key moves might play out before he tries them. So while Alex Cora needs Red Sox Nation’s support and patience, Alex Cora also needs to realize that patience and support doesn’t last as long in Boston as he did in Houston.

Let’s hope for the best for Alex Cora this season. But let’s also let him know that our patience and support isn’t infinite.