My Harshed Mellow

Aviles at Fenway 2010 (Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor used with permission)

I’ll be honest, as a woman, Mike Aviles makes my eyes happy.  And since, lately, I’ve been looking for things to be happy about instead of focusing on the negative, I’ll take it.

Unfortunately, the universe seems to like it when I focus on the negative, so forgive me while I rant about the “unwritten rules” of baseball.

By now, pretty much everyone who follows baseball knows what happened in the Tigers/Angels game on Sunday.  Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver were both pitching great games (Verlander brought a no-hitter into the 8th inning) and things got testy.  Weaver thought Magglio Ordonez pimped a home run and barked at him, ala Kevin Gregg, to get to first base.  (General consensus is that Maggs wasn’t pimping, he was watching to see if the ball went foul.  Maybe he should have still taken first but I don’t think it’s the pitcher’s job to point this out.  Nonetheless, Weaver got cranky.)  So Carlos Guillen decides that he will definitely pimp his home run when the time comes, and if you haven’t see it you really need to check it out.  Manny Ramirez could take home run pimping lessons from Guillen.  Weaver, obviously, doesn’t like this and barks at him as well.  The homeplate umpire senses the tension and warns both benches before poor Alex Avila steps up to the plate but that doesn’t bother Weaver, who sails a fastball over (at?  I guess that’s up for debate) Alex’s head and gets himself immediately ejected.  (Home run pimping doesn’t generally bother me.  I like Dennis Eckersley’s belief that if you don’t want a batter to show you up you don’t throw him a pitch he can hit out of the park.   But much like Verlander’s attitude after the game annoyed me, so did Guillen’s.  You did nothing valiant by pimping that homer, Carlos.  All you did was get Alex Avila thrown at.)


But wait, there’s more.

We’re in the top of the 8th and the score is 3-0 and JustinVerlander is throwing a no-hitter.  Erick Aybar comes up to bat and bunts.  Yeah, yeah, bunting is against the unwritten code and Verlander isn’t happy.  He fields the bunt and throws it away, sending Aybar to second base.  If Verlander’s eyes were lasers, Aybar would have been vaporized.  Justin was none too happy about Aybar bunting (calling it “bush league” after the game) and this is where (since I was watching the game) I finally lose it.  Verlander (and the Detroit broadcasters and at least half of the people in my Twitter timeline) was pissed because Aybar dared to bunt to get on base in a 3-0 game.  I “lose” it because I’m become blind with the stupidity that in a game that is not out of reach (and a game being out of reach is debatable as well) a player shouldn’t do whatever he can to get on base and possibly generate runs.

When Verlander was eventually taken out of the game (after the Angels scored and the no-hitter was gone) he was scene in the dugout using hand gestures to tell Aybar that he was going to get one in the back the next time they met.  (Unfortunately for Verlander, unless that happens in the playoffs,  that won’t be until next year.)  That’s how pissed Verlander was about Aybar bunting on him.

(Fake edit because as I finished writing this entry I remembered that there was a crazy play where Aybar was in a rundown and, according to Verlander, who messed that one up to, allowing Aybar to score, Erick threw an elbow into Verlander’s ribs.  Now, if true, I’m sure it was in retaliation for Verlander staring him down after the bunt.  Still, is there anyone on either of these teams who knows how to act like an adult?)

Of all people, Torii Hunter had the best quote to sum up the day:

“It was stupid. All stupid. Everybody was stupid.”

Well put, Torii.  Everybody was stupid.  Unfortunately for the Angels, the only stupid that will be reprimanded is Jered Weaver’s.  Reports are he could be looking at a six-game suspension.  Most likely, he’ll find out today and if it is six games that means he’ll be missing one start for purposely throwing a fast ball at/around/over a batter’s head.  If he had actually hit Avila would he have gotten seven games?  (I really don’t get the system for suspending pitchers.  I think purposely chucking the ball at another player’s head, even if  you don’t hit him, should be good for missing at least two starts, no?)

Anyway, my ire isn’t so much for all the stupidity in Sunday’s game but for the opinions being tossed around.  Joe Posnanski does a great job here of covering the mind-numbing opinion that Guillen not only was right to pimp that homer but that he did in in defense of Ordonez.  More ridiculous to me is how many people are so put off by Aybar bunting his way on in the 8th.

Listen, I love pitchers, obviously.  It’s more fun for me to watch a strike out than a home run most of the time.  And in the past I have defended many the unwritten rule because who am I to tell the guys who play the game how they should play it, right?  But this one…ANY unwritten rule that prohibits a team from trying to get on base or score just because of certain other circumstances in the game…makes me crazy.  The score wasn’t 17-3 in the 9th inning with two outs.  It was 3-0 in the 8th inning with no outs.  Who in their right mind wouldn’t try to get something started in the 8th inning if their team was losing, regardless of the circumstances?  Why should Aybar have cared about breaking up a no-hitter if he thought it would get him on base?

Now, as an important aside, given what transpired before Aybar’s at-bat, there is no doubt in my mind that he was trying to tweak Verlander AS WELL AS trying to start something on the field.  So if you are okay with Guillen uberpimping his home run, I would think you’d be okay with Aybar bunting to get on base, yes?  (As Joe Posnanski noted, Guillen, in “defending” Ordonez, knowingly put Avila at risk.  How is that okay but Aybar just trying to get on the darn base isn’t?)

My take in a nutshell:  Ordonez didn’t pimp his homer and Weaver overreacted to it.  Guillen overreacted to Weaver’s overreaction by being a total jackass and Avila paid the price for both Weaver and Guillen being idiots.  Aybar, while probably wanting to stick it to Verlander because his team was being no-hit and embarrassed, also saw an opportunity to get on base and possibly score and by bunting he ended up doing both.  Unless he did elbow Verlander, he did nothing wrong.  Verlander acted like a baby on the mound, in the dugout and after the game when talking to the press.  And, really, that’s all I have.  The entire lot of them should just STFU.

Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians last night while the Yankees beat the White Sox.  I’m not happy any time the Sox lose an entire game in the standings but I have a difficult time beating up on Daniel Bard.  Kid’s been amazing for the Sox and he’s going to have a bad game now and then.  It happens.  Beckett on the mound tonight will, hopefully, perk us up.

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