Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped down Last Week Tonight or Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.
There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right to our first segment:
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The “unwritten rules” of baseball are many, but they seem to be disregarded with more frequency these days. In the age of the bat flip and #LetTheKidsPlay, it’s easy to see an old curmudgeon like Goose Gossage getting his feathers ruffled at any and all demonstrative behavior on the field.
Gossage famously blamed “nerds” for ruining baseball and deemed players who toss their bats a “disgrace.” Gossage hasn’t played since 1994, when he finished up his career at the tender age of 42, but his old school sensibilities live on—triumphantly for some, and like a turd that won’t flush for others.
It’s no surprise that many who are fans of the old school approach to the game have always been enamored with Madison Bumgarner, a player of a similar ilk in the sense that he believes in quietly going about your business and avoiding enthusiastic celebrations lest they show up an opponent.
Granted, Bumgarner isn’t quite as riled up as Gossage is with the millennial style of play. He’s not out there calling anyone a disgrace to the game. However, there always seems to be a dustup every year whenever he faces the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. First, it was numerous altercations with Yasiel Puig…
… and now, Max Muncy seems to have rankled his ire:
Bumgarner vs. The Dodgers tends to get a little heated: pic.twitter.com/WSMPwWEEkX
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 9, 2019
Bumgarner clearly took issue with Muncy admiring his titanic blast into McCovey Cove. As far as Bumgarner is concerned, after you sting him like that, you should just put your head down and run the bases instead of pimping your home run.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 28, 2019
Viewer discretion advised, indeed. I’m pretty sure Bumgarner would have had an aneurysm screaming at Dietrich while his teammates held him down. And if he got loose?
— AXS TV Fights (@AXSTVFights) June 15, 2019
Or something like that. MadBum should probably talk with Justin Verlander about this:
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) June 19, 2019
Anyway, to hear Bumgarner tell it to the beat writers after the game, there really is a flipside to consider here…
“You know, my god, I can’t even say it with a straight face,” Bumgarner said. “I was going to say the more I think about it, you’ve got to just let the kids play, that’s what everybody is saying, but… They want to let everybody be themselves. Let me by myself—that’s me, you know? I’d just as soon fight than walk or whatever. You just do your thing, I’ll do mine. Everybody is different. I can’t speak for everybody else, but that’s just how I want to play. And that’s how I’m going to.”
Ok, so he does have a point. If you want to pimp moonshots and strut down the first base line like this…
— Bill Donmoyer (@bdonmoyer) March 30, 2019
… then you shouldn’t have a problem when the other guy expresses himself by telling you to go #%*@ yourself.
Muncy’s response, quite honestly, was perfect:
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) June 9, 2019
Then, LA took it a step further:
— #OfficialDodgersDJ (@djsevere) June 21, 2019
They finally capped their assault off with this:
— Organist Alert (@organistalert) June 21, 2019
Admittedly, the organist gets heavy props for that bit. So too, though, does anyone who points out to Max Muncy that he hit the ball into a bay… not an ocean.
If you’re gonna fling some spears, son, gotta come correct with ’em.
This really should be seen as all in good fun. To be honest, I’d take home run swagger and barking pitchers over retaliation by beaning any day.
In case you’re wondering, here’s pitching equivalent of Derek Dietrich:
Lip readers: What you got? pic.twitter.com/ZLYOPzjBTn
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 22, 2019
Out of the Park
A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week
I recently discussed Tampa Bay’s lack of attendance, and it’s rather interesting that this just happened this week:
BREAKING: The Rays are going to explore splitting home games with Montreal in future seasons as part of a plan they say would keep baseball in the Tampa Bay area long term. https://t.co/b2jWASKGm2
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) June 20, 2019
This is fantastic on so many levels. First, the opinions on this vary so much, it can’t be overstated. I mean, just look at the kinds of responses this news has elicited:
BROKE: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
WOKE: The Tampa Bay Rays of Montreal
— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) June 20, 2019
So lemme get this straight: MLB and Rob Manfred wants the Rays to play in Tampa Bay AND Montreal if both locations can get a stadium deal?
In other words have taxpayers foot the bill for baseball for only half a season?
— Obstructedviewer (@Obstructedview2) June 21, 2019
But how will they fit “Spring-in-Tampa-Bay-Then-Late-Summer-in-Montreal Rays” on a uniform? https://t.co/ZjlSIij9Sd
— Harrison Golden (@harrisongolden) June 20, 2019
I could go on, but you get the point. Some love the idea, while others hate it. Baseball wives, like Eric Sogard‘s wife, would hate it.
This is what baseball-wife nightmares are made of. https://t.co/LVzuhXrkDG
— Kaycee Sogard (@KayceeSogard) June 20, 2019
The real kernel here is the fact that there seems to be a real intent on MLB’s part to get a team back into Montreal, which is both a stellar idea and long overdue.
The Rays are currently just in the exploratory phase here when it comes to this idea, so there are bound to be questions and perhaps not a lot of answers. It’s not surprising, however, that a creative franchise like Tampa Bay, fresh off its invention of the “opener” is the team seriously considering operating out of two countries.
Players aren’t going to like the idea of having two homes, even if many of them do anyway already. For a team that has to win on a bargain, it sure would be expensive paying players extra, via extra salary or stipend, to offset issues like taxes, currency exchange, and family travel costs. This would also almost certainly require the team move spring training back to Tampa so the team could report there and stay there until it was time to venture to Montreal.
The best part, however, would be convincing the team to learn French. I know just the guy for the job:
June 20: The Tampa Bay Rays explore playing in Montreal.
— Pete (@fl_west) June 22, 2019
Where Baseball Got Caught Looking
You know, come to think of it, Derek Dietrick would probably prefer Bumgarner attempting to spear him over this:
Can you blame Derek Dietrich for being mentally and physically exhausted after these first two games in Milwaukee?
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) June 22, 2019
He’s also the first player in the live ball era to be hit-by-pitch five times in a two-game span. As calm as Dietrich was during that painful sequence of events, you’d almost think he prepared for it. Because, of course, he did:
— Jay Montague (@JJmTron) June 22, 2019
This guy against LA.
One. Last. Time.pic.twitter.com/WDbUgS4vZi
— cole kuiper (@cmkuiper) June 21, 2019
That’s the ballgame for this week!
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)