Yesterday was an exciting day of college football if you’ve finally accepted the idea that your team losing more than winning is likely to be the best thing for the near and long-term future of the program. Which I have. So yesterday was an exciting day of college football.
- Let’s just concede a couple realities up front: (1) In the immediate aftermath of a season in which a team does not make the playoffs, there’s not a ton happening in their world; (2) although I have tons to write about the Cubs, they aren’t all the kind of this-is-something-happening-right-now items that typically lead off the Bullets; and (3) the Cardinals are a particularly relevant “other” team to Cubs fans. So, when something big happens in the Cardinals world as they go through the playoffs, it’s fair game for the lead Bullet spot, and I hope you’ll not think me one of those lame Cubs fans who can think of nothing other than how much he dislikes the Cardinals.
- So, the story: Yadier Molina will not be punished for shoving an umpire in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. We already knew that he wasn’t going to be suspended, since he played last night, and although Derrick Goold writes that there’s a chance Molina could be fined, MLB may have already informed the Cardinals that no punishment – not even a fine – is forthcoming. Splendid. A catcher and batter start screaming at each other after the previous batter is plunked. An umpire tries to intervene to prevent escalation, and the catcher shoves the ump out of the way (making contact with him twice in the process). The catcher is not only not ejected on the spot, he’s not suspended thereafter, and he’s likely to not even be fined. Totally makes sense. If the jawing had been between Molina and Yasiel Puig, and Puig had shoved the ump, I’m sure he wouldn’t have been ejected/suspended/fined, either. Yup. I totally believe that.
- (Aside: in Goold’s story, he identifies what Molina did with this technically accurate, but definitely charitable, description: “During his attempt to engage Gonzalez about what Molina said was ‘screaming’ at him, Molina made contact with the umpire, moving him out of the way.” Ah, Molina was just politely moving the umpire to another location – maybe for his own safety? Imagine that as an excuse for punching someone. “But, your honor, I wasn’t trying to hit the plaintiff, it’s just that his face was occupying the space where I wanted my fist to be, so I went ahead and moved his face out of the way.”)
- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny justified the shove this way (Cardinals.com): “There are a bunch of people in everybody’s space. Everybody was pushing. You get claustrophobic. You get defensive. And it’s all a big blur. [Umpire] Jerry [Meals] did a nice job of not making something out of nothing. [Molina] was just trying to get people off of him.” I am living in a bizarro universe, man. First of all, that’s completely bogus, because when Molina shoved the ump, there weren’t “a bunch of people in everybody’s space.” There was Molina, Adrian Gonzalez, and a freaking umpire in between. That’s it. Secondly, when there is craziness all around a player, that’s precisely when you want him to be able to keep his cool, because dangerous things can happen.
- In any case, the ump, the league, and the Cardinals have all sent the same message now: umpires are free game. If you’re angry and they’re in your way, shove ‘em. You won’t be punished. Because we’ll all remember this event the next time, and there’s no way the decision had to do with the fact that this was an important St. Louis Cardinals player. So this precedent will be applied uniformly. Right?
- One more thing: it’s not like Molina has a pristine past when it comes to avoiding contact with umpires.
- The Sunday notes at FanGraphs have a number of interesting items, including some of the flexibility a team should allow in defensive positioning (if they’ve got a player who can handle it).
- John Baker’s 0.00 ERA was tied for best in baseball this season.