MLBits: Ugly Free Agent Class, Ugly Fight, Castro Success, Haren's Decline, More

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MLBits: Ugly Free Agent Class, Ugly Fight, Castro Success, Haren’s Decline, More

Chicago Cubs

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Mondays are tough enough without a Cubs game and without knowing what’s going on around baseball. So let’s start the week off with an MLBits …

  • Did you catch the big fight this weekend? No, you didn’t miss any pay per view MMA or Boxing matches, I’m talking about the, perhaps inevitable, matchup between the Rangers (Rougned Odor) and the Blue Jays (Jose Bautista). Brett got into it a bit here and here, but you can read about the many angles to the fight all over today (here, here, herehere and here, for some of the most interesting examples). The boiled down version is that Odor took offense at Bautista’s pretty late slide into second base (which came after Bautista was plunked), prompting the typical “let’s size each other up” event that’s relatively common in sports. Except this time, Odor cocked his arm back and unleashed a devastating blow to Bautista’s chin. The benches cleared and a pretty long fight ensued.
  • Later, the Blue Jays responded in the bottom half of the inning by plunking Prince Fielder in what was probably one of the most obvious retaliation pitches in recent memory (Read mine and John Baker’s thoughts on retaliation from last summer). It’s hard to discern just how much of this brawl and ensuing retaliation was due to Bautista’s now-infamous bat flip in the 2015 ALDS, but if it that were the case that would be pretty lame. There’s plenty of interesting takes on this, so read up and let me know what you think. (My favorite part was Adrian Beltre’s ability to calmly and successfully restrain Bautista throughout the entire scrum. Dude commands a good bit of respect, eh?)
  • Like me, you’ll probably be extremely happy to learn that Starlin Castro is thriving with his new team in New York. Before Sunday’s game, Castro rode an eight-game hitting streak (the longest for the Yankees this season) and was called the team’s most consistent hitter by manager Joe Girardi. The fans have reportedly taken to him quite well, too, and he’s felt right at home. Although he says he misses Anthony Rizzo, I can’t tell you how happy I was to read this article at the Chicago Tribune. Castro had long been my favorite Cub before being traded, and I’m glad to see him happy and doing well. Good for him.
  • In a nice long form piece, Andy McCullough recounts the inner turmoil that led to pitcher Dan Haren’s retirement from baseball (after finishing last season with the Chicago Cubs). Haren had long been one of the better pitchers in baseball, but his career (and velocity) trended downwards, like they tend to, especially in his latter years, though he was much younger than most when it started to happen. But still, it’s interesting to see how hard he was on himself and how much better he wanted to be. The line that stuck with me the most was “I was always on the verge of wanting to retire, because I never wanted to get released, just for the embarrassment of it.” Haren is a pretty fun/funny follow on twitter (@ithrow88) and I hope he gets to continue being a part of this game in whatever capacity that may be, if he wants it.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami