Behind The L Screen

A preview of the upcoming week in baseball.

First – Robinson Cano vs. the Yankees (Tue – Thu)

He’s baaaaaaack and if the reception at The Tonight Show was any indication New Yorkers will not soon forget about being jilted at the alter by the second baseman who bolted for the greener, as in dollars, pastures of the Emerald City. And how’s that working out so far? Cano’s stats are only so-so and the Mariners are toiling away at 10-14 already 5 out in the competitive A.L. West.

Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, the sorta/kinda rebranded Yankees are off to a fast start thanks to newcomers Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka. Which begs the question: is New York better off without Robinson Cano? Certainly if you were to poll Yankee fans today they would prefer the Ellsbury/Tanaka/McCann/Beltran platter over Cano. But things change and if Ellsbury goes on the DL with a hand and 4 days rest begins to wear on Tanaka then opinions will change. For now though, the Bronx isn’t burning.

But, honestly Yankee fans, why so much hate for Cano? The guy served you admirably for 9 years, barely taking a day off. So what if he didn’t always hustle down to first base? Can you really blame him for choosing more years and more money? What would you have done in his position? (Note: if you say you would take less money and less years to stay in New York because of the tradition of the Yankees then congratulations you’re a typical Yankee fan and you’re lying.)

Second – Carlos Gomez vs. The Cardinal Way (Mon – Wed)

Speaking of being misleading, The Milwaukee Brewers have the best record in baseball thanks to shamed PED myth maker Ryan Braun as well as oft-critizied outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has on several previous occasions come under attack for demonstrating what some call (see: McCann, Brian) a lack of respect for the game.

St. Louis is one of those old school franchises that prides itself on playing baseball the “right way”, the Cardinal Way, which is to say Chris Carpenter yelling at opposing hitters or the offseason signing of Jhonny Peralta, he of the 50 game Biogenesis suspension. Put simply, there isn’t a single MLB team that can be absolved of all wrongdoings and as this latest Pineda pine tar incident revealed, players will be allowed to bend the rules as long as they’re not overly obvious about it.

So there you have it Carlos Gomez, Amurica will only appreciate your general good will and generosity of spirit if the next time you pimp a home run you try to be less “flashy”* about it.

(*Flashy is a code word for hispanic because we all know that baseball fans, especially older folks and Mike Francesa callers, respond differently depending on who is doing the celebrating.)

Third – Charlie Blackmon vs. the New York Mets starting pitching (Thu-Sun)

The Rockies’ Blackmon is among the NL leaders in several statistical categories including average, hits, runs and stolen bases while the Mets young starting pitching, and Bartolo Colon, has kept them in the conversation far beyond the predictions of most pundits.

Here’s the thing with the Mets though, they don’t hit. Like close to worst in baseball besides the Astros and we’re not even sure if Houston isn’t intentionally vying for some sort of relegation to the minors. That being said, Colorado has been known to cure the common OPS and if the Mets offensive can start putting up some representative numbers then with their excellent starting pitching who knows how long they’ll be able to hover above .500 this season. Let’s give them at least until May 1st.

Home – Bryce Harper vs thumb surgery (until at least July)

It’s a well know fact that it’s impossible to criticize a player for a lack of hustle if they slide head first. Therefore, is it fair to blame Nationals manager Matt Williams for the injury that will keep Harper out of the lineup until the summer? Given the complicated history here it’s safe to say that whenever Harper does return he’ll continue to both mesmerize and befuddle with his reckless style of play.

Past Is Present – Albert Pujols vs Eddie Murray (record books)

Now that Albert has joined the 500 home run club, time to set his sights on passing a string of Hall of Famers including the next on the list switch hitting Murray. It’s remarkable to think that it only took Pujols 14 seasons to reach this historic plateau. Less remarkable when you factor in the unavoidable taint of the steroid era. Years from now, when all those overly righteous baseball purists have gone to that Ebbets Field in the sky and a lot of the known juicers like Bonds and McGwire will be granted access to Cooperstown which it’ll make it even easier to vote for a “guilt by association” user like Albert Pujols who has never tested positive for a banned substance yet who people suspect was enhancing due to his outrageous numbers and the fact that PEDs were as much apart of baseball as sunflower seeds and groin adjustments.

Pure Fantasy – Aroldis Chapman vs. Sports Journalists (not soon enough)

When Chapman’s face heals and he’s ready to petrify hitters once again with his +100mph fastball, here’s hoping he gets a chance to face every single sports journalist who was on the clock covering the NBA back in the mid-2000s yet chose to ignore Donald Sterling’s long, public history of discrimination and ignorance. I ride with Bomani Jones on this idea that it’s very convenient to pile on the Clippers owner today after he’s caught with his depends down but where was the outrage when he and his wife were snooping door to door slinging their prejudice around L.A?

Housing discrimination does not have the same sex appeal, or page views, as a tired, old married man blathering on to his much younger mistress about not being caught in public with younger, black men but this incident is no where near as damaging to the country as the ongoing socio-economic crisis rocking our cities. When Sterling does sell the Clippers all those hundreds of millions of taxable gains should be earmarked for improving the quality of our public schools because education, not salacious headlines and internet traffic, is how you promote tolerance and equality.