The Tuesday Takeaway
Trying to come up with a lede for a section about Tuesday night’s fracas between Manny Machado and Yordano Ventura is like trying to herd angry wolverines. Any attempt at humor will fall flat. What’s important is that what happened in Baltimore was stupid. Flat-out stupid.
Yordano Ventura is a hothead. He’s started more than a few bench-clearing incidents over the last few years because of his temper and over-inflated sense of toughness. Manny Machado also has a bit of a capacity for furor, as evidenced by his ridiculous incident with Josh Donaldson. So, when Ventura pitched Machado tight inside in his first plate appearance of the night, and the two barked at each other after Machado popped out, things were going to get bad.
Lo and behold, Ventura drilled Machado in the back his next time up. Things escalated quickly from there.
Look, we’re not going to sit here and give you the play-by-play of the “fight.” Even though Major League Baseball is apparently totally okay with using the fight as promotional material for the game, there will be suspensions handed out for this. Fights are bad. They’re against the rules. This fight in particular is incredibly dumb.
Ventura hit Machado because he’s manlier than Machado, or something. I dunno. Maybe there was some sort of honor to defend. Maybe the spirits of his ancestors had been wronged. Maybe there was a freak muscle spasm and total lapse of sanity that caused a spectre of Armando Benitez to appear that told Ventura to plug a projectile into Machado’s body at nearly 100 mph. Whatever the reason was, it wasn’t a good one.
The Royals’ right-hander wasn’t having a good night. It’s never a good night when Ryan Flaherty of all people takes you out to Eutaw Street and one-hops the warehouse. That’s just a bad night at the office. But a bad night of the office isn’t justification for aiming a ball of cork, string and hide at another person’s body at nearly 100 mph. There are unwritten rules for beanballs. A batter shows up the pitcher by flipping his bat? Better bean him the next time up. It’s still stupid, but at least there’s a dogmatic reason for it. Ventura hit Machado because, well, screw you.
This is not an acceptable reason to throw something that hard at another human being, believe it or not. For more on this subject, let’s go to Adam Jones.
Jones on Ventura: "He wants to be Pedro Martinez? Cool. Be Pedro Martinez. Have a damn sub-two like Pedro Martinez." #Orioles #Royals
— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) June 8, 2016
Suspensions will be handed down soon enough, and this will quickly be a barely remembered footnote in one transcendent player's career. But for Ventura, it represents a chance to wise up and get his act together. There’s only so many times his teammates will be willing to run out onto the field and clean up his mess.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
Adam Duvall hit 30 home runs in A-ball in 2012. That’s pretty good by any measure. He did it while hitting right-handed and playing third base, which made it even more impressive. His unsightly glove work and questionable hit tool took some of the luster off his stock, however, so Duvall was never a highly noted prospect. He found himself in Cincinnati following the Mike Leake trade, and has since become the left fielder for the Reds. Adam Duvall was never supposed to be much more than a placeholder.
This was, of course, before the Reds knew that he would start hitting every single baseball into the stands. Since the start of May, Duvall has hit 15 home runs. He is now hitting .270/.303/.622, because baseball makes no sense whatsoever. Diamondbacks prospect Peter O’Brien could not be reached for comment at this time.
Seeing as this is Baseball Prospectus, and a big part of our shtick is informing the readers about the various exciting young rising stars in the game, here is your Julio Urias update.
Urias was tasked with facing the Rockies on Tuesday. He pitched four innings, giving up three hits and one run while striking out seven, all but one achieved on fastballs. This is a vast improvement from his past outings, in which he was bombarded like the Bastille. Urias is still a work in progress, and four innings is generally a fair bit less than what most managers want from their starting pitchers, I discussed Urias at length in a previous contribution to the What You Need To Know series, so go check that out if you want some philosophical musings on life, the universe and Julio Urias.
It should be noted that this is a very large step in the right direction for the young southpaw. The Rockies are hardly a force of nature, but seven strikeouts in four innings is something to be proud of. The road remains long and treacherous for Urias. The journey will be long and fraught with peril.
At the end lies stardom, hopefully. Or absolute failure, or something in between. Sports are hard.
Let’s talk about the Twins. No, don’t go, come back.
So, the Twins. They’re not a particularly good team. They lack good players, and some of their better players from last year are underperforming. Take Brian Dozier, for example.
Last year, and the year before that, Dozier provided solid offense and reliable power as a second baseman. He was an above-average hitter both years. Though he didn’t hit for high average, Dozier offered a potent power-speed skill set from a middle infield position. There’s value there. This season, Dozier has hit just .211/.301/.367. As the Twins have fallen off the face of the Earth, so too has Dozier.
There are few reasons for excitement in Minnesota on the big-league roster. The Twins sit in last place, their flame kept alight only by the resurgence of favorite son Joe Mauer and the hope of a small army of prospects one day rising to the challenge of saving the team. For one night, Dozier once again gave Twins fans something else to be excited about.
His walk-off homer won’t matter very much in the long run. The Twins are bad, and will stay bad. But for those watching at the ballpark, and for those at home, those who may have needed just a little something special, there was Brian Dozier, harkening back to the last few years.
Today, the Twins will be bad again. They will be bad tomorrow, and on the day after tomorrow. There is no joy in Mudville. For one night, Dozier changed the story. And that indeed is the magic of sports, if there is any magic at all in this godawful field of broken hope and heel turns by athletes that we adore.
Defensive Play of the Day
Great art needs no introduction. It is presented, and the viewer immediately appreciates the gravity of what he is seeing. Great art captivates us and whisks us away on flights of fancy, or forces us to the ground and holds a gun to our head while we fork over our wallets and preconceived notions of the subject matter. Great art needs no introduction.
And now, if you’ll follow your tour guide to the next wing of the building…
What to Watch on Wednesday
You’re going to watch the Yankees today. “Why in the world would I do that?” you ask in horror.
Because, you see, the starting pitchers in tonight’s Yankees/Angels game are Nathan Eovaldi and Jered Weaver. Eovaldi throws harder than any other starter, and Weaver’s first pitch of the season has only just now found the catcher’s mitt. If a punter and a linebacker had an arm wrestling competition, you’d watch. If Bartolo Colon faced off with a heavyweight boxing champion, you’d watch. This is that kind of event.
At the same time, you’ll be watching the Mets and Pirates on another screen, or recording it on your DVR. Noah Syndergaard is pitching, and that’s reason enough, but top prospect Jameson Taillon will at long last be making his debut for the Buccos. He’s missed most of the last two years to injury, but Taillon is still a strong and intriguing, and demands your attention. He could be a big part of the Pirates going forward.
Once you’re done reveling in your East Coast Bias, go check out Carlos Carrasco and the Indians play Taijuan Walker and the Mets. Or, if you refuse to abandon large-market East Coast teams, the Red Sox will be sending David Price to the mound to deal with Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco. It’s entirely up to you.
Thank you for reading
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