Stop me if you’ve heard this one: It’s April 7 and an exciting young Cubs player is going after a ball that the centerfielder is also tracking. The two players collide and one remains on the ground while millions of fans wait for a signal that it’s okay to breathe again.
Kyle Schwarber went down in Arizona in the third game of the 2016 season and it was Javy Baez who stopped hearts Friday night in Milwaukee. They were very different situations, to be sure, but the schema established by the former was immediately applied in the case of the latter. Then there’s the whole issue of Baez going headfirst into the play and getting a Jason Heyward forearm to the temple.
I mean, have you seen Heyward? We’re talking 240 pounds of lean mass moving with the speed of a gazelle. Taking a shot across the brow from one of his arms would be like climbing into the ring and having Hacksaw Jim Duggan crack a patriotic 2×4 over your dome with a loud “Hoooo!”
Or, as it was in this case, “Nooo!”
“As soon as I turned I saw J-Hey right in my face,” Baez told reporters after the game. “I couldn’t see what hit me until I watched the video. (That’s) a really big man coming. I kinda saw him 3-D in my face.
“Everything’s good, everything’s fine, ready to play again tomorrow. I was ready to stay in the game, but my eye was getting really swollen so Joe decided to take me out.”
Baez looked good after the game save for a little mouse above his left eye that could’ve passed for the remnants of an MMA training session. Such a mark is befitting the do-everything breakout star, though Javy’s style does at times beg the question of whether he’s trying to do too much.
I’m looking for a way to couch this take so as to prevent some of the flames from licking up and singeing your fingertips as you scroll through my words on your mobile device, so I apologize if I’m not able to do so. I just can’t help but see a little Kelly Leak in Javy’s game, both the good and the bad. He plays with abandon bordering on reckless and there are times when it seems he thinks he’s the only one who can or should make the play.
This isn’t about bat flips and no-look tags, but more about trying to get to every ball and failing to understand that discretion really is the better part of valor in some cases. It’s not the hot-dogging I worry about, it’s the stuff we saw Friday night. Javy’s loud enough that we’ll still be able to hear him with the volume turned down a tad. We’ve seen him rein in the swing already, now it’s a matter of channeling the rest of his game without losing what it is that makes him, him.
Otani rumors swirl again
Easily the hottest commodity this side of Tim Tebow not already playing in the majors, Shohei Otani has been the subject of much intrigue over at least the last year or so. The Japanese pitcher/outfielder is being tagged as the second coming of Babe Ruth and was set to command a massive contract when he was able to come stateside.
Until, that is, changes to the CBA placed severe restrictions on his earning power. Speculation swirled as to whether he’d be willing to accept what would amount to a pittance just to ply his trade at the sport’s highest level or whether MLB and the players union would be willing to bend the rules.
But as Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim reports, the two-way superstar may not even care about the money. Nor does he have a preferred destination, or so Otani claims at this point. If you’ve been following this saga with any regularity over the past few months, most of macro points in the piece will be familiar to you. It does get a little more granular, though, so it’s worth a look.
Here’s a snippet, but be sure to check out the whole thing.
And odds are good that, soon, you will be able to do just that. Ohtani is coy when asked directly, but even the Fighters’ executives admit that this will likely be his final season in Japan. Then he’ll head to the majors and try to become the first player in a century—since a guy named Babe Ruth—to take his spot as both a pitcher in the rotation and a hitter in the everyday lineup.
While Ohtani doesn’t yet have an agent, he has the good sense not to eliminate potential bidders. He professes no preferred franchise or market. “I actually need to learn more about MLB,” he says. “I would like to be there when the talks are happening.” Of the American League versus the National, Ohtani will say only, “There’s good to both; it’s very hard to choose at this point.”
Depending on a team’s revenues and pool money, the signing bonus falls between $4.75 million and $10 million. Worse, these players must accrue six years of service before they are eligible for free agency. All may not be lost, though. Multiple sources tell SI that there could be loopholes that allow Ohtani to avoid this cap. Still, his decision to stay in Japan this season may have cost him more than $100 million.
Ohtani shrugs. “As long as I have enough money to be able to play baseball and am enjoying baseball,” he says, “that’s all I’m asking for right now.” This is more than lip service: Ohtani is not exactly Babe Ruth’s equal in the Department of Sybaritic Living. Fighters sources say that Ohtani spends virtually nothing, lodging at the drab team dorms and reportedly living on less than the $1,000 a month his parents send him from his earnings. He takes team-subsidized cabs to games. He seems to spend mostly on fitness books and workout equipment. Depending on the sponsor that night, the Fighter Player of the Game will sometimes receive free bags of rice or salmon steaks or stalks of asparagus; Ohtani will happily take them, figuring it’s one less run to the grocery store.
More news and notes
- Rich Hill has been placed on the 10-day DL with a blister on his middle finger
- This could endanger his custom kitchen deliveries
- I want my MTV
- The Cubs have released several videos detailing the work at Wrigley
- MLB has changed the way pitch velocity is measured, though Jake Arrieta’s early results don’t quite mesh with the tweaks