Call to the Pen: Cold Weather, Jay-Z the Agent and More

This is the weather forecast for the Mets’ series in Colorado this week:

denver weather

Doesn’t Thursday look beautiful? Spring hasn’t yet sprung for the Mets, who opened at home before going to Philadelphia. They played last weekend in snowy Minnesota; Sunday’s game was postponed due to inclement weather. Whether they will play their four-game series as scheduled in Colorado is uncertain, but unlikely.

I realize MLB scheduling is complex—teams want more home games in the summer and prefer home stands during holiday weekends—but let’s use some common sense here. Players shouldn’t have to dress like this.

I spoke with Peter Greenberg, a sports agent who represents many prominent Latin players, today and asked him about how his clients are handling the lower temperatures. He said it’s possible some young Latin players won’t have played in the cold until they reach the majors, as decisions about which minor leagues to send players to are sometimes based on the weather. Greenberg said that “typically Latin players don’t like playing in the cold,” but it’s something they must deal with, particularly this season. “There’s always a concern about injuries, especially with pitchers,” he said, referring to all players taking the field in colder temperatures. Performance and injury risk relative to the weather is nearly impossible to assess across the sport, but teams should be monitoring their players on a case-by-case basis.

Now that we’ve warmed up, let’s look at other noteworthy items from the first two weeks of the season:

  • The Fenway Park sellout streak came to an end last week at 820 games. Many believe the streak ended last season, when there were plenty of games in which Fenway was less than full, but it did not officially end in the eyes of Red Sox personnel until Wednesday.
  • Staying in Boston, rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., is believed to be the first player in Major League history to wear “Jr.” on his jersey. This past NFL season, Detroit receiver Titus Young added “Sr.” to his jersey after becoming a father.
  • Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers was one out away from a perfect game in his first start on April 2. As the internet exploded with Yu puns, I flipped to MLB Network for the final inning, only to see a base hit go through Darvish’s legs and up the middle with two outs. After reminding my girlfriend what a perfect game was, she said, “That would the most boring game to be at.”
  • Robinson Cano fired his agent, Scott Boras, and hired Jay-Z. The Yankees second baseman did this, presumably, so he could hang out with Jay-Z (below, left). I asked Greenberg about this move and he said nothing in the agency business surprises him. To become an agent you must apply for certification through the Players Association. It’s mostly paperwork, but you must have at least one client on a 40-man roster in order for your application to be processed. Jay-Z has that with Cano. Whether he had to sell his share of the Brooklyn Nets in order to represent baseball players in unclear, but he did so anyway because of a desire to represent NBA players.

cano jay-z

  • In the 7th inning of last Saturday’s game between the Mets and Marlins, Juan Pierre was called for interference for colliding with Mets catcher John Buck 10 feet from home plate, where the dirt meets the grass. Mets manager Terry Collins and the umpires said they’d never seen anything like it. Pierre scored the tying run but one of the base runners, whom Buck was attempting to throw out, was called out to end the inning. The Mets scored three in the bottom of the 7th and won 7-3.
  • Speaking of the unusual, Wednesday’s Nationals-White Sox game was delayed 15 minutes because the umpires were late. They said they were stuck in D.C. traffic.
  • Cue the jokes about Denard Robinson’s passing skills. The former Michigan quarterback threw out the first pitch at Tuesday’s Tigers game and it wasn’t pretty: The ball bounced well in front of home plate. This was shocking—say what you want about his accuracy as a passer; you can’t deny he has a strong arm—but not totally surprising. Remember John Wall’s attempt at a Nationals game? It is sort of amazing how these phenomenal athletes’ skills don’t always translate to other sports, even when it comes to something as simple as throwing a baseball. From a mechanics perspective, both Robinson and Wall seemed to hold on to the ball way too long. And for what it’s worth, Robinson will enter the NFL Draft as a wide receiver, not a quarterback. (Side note: While it was also unsuccessful, nothing will beat the T-Rex’s first pitch at a White Sox game in 2008.)
  • Perhaps you’ve already seen this, but it’s worth seeing again:

upton here

  • Equally great was Ryan Howard’s appearance on The Office earlier this month. Ryan Howard, the character, was named after the baseball player (the show takes place in Scranton, where the young slugger was playing for the Phillies’ minor league affiliate at the time the show started). Howard meets with Jim and Darryl to discuss marketing opportunities and read from his screenplay, The Big Piece. In the script, Howard, strengthened by a PED called “space dust,” must defeat the evil Space Yankees.

I’ll close on a sentimental note. The Cleveland Indians called up catcher Omir Santos from the minors last week. Santos holds a special place in my heart, as he hit a game-winning home run at Fenway Park in 2009, the first baseball game my girlfriend ever attended. Because of this, Omir is her favorite player, quite the distinction for a guy who has played in 15 games since that ’09 season.

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