Yeah, so it turns out this has actually been a pretty boring week for .gifs, what with the disappointing series split in Oakland and lack of true highlight plays and off days on Monday and Thursday and all of that. So, uh, here you go.
SI apparently just conducted their own poll of active major league players on this question (after the Men's Journal poll that found Young to be baseball's most underrated player), and, well, surprise! So now Craig's overheated on the matter:
What is the source of Young’s svengali-like power? I can get how people close to him — journalists, other players — can like the guy a whole hell of a lot, but why does it render them unable to view him objectively? Other players apart from maybe Derek Jeter don’t have this problem. Journalists and players who surround them see their strengths and weaknesses and assess them more or less fairly. But not Young. Woe be unto the person who dares suggest that Young is not one of the best players in the game and one of the best leaders to ever wear a uniform. If you say that Young is merely very good and has, at times, not been an ideal leader, you’re a hater.
The response will clearly be that I don’t get it. But really, I’m begging someone, anyone, to tell me what it is I don’t understand. What does Michael Young actually provide that causes a guy who gets MVP votes and kudos in total disproportion to his measurable accomplishments to be underrated? If it’s just leadership, why is he considered a leader when other players who have acted in exactly the same way he has (i.e. having little tantrums when asked to move off a position for a better player) considered selfish?
I honestly do not understand. And I apparently never will.
Two points that are worth adding here, I think:
(1) Young had a pretty good, arguably All-Star-caliber 2011 campaign, and depending on when this particular SI poll was undertaken and the responses were collected, you might be seeing some recency bias that tilts the results more in the direction of last year's successes than this year's failures.
(2) For all of the blogosphere's grousing about Michael Young's "episodes" and how they didn't reflect well on his reputed leadership qualities, the outcome of this poll seems to reflect a belief among Young's peers -- one that is certainly prevalent among the press, or those that are close to him on a regular basis -- that, yes, the intangible qualities are certainly there en masse, that their mere presence and unquantifiable nature render him underrated, and that he's certainly not viewed in a negative light among most major leaguers. In other words, the perception of his "leadership" within the game doesn't seem to have incurred any kind of serious or long-lasting hit.
And as for the I-want-out debacle of last winter, I suspect there are quite a few players within the game who, rationally/logically or not, actually empathized with Young given his position at the time, and who perhaps do so even now because they themselves fear the prospect of someday being in a similar position ... so, you know, there's that to chew on.
* * * * *
Some interesting stuff at the link, including Jason's rundown of why he feels MLB's delay in rendering a verdict on the Beras case was caused by other powerful entities within the game exerting pressure on the commissioner's office (to go along with their hope/intent of having the deal nixed altogether), some stuff on how the Rangers have acquired a dirty reptation in Latin America for their actions (real or rumored), and this capsule Jairo Beras scouting report:
All the market/league/signing bullshit aside, Beras is the real story here, a player so promising that one source suggested was the best amateur player in available in 2012. He has tremendous size and raw strength, standing 6’6’’ with room to add bulk to his already proportioned frame. His bat is his calling card, with 80-grade power potential, the type that is missing in the minors at the present. Middle-of-the-order monsters are missing from the minors, and the Rangers have recognized this inefficiency in recent years and have targeted this rare breed of talent in recent years.
The top of the power pyramid sits Beras, with his loose, righty swing capable of generating incredible leverage and tape measure shots. The power can stand with any raw talent in the baseball, and if he develops, can stand with any player in the game itself. The hit tool is a question mark, as most are at this level, but the swing is fluid and the hands work well, so it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Beras has a classic right field profile, with a 70-grade arm and good athleticism. He’s not a five-tool prospect, but his two loud tools are sonic booms, and if he develops as planned, he’s a super star in the Juan Gonzalez mold.
There are some people who think that the Rangers should trade for pitching and others who think that they should trade for another bat. What do you think? Should the Rangers trade for a bat? Or should they trade for pitching? If you think they should trade for pitching help, would you trade for another starter like Zach Greinke or for a relief pitcher who could backup Ogando and Feliz in the bullpen on days that neither of them are available?
If you think they should trade for a bat, do you think that they should pick up a DH or try to upgrade at another position? What about Carlos Lee Quentin? Would you like to see Carlos Lee Quentin in a Rangers uniform again? Who would you trade for him? If you don't give up Mike Olt, what else do you think the Astros Padres would take? We'll have to see what they do here.
What about catcher?
Speaking of which, what about Mike Napoli? Do you think that he will breakout in the second half or do you think he will stay in a slump like he has been in for almost the entire season? Is there another player who you think will break out more than Napoli or do you think he is the top breakout candidate on the roster for the second half? What about Michael Young? Do you think that Michael Young will hit .340 / .400 / .600 over the second half to bring his season slash line up to his career averages? Or do you think that his primary value will continue to be his leadership? We'll see what the second half holds with respect to these two players.
But what about the first half? Who was the biggest surpise of the first half? My controversial choice would be Robbie Ross. Who do you think was a bigger breakout star of the first half? Do you think that Craig Gentry deserves serious consideration or do you think that he does not because he isn't an everyday starter? Do you think that Mitch Moreland's injury disqualifies him from "biggest breakout" from the first half or is that unfair to hold that against him? Again, I think it was Robbie Ross, but that's just me. What do you think? Was there a bigger breakout star for the Rangers through the first half?
There are reports that the Rangers are just focused on returning to the World Series and not on home field advantage which neither the Rangers nor any AL club will have this year by virtue of losing the All Star Game. Do you think that the Rangers should be focused on home field advantage or should they just remain focused on getting to the World Series? Or do you think that this isn't the year that they should try to win the World Series?
Normally, I wouldn't cover an issue regarding minor leaguers I've never really heard of in a post about the World Series, but there seems to be a lot of discussion about Jairo Beras. MLB has ruled that the Rangers can have Beras and Beras can have his $4.5 million, but he has to sit out for a year. Do you think MLB got it right? Should they let him play now or is his punishment fitting for his crimes against baseball? Is what he did worse than steroids? Did you know that a minor leaguer who gets caught taking steroids gets a 50 game suspension? A year is more than 50 games. Is it fair to Beras? To the Rangers? Or do other teams have grounds to be really upset with the Rangers?
Jon Daniels says that the Rangers are going to stretch Neftali Feliz out as a starter again. Do you think that he should replace someone in the rotation or should he be in the bullpen like he was when he was AL Rookie of the Year? Just because the Rangers are stretching out Feliz as a starter during his rehab, that doesn't mean that he can't go back to the bullpen. What do you think that the Rangers are going to do with Feliz? If you were Jon Danels, what would you do with him? We'll see what the Rangers do with Feliz as the second half unfolds. A lot will depend on injuries.
Speaking of injuries, do you think that the Rangers have weathered the storm with respect to injuries in the first half or do you think that there will be more injuries to come in the second half?
Joey gave out letter grades for Rangers pitchers today. Who else has ever given out mid-season grades to baseball players? Who's grade is too high or too low? Do you think Joey should grade the position players too? Should Josh Hamilton get an A+++? Does Michael Young deserve extra credit for his leadership? We'll have to see if Joey gets around to grading the position players later today.
SS Jurickson Profar: Called home run before the game; near-elite pure hitter; remarkable bat speed; instincts for barrel-to-ball actions; recognizes pitches very well from both sides of the plate; ultra-competitive; followed Oscar Taveras in batting practice group; visible effort to match the insanely impressive BP session by Taveras; was talking to Peter Gammons during one of his cage cycles who opined that Profar was the top prospect in the game; I agreed; would have agreed regardless of which player he named because he’s Peter Gammons; Profar executed in game action; can shorten swing/alter approach; plays up to the level of competition around him; wouldn’t drown in majors now; shows easy power; 50/55 projection on tool at floor; role 7 player at peak; All-Star at major league level.
In honor of the ESPYs being on last night, here's probably the only bit from the ESPYs that I've ever found entertaining:
● Drew Davison has a bunch of nice-to-read rehab updates:
* Alexi Ogando, on the disabled list with a strained right groin, will throw one inning Thursday at Triple A Round Rock. He is then scheduled to throw two innings Saturday for Round Rock, and could join the Rangers when they open a two-game series at Oakland on July 17.
* Neftali Feliz, on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, will throw two innings Sunday at Round Rock, and is expected to remain with the Express for his next outing on July 18.
* Koji Uehara, on the disabled list with a strained right lat, will throw one inning Saturday at Round Rock.
* Mark Lowe, on the DL with a strained right intercostal muscle, is expected to throw his first bullpen session Friday in Seattle.
And, in case you missed it, here's the setup on the starting rotation going into the beginning of the second half:
Manager Ron Washington has his rotation for the second half of the season set. Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, and Matt Harrison will start the three games against the Mariners, the Rangers’ first series after the All-Star Break while Roy Oswalt and Colby Lewis will start in the two-game series against Oakland.
Colby Lewis, who was placed on the DL June 26 with tightness in his right forearm, will become the second starting pitcher to return to the rotation July 18 against Oakland. He threw a 37-pitch bullpen session before Saturday’s game against the Twins and will have another bullpen session at his Bakersfield home Tuesday.
● I dropped a couple of hundred words yesterday for ESPN on the second-half keys for the Rangers and such. Unfortunately, I screwed up my facts and mentioned that the Rangers had three starters on the DL going into the All-Star break when Derek Holland had, in fact, already made it back right before the break. Let that serve as a lesson to everyone to double-check even the simplest facts, because, sometimes, despite your best intentions, you screw up the easy stuff.
● In other news, I'm over 6,100 followers on Twitter. Thank you, #cookietalk fans.
● Joey Gallo is the greatest player in the history of professional baseball *:
Rangers 3B Joey Gallo with his eighth homer in his 17th Arizona League game. What a beast.— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 12, 2012
[* I've been cautioned by at least one Rangers minor league guru that, yes, there are perceptible holes in the swing, so nobody should commit the mistake of getting totally carried away with the AZL success, because there's a lot of work left to be done. Still, though, you like to think that the early tastes of success are beneficial from a developmental standpoint, in that they breed confidence and are obviously preferable to Gallo going out there and just absolutely floundering from the outset.]
● I won a very important one-on-one basketball game yesterday in-between writing the two halves of the current front page post. My dream of becoming the fake JJ Barea endures.
● Today's classic .gif:
Via a FSNSW press release that landed in my inbox a few minutes ago:
The Texas Rangers’ first half success on the field has been just as impressive on the local television front.
While the Rangers secured their best record ever at the All-Star break to lead the A.L. West, they also finished the first half of the season with the largest year-to-year growth in local television ratings to lead all MLB teams, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Rangers games on FOX Sports Southwest in the first half of the season averaged a 6.2 household rating in Dallas-Fort Worth, an 83 percent increase over last year through the same number of games.
The 6.2 season average is fifth best among MLB teams at the break behind the Detroit Tigers (8.6), Cincinnati Reds (8.4), St. Louis Cardinals (8.3) and Boston Red Sox (7.4).
During the first half, the Rangers logged eight of their all-time Top 10 ratings on FOX Sports Southwest, led by a record 10.7 on April 9 for Yu Darvish’s major league debut against the Seattle Mariners and followed by a 10.0 on April 24 and a 9.7 on April 25 vs. the New York Yankees.
The Rangers also have been the No. 1-rated program of the day in Dallas-Fort Worth 17 times this season, including 10 of their last 14 games on FOX Sports Southwest.
An average of 159,400 homes in Dallas-Fort Worth have tuned in to watch Rangers games on FOX Sports Southwest this season.
Heading into the second half of the season, the team is on pace to top its best season average rating ever on FOX Sports Southwest of 3.9 set in 2011.
They got that iPhone money, Jerry Jone money, FSNSW money ...
The ball is going so fast that everything else is practically stationary. Even the molecules in the air are stationary. Air molecules vibrate back and forth at a few hundred miles per hour, but the ball is moving through them at 600 million miles per hour. This means that as far as the ball is concerned, they’re just hanging there, frozen.
The ideas of aerodynamics don’t apply here. Normally, air would flow around anything moving through it. But the air molecules in front of this ball don’t have time to be jostled out of the way. The ball smacks into them hard that the atoms in the air molecules actually fuse with the atoms in the ball’s surface. Each collision releases a burst of gamma rays and scattered particles.
These gamma rays and debris expand outward in a bubble centered on the pitcher’s mound. They start to tear apart the molecules in the air, ripping the electrons from the nuclei and turning the air in the stadium into an expanding bubble of incandescent plasma. The wall of this bubble approaches the batter at about the speed of light—only slightly ahead of the ball itself.
ESPN has been in contact with its Sweet Spot blog network this morning, and we're apparently going to get access to Cover It Live for the rest of the season after all. Pretty sure the drops/.gifs will remain intact, as well.
So, if you hated ScribbleLive's weekend test run, there's a bright spot for you, I guess.
July 8th Update: We're back in business as of this afternoon. Many, many thanks to David Schoenfield and the rest of the powers that be at ESPN for making this possible.
Teixeira, after Friday night's game where he hit a go-ahead triple off Padilla:
“Game-winning hits always feel good,” he said, “but that one definitely felt good.”
“He doesn’t have too many friends in the game,” said Teixeira, who has called out Padilla before for throwing at batters’ heads. “Guy throws at people. Fact of the matter, I’m not saying anything that’s news.”
“In the NFL, he’d probably be suspended by (commissioner) Roger Goodell eight games or a whole season,” Teixeira said. “There’s only one guy in baseball. No one else does this. That’s the thing that is unbelievable to me.”
Upon learning of Teixeira's recent comments, Padilla unloaded on the Yankees' first baseman in a Spanish-language interview with NESN.com shortly after Saturday's 9-5 victory over New York. It's the first time that he's publicly responded to Teixeira.
"The problem is he talks about all the wrong things that others have done, but the things he's done –– against the Latinos [on the Rangers] –– he doesn't open his mouth about," Padilla said. "He once threatened me and said he was going to hit me with a bat and that's when we were playing on the same team.
"And then, he also had problems with Frank Francisco our closer back then. But he doesn't talk about that, does he? Then, of course, he goes on and makes those comments about me."
The bad blood stems from June 9, 2005, when Padilla –– then with the Phillies –– hit Teixeira once after the slugger homered. It lingered when they became teammates in Texas, when Teixeira reportedly pleaded with Padilla to ease off on the aggressiveness. Padilla said he continued pitching his way.
Over the past three years, the pair rarely crossed paths since they were in different leagues. From 2009 to 2011, Padilla pitched for the Dodgers while Teixeira shined with the Yankees.
Now that Padilla pitches for the Red Sox, the two have reunited and the issues have resurfaced. Although Padilla has plunked 107 batters over the course of his 14-year career, he's only hit one batter this season.
As a result of the low output, Padilla believes Teixeira has ulterior motives for attacking his reputation.
"I just think he's scared to face me," Padilla said. "I don't throw at people to hit them on purpose. I throw inside and I've always thrown inside. It's not my problem if the ball hits someone. I'm worried about throwing strikes and I'm going to keep playing my game."
In 18 career plate appearances against Padilla, Teixeira has been drilled three times. But Padilla insists that it's never been attributed to a personal vendetta, saying it was simply a byproduct of his aggressive pitching style.
"In this sport, as competitive ball players, we get pretty fired up," Padilla said. "So I think, maybe, [Teixeira] picked the wrong the profession. I think he'd be better off playing a women's sport."
So, yeah, you've got Padilla who has been involved in a lot of controversial stuff (the alleged DUI wreck in Nicaragua where his friend died, the alcoholism, texting on his phone during games in the dugout tunnel, the headhunting, etc.), and you've got Teixeira, who didn't get along with Ron Washington and, according to Padilla, treated some of the Latino players on the Rangers poorly (allegations which, knowing what I know about some of the more unsavory aspects of the Buck Showalter era, don't exactly surprise me).
I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this, or, for that matter, whether I'm even supposed to care.