The Big Thing
Ramon Laureano is going to get suspended for running at the Houston dugout, bringing about a benches-clearing brouhaha in Sunday’s A’s-Astros game. No one is going to argue about that. Laureano deserves punishment.
The only consolation is that he is now a folk hero across the sport.
The real question is how many games Laureano will be suspended by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
And, more importantly, what kind of punishment Manfred will hand down to Astros bench coach Alex Cintron, who egged on Laureano from the dugouts and then cowardly jumped out of the way when the A’s outfielder fulfilled his request?
I’m not expecting much. Hoping for competence or logic from Manfred is a fool’s errand.
I’d love to be wrong, though. I’d love justice to be served against the Astros just once this year.
The problem is that the Astros are, in mob parlance, “made” men.Manfred has shown he will go above and beyond to protect them. They’re the villains in this story, but they are treated like princes.
The team stole signs via illegal outfield cameras, an algorithm built by the front office, and trash cans. Manfred granted the players immunity for their testimony, an incredibly daft decision that showed Manfred is a labor lawyer and not someone who has ever been involved in criminal law.
Then, two weeks ago, Manfred protected the Astros again, when Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly’s lack of command cleared the benches in Houston. Manfred handed Kelly an over-the-top eight-game suspension. Kelly’s appeal is still pending, but if the eight-game ban is upheld, it’s the equivalent of 21 games in this shortened, 60-game schedule.
So what’s Laureano going to get? The wheel of “justice” will be spun and we’ll find out on Monday. Again, don’t expect logic to be applied to the process.
But whatever Laureano receives, Cintron deserves double.
Laureano might have messed up by taking Cintron’s bait, but it was Cintron who instigated the fight. The Astros hitting coach — who, for the record, didn’t hit much in his major league career — was seen clearly telling Laureano to come and fight him, going as far as to step out of the dugout and hike up his pants. He was telling Laureano that he was ready to rumble.
Laureano called his bluff.
By the time the A’s outfielder reached the dirt around the Astros dugout, Cintron had executed a step-back move that would make James Harden envious — he never even joined the pile.
Cintron shouldn’t be suspended for being a coward; that’s just something he’ll have to live with. But Manfred should hand down a severe punishment to the punk for being an instigator while holding a position of power on a baseball team.
It’s one thing for players to jaw and fight. Laureano had been hit by a pitch three times in the A’s sweep over the Astros . He had a right to be mad at Houston, and that’s beyond the sign-stealing stuff.
But the coaches are supposed to be the “adults in the room” and this “adult” was challenging a kid to a fight.
If the Astros had any sense of shame or decency, Cintron wouldn’t be employed by the team come Monday. But they don’t, so it’s Manfred’s job to rectify the problem.
It’s a shame that he’s unlikely to do anything of consequence.
The Astros will get away with it again.
The good news for the A’s is that while they’re likely to lose their best hitter so far this season to what will surely be an arbitrarily long suspension, they have plenty of cushion atop the AL West standings.
Oakland’s three-game sweep of those cheats from Houston was their ninth straight victory overall. They’re now up 5.5 games on the Asterisks in the standings.
What we learned
Collin Morikawa is the star golf needs… The former Cal Bear won his first major Sunday at TPC Harding Park, which was a spectacular venue for the PGA Championship. I wrote up my thoughts on Morikawa here. Suffice it to say, though, that he’s the kind of person and golfer everyone should try to emulate. And I felt preposterously fortunate to have been an eyewitness to his tee shot and eagle putt on the 16th. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.
Giants 2 – Dodgers 6… The fans have already turned on Gabe Kapler for his bullpen management, but at what point do I stop giving him the benefit of the doubt? A big part of me thinks that he has so little work with in his bullpen that any decision he makes in relation to pitching will be an automatic mistake, but do the mistakes have to be this glaring?… Saturday, Kapler’s decision to keep Johnny Cueto in the game, despite having lost his no-hitter and the fact that the pitcher clearly picked up a foot injury earlier in the game was baffling. The Giants are lucky they still won that contest. Sunday, his decision to give Kevin Gausman — who was dealing — an early hook to go to Tyler Rodgers (enough with the Tyler Rodgers — the quirk has worn off) was equally puzzling… A manager can lose in two easy steps: lose the fans and then lose the clubhouse. Kapler has completed one of these steps, and if he keeps making pitching changes that backfire on him, I question how long it will be before the clubhouse turns on him, too… We’re 17 games into this season and it’s become painfully obvious why Philadelphia fired Kapler after two years. Ultimately, so long as Farhan Zaidi can still pull Kapler’s strings, he won’t be on the hot seat.
Madison Bumgarner was shelled again… The former Giants ace has been throwing batting practice as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Zaidi might not look all that bright for his managerial choices, but his decision to let Bumgarner walk — or, at least to not pay him the salary he wanted — is looking good. Bumgarner’s fastball doesn’t even touch 90 miles per hour now and he’s never been a good enough mixer of pitches to overcome a lack of stuff… Arizona is claiming he’s injured. I don’t buy it for a second. They’re just saving face after they guaranteed $85 million to a left-handed and less effective version ofMike Fiers… Maybe Bumgarner should switch back to the rodeo.
Draymond Green fined $50,000 by the NBA for tampering… He truly is the second coming of Magic Johnson. Green’s comments, which were so clear-cut the NBA had no choice but to fine him, are what make him a great broadcaster. He’s fearless. He’s also a baseball genius who can break down the game in ways that have made me smarter (easier said than done) for the last six years. This is why I always Stand for Draymond.
Meanwhile. This sort of analysis is excellent pic.twitter.com/nY1vEj10qr
— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) August 9, 2020
College football isn’t going to happen… And while, yes, it’s the fault of COVID-19, we really should blame the fact that the college and conference administrators didn’t put together a cogent plan for returning to play during the nearly six months they had to do so… Now exploited players are demanding representation in the process and these schools and leagues would rather shut it all down then give their workforce a say, much less a union… College football. It’s truly the most American sport.
• So much for that V-shaped recovery. One-third of American renters are expected to miss their August payment. [Bloomberg]
• How the Fruitvale district in Oakland became the COVID hotspot [BANG]
• David DeBolt exposing bad cops… what’s new? [BANG]
What to watch
Giants at Astros, 6:10 p.m…. If that punk Alex Cintron is on that bench, I demand Gabe Kapler puts his preposterous physique to work and challenge him to a pushup contest.
A’s at Angels, 6:40 p.m… The A’s might be the best team in baseball, and they could win their 10th straight game Monday night. Until they lose, they are must-see TV.
Brockmire… It’s a good show that I started watching on Hulu this weekend. Baseball and dirty jokes — a wonderful combination.
Dan Carter was a reporter for nomad Labs, before becoming the lead editor. Dan has over forty bylines and has reported on countless stories concerning all things related to tech and science. Dan studied at CSUF.