MLB Strikes Out On Women's Issues
ALSO: HEY METS, WAIT TIL RONALD ACUNA, JR. ENDS HIS BATTING SLUMP
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This was not a good week for prospects, as the Marlins lost much-heralded Max Meyer to Tommy John surgery and 2022 amateur draft pick Druw Jones severely injured his shoulder during his first batting practice with the Diamondbacks after signing a contract worth upwards of $8 million. Both injuries will cost the players all of 2022 and much of 2023 as well . . .
While most players thrive in Denver but struggle on the road, Colorado shortstop Jose Iglesias is having the opposite experience; at last look, his home batting average was .245 but his road mark was .353 — not far below the record .362 Mike Kingery postyed away from home in 1994. Iglesias says he finds breaking balls on the road more predictable than the flat breaking pitches in the Mile High City. He’s taken a lot of advice from teammate Charlie Blackmon, a long-time Rockies star, and is starting to improve in home games too . . .
Weird stat of the week: entering play Friday, soon-to-be-traded Joey Gallo’s lifetime batting average was .201 but his career on-base percentage was .328 . . .
Since players on the IL can still be traded, don’t be surprised if the World Champion Atlanta Braves deal for Joc Pederson (Giants), an All-Star who hits left-handed, and/or right-handed slugger Jorge Soler, the 2021 World Series MVP now with the Marlins. Both are outfielders who could help defray the departure of starting left-fielder Adam Duvall, out for the year after wrist surgery . . .
Don’t look now but Atlanta’s Kyle Wright leads the National League in wins.
Organized Baseball Should Welcome Women, Treat Them With Respect
By Bill Thompson
I recently had the good fortune of attending a couple of baseball games. My schedule makes this really difficult at most times now, but within the span of a week, I went to see a Lake Country DockHounds game and a Milwaukee Brewers game.
I had fun at both, but I usually have fun at a baseball game. There were a lot of women present at both of these games, so much so that it’s almost as if women are an active part of the baseball community.
The last sentence is equal part jest and frustration. Of course, we all know that women are an important part of the fabric of baseball. They have been since the formation of the sport and they will be until the day that the support ceases to exist. Unfortunately, as obvious as it may be to anyone with common sense that women are an integral part of baseball, it’s still far too common that they are treated like second-class citizens by professional baseball organizations the world over.
Recently, Major League Baseball had to send out a memo to their member clubs informing them that it is a requirement that equally accessible locker-room space be provided to female staffers and team personnel. This is only a couple of years after MLB had to send out the same memo to all of their affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs.
It’s the year 2022 and MLB is having to send out these memos because some teams aren’t giving adequate space to female staffers. There’s no reason for this to be the case. Every stadium should have ample space for there to be a men’s and women’s locker room, for both teams, umpires, etc.
Then there is the issue of players like Sam Dyson, Marcell Ozuna, Yasiel Puig, Roberto Osuna, Addison Russell, Josh Lueke, and others. These are all players who have all either perpetrated domestic violence or sexual assault towards women.
Yes, it is true that in the cases of most of these men either charges were not filed or they were abandoned at some point in the process. We all know that victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault often walk back their accusations for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with the validity of the assault or abuse having occurred.
Yet, professional teams, and leagues, in America, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and on down the list have looked at these players and said, play baseball for us, please.
The rebuttal that is usually made to teams signing these players is that they have the right to earn a living. Yes, they very much do. But, don’t female fans or staffers have the right to attend games and work for organizations without having to feel like their existence as a woman is being ignored?
It’s bad enough that they are having to deal with inadequate facilities, but to be told that they need to just accept an abuser being on their favorite team or the team they work for is the highest form of hubris.
Addison Russell can go earn a living pumping gas somewhere. At the end of the day, playing professional baseball is a privilege and it is incumbent on every professional baseball organization to keep that privilege from some. It’s a privilege that shouldn’t be given to abusers at the expense of female fans and staffers.
It’s no secret that women’s rights, in America at least, have taken a hit this year. Baseball isn’t, and never will be, a remedy for what women are going through in their everyday lives. However, it should be a place where they can feel welcome and not have to worry about when the next abuser will take the mound or step up to the dish.
It’s clear that professional baseball across the board continues to fail women. It’s clear that women want to continue to support the sport and be involved at every level.
It’s high time that professional baseball does the same and supports women by offering them the same level of inclusivity that men receive and creates a less toxic environment for women overall.
Bill Thompson is a father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer for Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; and freelance writer at various online and print publications. He is also a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.
When Slump Ends, Ronald Acuña Could Power Braves To NL East Crown
By Dan Schlossberg
Even the best players have slumps. It’s just that Ronald Acuña, Jr. never had one this bad and this long.
Suffice to say the Atlanta Braves remain second in the National League East mainly because their normally-productive leadoff hitter has been a mere shadow of his former self. For weeks.
Over a 33-game stretch through Thursday, Acuña hit only .209 with two home runs and a pedestrian .583 OPS (on-base plus slugging). That followed a .316, six-homer stretch in his first 31 games back after serious knee surgery (he torn his ACL while trying to catch a Jazz Chisholm, Jr. drive on July 10, 2021).
He’s gone from bad to worse, with a .186 mark in his last 17 games prior to a weekend home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s had one home run, four runs batted in, 21 strikeouts, and a .257 slugging percentage as his slump deepened.
Even Atlanta teammate Max Fried, the last pitcher to win a Silver Slugger in the National League, could hit better.
The slump was an unpleasant surprise for the Braves, who are now playing without injured regulars Ozzie Albies (fractured foot) and Adam Duvall (broken wrist). The former might be out til Labor Day, while the latter is down for the year.
Asked about Acuña, manager Brian Snitker was optimistic.
“I think at any point in time he can get a couple of hits and feel good, then get on a run,” said the manager, who just recorded his 500th career victory. “He really hasn’t done that. When he does, it could be really good. Because he’s gonna do it. He’s gonna work through this.”
Coincidence or not, Acuña’s skid coincided with the injury to Albies, his closest friend in baseball. The pint-sized second baseman fractured his left foot in a June 13 game against the Nationals while trying to get out of the batter’s box on wet turf.
The fans certainly remember Acuña, the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year. They made the Venezuelan outfielder the top vote-getter for the 2022 All-Star Game.
He thanked them by delivering a hard-hit double down the third-base line during the first inning of the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium July 19 — less than two months after his earlier-than-scheduled April 28 return.
With virtually no production from Acuña, the Braves dropped two of three games against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies, who had just been swept at home by the struggling Chicago Cubs [to be fair, bad pitching by Charlie Morton and A.J. Minter helped too].
When he’s right, the 24-year-old Acuña is among the best players in the sport. He just missed a rare 40/40 season in 2019, when he finished with 41 home runs and 37 stolen bases — despite a last-week injury that curtailed his running game.
He has a 162-game average of .278 with 40 homers, 95 runs batted in, and 35 stolen bases.
Snitker rested Acuña Wednesday, when the Braves completed a three-game road trip in Philadelphia. With an off-day Thursday, the idea was to give the hard-driving youngster a two-day respite designed to recharge his batteries.
The manager is also looking ahead to a five-game series against the arch-rival New York Mets that begins next Thursday at CitiField. The Braves need Acuña to be in top form against New York’s formidable pitching trio of Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Taijuan Walker.
A right-handed hitter with both power and speed, Acuña could always confound opponents by bunting against the shift and stealing his way into scoring position for RBI men Matt Olson and Austin Riley. His problem, like that of most of his Atlanta teammates, is constantly trying to hit balls over outfield walls.
The team does lead the league in home runs but also ranks first in strikeouts by hitters.
If the slump continues, Sniker could shake up his lineup, as he did Wednesday. Rookie center-fielder Michael Harris II has speed and power too and is a potential lead-off type. Dansby Swanson has also hit out of the first position this year.
Since Harris is a left-handed hitter, batting him first might jump-start the homer-happy Braves offense. Swanson, who bats right-handed, could still bat second, followed by the lefty-hitting Olson and right-handed slugger Riley. Such an alignment would move Acuna down to the fifth spot, where he’d often bat with men on base ahead of him.
Hey, whatever works.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is just back from the All-Star Game and Hall of Fame Inductions, which he covered for forbes.com and Sports Collectors Digest. He also writes for USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Latino Sports, and other outlets. Contact him by e.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Mets, continuing to get a jump on the Aug. 2 trade deadline, did well to land lefty-hitting outfielder Tyler Naquin from the payroll-paring Reds . . .
Angels trade bait Shohei Ohtani, a righty pitcher but lefty hitter, entered the weekend with 21 homers (after hitting 46 last year) and a pitching record of 9-5 with a 2.80 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings . . .
When the Yankees blanked the Royals Thursday, it was Kaycee’s third straight runless game and 13th this year, one behind Detroit for worst in the majors . . .
Ex-Royal Andrew Benintendi went 0-for-4 in his Yankees debut but HAS to be better than Joey Gallo, the man he succeeded in left field for New York . . .
In a potential swap of bad contracts, would weak-hitting Arizona swap veteran lefty Madison Bumgarner, an Atlanta native and great post-season pitcher, to the Braves for DH Marcell Ozuna?
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