When I googled “Yermín Mercedes” earlier this afternoon to see whether there were any updates regarding his 3-0 swing and triumphant moonshot off a similarly constructed, similarly postionless player in Willians Astudillo on Monday night, I was met with a bunch of stories citing a bunch of tweets explaining why nobody should be upset that Mercedes homered on a 3-0 swing off a similarly constructed, similarly positionless player.
When it came to what was causing the rush to Mercedes’ defense, I could only find a single source: the Twins broadcast:
When I realized it was Roy Smalley, I automatically started thinking about his condition instead.
… but you’d be easily irritated if you had to deal with his condition. pic.twitter.com/JLEkWRI5k9— Jim Margalus (@SoxMachine) May 18, 2021
Others on the other side weren’t happy, either. Jomboy said that Astudillo had something to say about it, which Mercedes partially corroborated by acknowledging the existence of words. But the Twins have plenty of other problems, so nothing about Mercedes’ blast surfaced after the game.
The stranger sight/sound came from the White Sox dugout, with Tony La Russa flailing his arms in anger while Mercedes rounded the bases, followed by a sighting of Adam Eaton potentially counseling Mercedes.
Sure enough, of all the people who could’ve taken offense to Mercedes’ swing, La Russa appears to be the most incensed of all.
Perhaps La Russa isn’t the right guy to discuss consequences, or disagreements with family, but La Russa isn’t the right guy for a lot of reasons. Yet here he is.
He had managed to avoid this territory until now, speaking glowingly of everybody and everything during spring training, and handling a couple of Mercedes’ late arrivals in a way that was relatively responsible. Perhaps this reaction is less about disrespecting the game and more about Mercedes not following La Russa’s instructions in multiple areas, rather than just report times. But considering what he’d said about Fernando Tatis Jr.’s similar swing ….
In the past week, La Russa had conversations with friends in the game who agreed with Tatis’s actions and those who didn’t. La Russa believed Tatis was in the wrong. If Tatis took a strike, La Russa reasoned, he still would have had two pitches to hit. Swinging 3-0, in his line of thinking, was attacking at a moment when the opponent was vulnerable, more for personal reasons than needed team gain.
“It’s just not sportsmanlike,” La Russa said. “The way it was described to me was, it’s team against team. That’s what our sport is, with these very talented individuals matching up. What it isn’t, though, is an exhibition of your talents. You swing 3-0 in that game, and you’re up by seven, you’re trying to drive in more runs.”
… you’re free to assume he’s at best out of step with the times, and left to hope there aren’t any corrosive effects.
I suppose I’m most surprised that an inning where a catcher is throwing eephus after eephus is a form of the game that deserves to be respect, when it has all the markings of a spectacle that somebody with Mercedes’ talents ought to be free to contribute to. Indeed, Mercedes still doesn’t see anything wrong with what he did:
Back when La Russa was introduced as the White Sox’s old new manager, he tried to soften his previous stance against on-field exuberance by saying it was fine as long as it was “sincere.” Well, Mercedes seems very sincere about hammering 47-mph floaters as far as humanly possible, does he not? Alas, as a lot of would have guessed, Mercedes’ sincerity doesn’t seem to count.
(Photo by Jordan Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)
so… should I start crowdfunding the “Fire La Russa” billboard, or?
Yermin can be the player-manager.
A Mets blogger young enough to be La Russa’s grandfather summed it up well:
do you mean grandson, or is there still a surviving Civil War vet around somewhere?
Indeed, my senility (as someone who remembers Sox managers before LaRussa) coming to the fore!
I made 2 comments in another thread that bear repeating here.
In response to LaRussa’s comments, “Bullshit. And I’m sorry we don’t have a manager who recognizes this.”
Concerning Eaton, Yermin’s response should have been, “Talk to me when you’re leading the majors in hitting and you’re eating a Spanky Burger.”
I’d suggest a similar response to LaRussa, but unfortunately he holds the power of the lineup card over Mercedes.
Of all the stupid things to potentially lose a clubhouse over, I can think of none stupider.
Where’s Drake when we need him? This moment demands a leader.
If McEwing’s sign was “take” on the 3-0 pitch, then TLR has got a point. Otherwise, no, TLR is wrong. We have seen many games in the last five years when our position players finished blow-outs and got blown out themselves. Neither Renteria or Ventura complained. There is no mercy rule. This is professional sports. Astudillo is trying to get an out; Mercedes is trying to get a hit. If it were otherwise, then baseball would be corrupt.
The problem is there was no time to look down at mcEwing. The turtle was throwing the ball as soon as the catcher tossed it back to him.
Just a horrible look for LaRussa all the way around. If he feels something needs to be said or done, then do quietly and privately. But he’s making something out of absolutely nothing. Just stunned. He completely trashed him in public and for what? Because the cry baby Twins broadcasters were irked?
Anytime a team trots out a position player to pitch, it’s disrespecting the game. When they strike out a hitter and he laughs, does the team apologize? This is a game played by professionals who are paid to compete. This is so god damn irritating I can’t stand it.
Completely agree, however, I’m hoping Tony is making public outrage to prevent Twins from throwing at him. With all the injuries we’ve had, don’t need bean-ball. Tony would have ordered a hit, so maybe he’s assuming opposing manager would as well.
I don’t think there was anything strategic about his message. This screams “Old Man Yells at Cloud” vibes 100%.
You are probably right, but they did throw at him today
Exactly. He probably made it more of an issue the way he publicized it. His reaction just fueled a that really wasn’t going.
LaRussa was letting the Twins know Mercedes was on his own, don’t hit somebody else like Anderson or Moncada. As far as throwing at someone goes that pitch was pretty tame (behind the knees) and I believe that was because LaRussa went public before the game saying they had a talk and he won’t do it again.
Also, let’s not forget Mercedes swung at a 3-0 pitch when his manager told him not to. Defying your boss is never a good look.
It’s like TLR made a list of all things people said he’d do wrong and he’s going down that list and checking them off one by one
Yes. I remember debating this in the winter with another poster. I outlined a few different ways I thought the TLR hire could go wrong. I have to say I’m surprised at how quickly he’s brought multiple of these different ways to fruition.
Well this was inevitable and predictable. And I still fail to understand how sending out a beer league thrower against major league baseball players is “respecting the game” and “respecting the opponent”
I’ll take this seriously when someone tells me that Rocco and the Twinkies had told the Sox dugout that they would not try to score any more runs. Until then, it’s a game and both sides are trying to win.
Also, Astudillo pitching is, arguably, disrespecting the game.
What about Mercedes disrespecting his manager by swinging when he was told to take?
It’s been proposed before: teams should be allowed to forfeit. If you think the game is out of hand, just end it so we don’t have to deal with fiascos like this. Almost every time a club puts a position player on the mound, they’ve started the unwritten rules circus.
It’s a great feature of curling. It’s courteous to concede during blowouts in order to let the next game on the ice.
good point. although, it would create problems with last call for alcohol sales :/ (and dont we all get a kick out of watching position players pitch now and then?)
I would say this is disingenuous to the fans that showed up expecting a nine inning game but so is shortening a scheduled game to 7 innings so I say go for it.
Fire this fossil.
you mean the guy who’s guided the team to the best record in the league thus far, despite losing two of the biggest stars to injury…. if that’s not cause for firing, i’m not sure what is
He also lost the game last night, but sure let’s go with your narrative lol.
well, he won the game tonight – THeY won the game tonight. of course it is the players doing 99% of everything. but when teams win, it is the players, and when teams lose, it’s the manager’s fault…. that’s the lot of a manager. BUT if a manager is really toxifying a clubhouse, the team won’t be at the top of the standings – remember Bobby Valentine in Boston 2012 !!!
The players are doing that. And they’ll continue to do it if Tony just sits back and fill out the lineup card and keeps his mouth shut. A great way to split a locker room is publicly bashing your own players and saying they deserve to be thrown at. Some will side with the manager and some with the player. It’s a completely unforced error that you’d think a Hall of Fame Person wouldn’t make.
Mercedes defying his manager’s order not to swing is what the real issue is here. TLR can take the heat. It’s all nonsense and helps pass a long season though.
I wish TA would’ve laid low the last thing we need is him getting hit and missing time.
Disclaimer: this response is an exercise in devil’s advocacy.
Baseball is in the midst of a paradigm shift to a “let them have fun” atmosphere. But it is gradual, and the old guard mentality has not been completely purged from the league yet, TLR being the most obvious example. There are others though: the Brad Kellers, Randal Grichuks, Willians Astudillos, Rocco Baldellis, Roy Smalleys, etc.
Was TLR worried about retaliation from the the Twins, so he came down hard on Yermin from a protective point of view? Not worth losing a star hitter to a broken hand on a tight pitch, due to a meaningless home run in a blowout game, could be his thinking. And maybe saying it publicly is his way of trying to appease the dinosaurs in the Twins’ dugout, with two more games yet to be played in this series (and many more this season).
I can’t think of any other way to justify his words/actions. But as others have noted, he risks losing his own clubhouse by playing that game.
And I cannot refute any of the other arguments offered in this thread: hitters must try to hit, they are playing for their next contract, it is just as “disrespectful” for a position player to lob 47-mph eephuses, etc.
It’s some of both. LaRussa believes in the old code, and he is concerned that the Twins dugout know that he knows a violation just occurred. But most of all this kind of code violation means enough to LaRussa that he is blowing up at his own player. This is tradition. It’s like when your grandfather lost it when you walked in the house wearing a hat.
I think the most important reason he made the comments was to protect his players. That is a smart and very important way of protecting his team. Who knows what he actually said in the clubhouse. In the interview he didn’t seem to be fuming, but almost half smiling. But Also – I think it is valid of him to publicly prioritize values of sportsmanship – as an example to all the thousands and thousands of kids out there – placing value on respecting your opponent and putting the team above yourself – these concepts have an impact that goes far beyond two players and one game.
Off by a week; otherwise impressive.
I find it truly sad that nobody recognizes the value of sportsmanship in this day and age. Bravo Tony, for standing up for sportsmanship.
Respect is a two-way street. Yermin is competing for batting title and he’s a 28 year old rookie making the major league minimum with no guaranteed contract. They should have walked him so that he didn’t have to make a difficult decision.
Honestly? Sportsmanship can suck my dick.
I agree with you that it is concerning that the notion of sportsmanship is basically mocked and ridiculed in today’s day and age. Don’t really understand the promotion of uncivility. I guess it is a commentary on where the culture is. The Fernando Tatis ads on mlb.tv drive me insane. Basically mocking the fans who’s support elevated the game to its popularity.
With that said, I don’t think Mercedes swinging was bad sportsmanship. I say that because when the other team bats in the bottom half of the inning, they are still going to attempt to win the game. If Astudillo bats in the bottom of the 9th, he’s going to try and hit a home run. Unlike basketball and football, there’s no clock in baseball, so it’s conceivably possible for a team to come back from a large deficit. There’s no time clock to prevent it.
What exactly is “sportsman” about throwing a projectile at 90+ mph at a stationary human being?
Nothing. What Mercedes did was the equivalent of bullying the Twins and they retaliated. So stupid on Mercedes part as the Sox have much more to lose at this point than the Twins do.
Calgon take me away. Well, preferably take Tony La Russa away but either way one of us has to go. 🙁
Everyone is burying the lede. How in the heck did Jim know / find / remember that Roy Smalley reference?? That is what is most impressive.
I’m genuinely shocked that almost no one else on here was bothered by Yermin’s choice to swing on 3-0. Was it the most egregious violation of good sportsmanship I’ve ever seen? Certainly not. But do I want my manager teaching his team not to do that? Certainly yes.
Put another way–can you imagine Jose Abreu choosing to swing in that situtation?
The culture around the sport has changed a lot. I’m actually not American or grew up with baseball so I haven’t grown up with these unwritten rules everyone talks about. I understand not running up the score against a beaten opponent, that’s I think universal to a lot of sports, but I was surprised Astudillo really cared. If it was a pitcher being hammered, I can understand because his career is at risk but no one cares about Astudillo’s ERA.
I also think TLR’s admonishment was unnecessarily harsh. It would have been fine if he said “I believe that was unsportsmanlike by Yermin and I’ll talk to him about it” would have sufficed.
There is no such thing as a beaten opponent. You get 27 outs (or in some cases 24) and you’re job as a baseball team is to score as many runs as possible with your outs and to allow as few runs as possible during your opponents outs. How many comebacks have we seen over the years where teams get complacent with big leads across all the major sports? I don’t care who is at the plate and who is pitching for the other team, if they want to throw a pitch that I can hit to a major league ballplayer on the belief that it is “unsportsmanlike” to swing, you hammer that shit into the third deck. That’s what they are being paid to do. If you want to worry about hurting other people’s feelings, go back to little league.
Good sportsmanship is trying your hardest. The Twins put in a position player to “pitch” and expected the Sox to stop playing but their hitters would continue to swing away. That is disrespectful to the game. The Twins quitting is not Yermin or anyone else’s problem. A division opponent is trying to save their bullpen, the Sox should punish them for that.
Obviously La Russa is wrong and insane, but I can’t help but wonder if Mercedes being Mercedes plays a role in any of this.
I can’t help but think back to Showalter going on television and stating that he was excited that another organization would take him off of their hands. I also remember the story of Mercedes essentially crossing the field and switching teams in the Pecos League after a fight with his manager.
Couple these stories with him showing up late multiple times this year, the act of him blowing off La Russa’s sign might just have a cumulative effect.
There seems to be a real anger in La Russa about this. But you don’t see that same anger when Moncada blows through a stop sign or Anderson is doing Anderson things. So why now? Why Mercedes?
Am I wrong?