Episode 40 - Dumpster IKEA

Hey literally everyone: watch the Women’s Baseball World Cup!

PSA over. Walk off balk is hard to say, don’t hit rookies with baseballs, and don’t sell your bullpen because you’re mad. That said, bullpen carts are great, though we all have differing options as to why. And more thing should be solved with lasers. 

Episode 40 - Dumpster IKEA

Episode 37 - A Buffalo in Your Kitchen

National baseball media is doing a horrific job of talking about domestic violence/child sexual assault and we have to address it. Do freaking better. Umps are also not learning anything about their racist behavior and we have to address it. Do freaking better. Meanwhile the Negro League Baseball Museum continues to be literally awesome despite vandalism, the Mets have a horse in their kitchen and his name is Jerry Blevins, and the Nationals' house is not actually burning down. Just, let Michael A Taylor stay in center. You know, we talk about too many guys named Mikey this episode, but we don't regret a thing.

E37 - A Buffalo in Your Kitchen

**Discussion of DV/CSA starts ~1:30, ends ~21:00. 
Please contact thehotline.org (DV), rainn.org (SA), or suicidepreventionlifeline.org if you need help or just someone to listen.

Episode 36 - Don't Get The Clap From The Cup

The Stanley Cup followed Adam Eaton to DC and then to Nats Park; whether or not this breaks the sports curse, we hope the Nationals remember to sanitize. It's also the 75th anniversary of the AAGPBL and as important as that is, it's equally important to talk about its history without sweeping the racist and homophobic aspects under the rug of time. Also, 2/3 of us were at Nats Park to celebrate Night Out and watch Max throw an immaculate inning, we try to solve the Bryce/Eaton/Michael A/Soto outfield tetrahedron, and if the weather in DC stays like it is we'll be seeing Shirts & Skins games before long. Resting Pitchface is breaking out its shrine for Strasburg's shoulder.

Episode 36 - Don't Get The Clap From The Cup

Episode 35 - Pitchers Are Weird Cats

Thanks to newest MASN personality Michael Morse for our deeply on brand title (and general baseball philosophy). We've got a fair amount of pitchers being weird cats, or people being weird to pitching cats, this ep. What is it about Florida that makes for so many poor choices? Also, racial scapegoating isn't really the best way to deal with PEDs, MLB. In Nats news: Juan Soto (new) Blessed Baseball Infant, Hellickson's blister is probably fine, and we're over .500 and apparently trying to start a boy band. That sure is something.

Episode 35: Pitchers Are Weird Cats

Episode 34 - Fun Things Are Fun (When We're Winning)

Is Matt Harvey currently a LOLMETS or a LOLCINCY? Is Anthony Rendon doing a The Bachelor-esque rose ceremony or is it behavior modification? What on Earth is going on with you Bryce Harper? We look for answers here at Resting Pitchface. Even with a brief sojourn in Geography class.

Episode 34 - Fun Things Are Fun (When We're Winning)

**On this episode we do discuss Roberto Osuna and his domestic violence arrest. Time codes ~1:30 to ~18:00**

Episode 33 - Some (Nats) Like It Hot

Everyone chill, it's still only April. Meantime, who wears it best: Pedro "The Thriller" Severino vs Wil "The Thrill" Difo. Major League Baseball & fans continue to be extremely racist (Lindor has nothing to apologize for). Umpiring, heavy sigh. Baseball is in the Upside Down. Resting Pitchface takes a long walk down a really fork-y road.

Episode 33: Some (Nats) Like It Hot

Umpires Disproportionately Eject Non-White Players

Anthony Rendon was ejected from Saturday’s game for … not contesting the strike zone. He flipped his bat down, faced away from the umpire, and did not visibly open his mouth. He was tossed by Marty Foster, for, what crew chief Joe West described incorrectly as ‘throwing equipment.’ (The pathologization of a non-white player’s actions after the fact to justify an ejection by a white ump is the subject of an entirely different set of analyses.)

After the game, Rendon actually went on record to say that umpires, like players, should be held to specific standards and demoted if they fail to meet those standards. This statement is remarkable for a couple of reasons. One, as most Nats fans know, getting Rendon to say anything, particularly anything of substance, to the media is pretty tough. He is, to forgive the pun, a pretty close-mouthed guy. For another, he points out that umpires, like players, are now doing their jobs in the Statcast era - we know, to a pretty refined degree, how well or not well they’re performing.

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Episode 32 - Phenomenal Cosmic Weirdness, Itty Bitty Opening Weekend

It's been a heck of an Opening Weekend and that's without even getting into the Nat's 21-runs-over-three-games sweep of the Reds. We tackle the highlights (overturned walkoffs & the 17 stages of baseball grief, the audacity of bunting, the gall of Brian Goodwin's grand slam), Resting Pitchface style. And there's still time for a hard right turn into the evils of capitalism. This is the start of a beautiful season.

E32 - Phenomenal Cosmic Weirdness, Itty Bitty Opening Weekend

Episode 31 - Things of the Face

We have something of an Aging Players Yearbook this "week". What's going on with Ichiro, Tim Lincecum, and podcast favorite Tyler Clippard? Also, Noah Syndergaard's shirtless interview has us speculating about more than just bullpen carts. The pornstar jar is on topic for once (though it does get interrupted by a camel). Introducing the Scherzbow, a Resting Pitchface original.

E31 - Things of the Face

Episode 30 - Bad Idea Factory

As the song (sort of) goes Baseball's Back, Alright! Resting Pitchface is joined this week by Ursula of Flipping Bats & Winning Games to discuss the state of the NL East (don't hold her Mets fan-dom against her). Of course, the NL is mainly a bad idea factory, but that's not so out of keeping with the official bad idea factory that is MLB (extra humidors? limited mound visits???). We discuss those bad ideas and some good ideas of our own, like adopting some aspects of Finnish baseball or giving Leslie Jones and Sonia Sotomayor their own baseball show. We're so excited that it's baseball time again!

Book Review of Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, by Martha Ackmann

Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day! In addition to that, we're midway through the first week of Black History Month! These two things together make today a perfect day for a review of a book I read recently, which I would wholeheartedly recommend to you all. Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League, by Martha Ackmann, is an excellent biography of Toni Stone and a fascinating view into the history of Negro League baseball in the mid-1940s through 1950s.

The book starts in Ms. Stone's young childhood and follows her closely through her retirement from baseball in 1954. It also describes some details of her later life. However, the main focus of the book is on her playing career, both amateur and professional. The overarching theme throughout is Ms. Stone's love for the game. From her childhood playing on a church team, to her semi-pro years with the St. Paul Giants, to her experiences on Negro League teams including the San Francisco Sea Lions, the Indianapolis Clowns, and the Kansas City Monarchs, Ms. Stone endured constant discouragement and mistreatment as a Black woman who wanted to play baseball. But she never gave up on the game she loved. Even after her retirement, the book describes her coaching and playing with amateur teams in local parks near her home.

In spite of her passion and talent for baseball, Ms. Stone had to fight for playing time and fair compensation every step of her career. One of the most poignant details of the book was the disconnect between the way the teams advertised her, and her actual experiences. The owners told local newspapers that they were paying her thousands of dollars to play, when in reality she was getting a fraction of what they reported. They also billed her as a star of the diamond, when the way they treated her as an employee did not reflect any kind of star status. It was often difficult for the men on the Negro League teams to find road accommodations given the status of segregation; for Ms. Stone, it was even harder, since the male players often found places to sleep that would accept Black men but not a woman. Eventually Ms. Stone discovered that she could find lodging in brothels in the cities her team traveled to, making friends with the women working there and becoming able to depend on their hospitality. Having to scrounge for a place to sleep may be sadly typical at times for some of today's underpaid minor leaguers, but it would be unheard of today for an MLB player receiving top billing and bringing in big crowds to have to deal with these types of living conditions.

The uncertainty and instability she faced on the road, as well as within the organizations that employed her, cannot have been easy for Ms. Stone to bear. But even at the end of her career, as the integration of the MLB threatened the future of the Negro Leagues, and as the introduction of other female players such as Mamie "Peanut" Johnson and Connie Morgan threatened Ms. Stone's place on her own team (due to the owners' view of female players mainly as gimmicks to bring in audiences, rather than individual players with value), Ms. Stone always pushed for fair opportunities to play as she deserved. When she ultimately retired in 1954, it had more to do with the lack of playing time her manager was giving her than with any desire to quit the game of baseball.

The text is clearly non-fiction/history rather than novelization, which I preferred for this type of topic. In particular, when white women write about Black women, a novelization style provides far too much leeway to veer into sensationalization and/or exploitation (see: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). Martha Ackmann is an excellent journalist-historian known for her earlier book on a group of female astronauts, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight. But Ackmann, though she is white, depicts Ms. Stone and the figures in her life with consistent respect, without falling into stereotypes or tropes about African-Americans. The author/narrator's voice is minimal to nonexistent throughout, rightly allowing the facts about Ms. Stone's life to speak for themselves.

One adaptation of Ackmann's book is already in the works, a play by Lydia R. Diamond, an award-winning Black playwright and professor known for previous works including The Bluest Eye and Smart People. The Ackmann biography is a fascinating read on its own, but it is even more encouraging to know that it is providing others with source material to create different types of media based on Toni Stone's story, and to ensure that Ms. Stone's commitment to the game of baseball against all odds is not forgotten.

You can find Curveball on Amazon here, or at your favorite independent bookstore or local library!

Read it? Have an opinion? Email us at restingpitchface@gmail.com or @restinpitchface on Twitter to share your thoughts!

Episode 29 - Hashtag Cold Stove

Did you know that Christian Yelich autocorrects to helicopter? #yelicopter Also, Ichiro is a wasp now. No, this didn't become a Marlins podcast overnight, but the Nats only made like 1 1/2 moves since our last episode. This is Howie do it and Anthony Rendon might be making the money he's earned. That said, Marlins going to Marlin, and Orioles going to LOLOrioles. 

It's been a cold stove offseason. Resting Pitchface has thoughts.

Episode 29: Hashtag Cold Stove

Baseball and the Olympics

Baseball is coming back to the Olympics in 2020. But just how international is baseball, particularly professional baseball? Of the big four professional sports in the US - football, basketball, hockey, and baseball - baseball has the highest representation of players born outside one country. Approximately 28 percent of MLB players are non-US-born, similar to the all-time high of international players in 2006. Only 12 or so MLB players are from Canada, though a few have dual US-Canadian citizenship, including Freddie Freeman, whose neck I assume qualifies as its own citizen. Twenty other nationalities are represented, with the Dominican Republic (123) and Venezuela (91) accounting for about 62 percent of foreign-born players. Other well-represented countries include Cuba (28), Puerto Rico (25 - part of the US, but with players competing separately at the Olympics), and Mexico (15).

Japan and Korea each have 9 players in the major leagues, and each also has pro-leagues of their own, as does Mexico. (The Mexican professional league is associated with the MLB as a AAA-tier league.) Other countries have either winter leagues or pro-leagues, further expanding the number of potential players for the Olympics.

For comparison, the NBA features 101 or so international players for around 450 roster spots, yielding a non-US-born rate of 22 percent, and a charming map about the 2014-5 season: http://www.nba.com/global/map/. Non-US-born NBA players are from Canada (12), France (10), Australia (8), Brazil (7), in addition to players from 33 other countries, making the NBA the most diverse big four sport in terms of countries represented. Twelve teams participated at Rio, including those countries well-represented in the NBA, with Team USA recently crushing Team Serbia in the finals for the third straight gold medal.

Hockey has a majority of non-US-born players, with 49 percent of players in the 2015-6 season hailing from Canada. About 24 percent of players were not from the US or Canada. Hockey has even less diversity in terms of countries of origin, with 18 countries represented other than Canada, including 25 percent of NHL players who are from the US. Sweden (85), Russia (41), the Czech Republic (39), and Finland (39) also contribute a large number of players to the 990 roster spots. It is worth noting that, while hockey is featured at the Winter Olympics, the upcoming World Cup of Hockey will feature a ‘Misc. Europe’ team, in addition to teams from the US, Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Canada has won three of the last four gold medals in men’s ice hockey at the Olympics.

NFL football is unsurprisingly overwhelmingly American, with about 97 percent of roster players born in the US. Chances are pretty low of seeing American football at the Olympics, though I would spend good money to watch a field-goal-kicking event. Or an Olympic event in explaining what scoring a safety is when you’re drunk. I really feel like we, as a nation, have trained for it.

Back to baseball: There are also questions of scheduling and participation during a long baseball season, versus during the Olympic break for hockey or the off-season for the NBA, as well as of quality of competition, should MLB players not want to participate. Since MLB players only participated for the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympics (and teams were limited to non-25-man-roster players), it’s a bit more difficult to predict how Olympic baseball will go.

Cuba is the historic powerhouse, winning gold in 2004 with entirely non-MLB players. It’ll also be interesting to see how, if at all, the US’s more open policy with Cuba will affect the number of Cubans in the MLB, and thus willingness to participate in the Olympics. I assume defectors like Jose Fernandez - now a US citizen - and Yasiel Puig would not represent Cuba in the Olympics. I have no inkling of whether Fernandez would play for the US either, but I feel that he and Nathan Adrian might medal in any international smiling competition they entered.

The Nationals are not a particularly international team, with only seven players on the 40-man plus DL roster born outside the US, three in Venezuela (Buffalo, Lobi, and Petit), three in the DR (Lopez, Difo, and Severino), and one in Mexico (Perez). In comparison with the rest of the NL East, Miami has 17 non-US-born players, the Mets 13, the Phillies 17, and the Braves 11. (As a note to the baseball-reference gods, listing players’ nationalities with tiny flag depictions that do not actually download to spreadsheets is no way to win friends and allies. Just sayin’.)

The last Olympics went pretty well for at least one now-National: Baby Stephen Strasburg and his nascent chin beard represented his country well as the only college player on team USA, with an ERA of 1.67, one-hitting the Netherlands and eventually winning bronze. So, even if Olympic baseball remains the domain of non-big-league players, seeing the next Strasburg might make it worth tuning in for anyway.

This was originally posted at the Resting Pitchface Tumblr. 

The Chapman Deal: Nats Fans, Don’t Let This Go

If you pay any attention to baseball news, by now you’ve heard that closer Aroldis Chapman was traded from the Yankees to the Cubs, in exchange for four Cubs players including one of their top prospects. You probably know that the Nationals were in the mix as well, and that they are disappointed they didn’t get him. And you almost definitely know about Chapman’s 30-game suspension for an incident of domestic violence in which he choked his girlfriend, shoved her up against a wall, and fired eight shots into the wall of his garage. He admitted to firing the shots, but has largely downplayed the incident. For Nats fans who care about what their players do off the field, the news that we didn’t get him came as a relief. He’s going to Chicago, he won’t be on our team, great, move on, that’s it.

Nats fans, that’s not it.

For one thing, the Nats wanted him. Dusty Baker has worked with him in the past in Cincinnati, and in fact made some pretty questionable comments defending him back in December when the news about the domestic violence case first broke. Even now that Chapman has admitted to at least some of the incident, including the gunshots, the Nats still went after him this month. The reason we don’t have to see Chapman wearing the Curly W tomorrow has nothing to do with his actions; it ultimately came down to the fact that the asking price was too high. Back in December, the Dodgers passed on him after getting close to a deal because they didn’t want to be associated with the domestic violence case. The Nats, and many other teams, clearly had no such qualms. From the team’s perspective, we didn’t dodge a bullet here - we missed out.

Many fans are claiming that since Chapman has served his suspension, the incident should no longer be an issue. Even his new manager doesn’t seem to be all that concerned. But simply serving a suspension does not erase the fact that Chapman clearly has problems with violence. The new MLB policy also includes treatment and intervention for players who have committed acts of domestic violence. However, Chapman’s continuing lack of demonstrated contrition shows that he has not yet reached a point where he understands why his actions were so wrong. Until he shows he has reached that point, fans and clubs have every reason to remain concerned about how he may act in the future - and in fact how he may be acting now behind closed doors, given the high rates of repeat offenses in domestic violence cases.

But he’s playing for the Cubs now, so why do we care?

Because this is a problem that exists all across baseball, and throughout professional sports. José Reyes is playing for the Mets in our own NL East. He was given a hero’s welcome by the team and by many fans and reporters after the Mets obtained him at a discount following his suspension for grabbing his wife by the throat and shoving her into a glass door. Oh, but those are just Mets fans, right? They’re all jerks anyway. Nats fans would never act like that… Or would we? We want to win a World Series title as much as anybody. It’s amazing what people will forgive in the name of winning a game.

So what can we do? He’s not on our team. We don’t work for Major League Baseball. Where do we start? A few basic suggestions:

-Speak out. Many reporters and other sports-related personalities are downplaying the issue. Use social media, article comments, and other methods of feedback to respectfully but firmly let them know that what they’re doing is unacceptable.

-Do the same with your friends. Domestic violence as an issue is handled poorly by many otherwise well-meaning people (see above re: the quotes from Dusty). It may be easier to let comments slide. But silence is compliance. Whenever you can, try to start a conversation about it instead. You might not change everyone’s mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change anyone’s.

-If you are able, consider donating to your local domestic violence-related charities. Here are some ideas for national organizations that accept donations. Some of them are looking for objects other than money, such as used cell phones.

-Elevate the voices of survivors of domestic violence, as well as those sports reporters who are writing about the issue constructively (some of whom are domestic violence survivors themselves). Players such as Josh Donaldson who grew up with the effects of domestic violence and have spoken about their experiences are crucial here as well.

-Don’t stop talking about it just because Chapman won’t be wearing a Nats uniform any time soon. It’s tempting to let it go - out of sight, out of mind, right? Don’t. We can do better than that. We need to do better than that.

If you have feedback or questions, please contact us through the ask box, on Twitter, or via email. This is a sensitive issue, so we welcome commentary and criticism that is presented respectfully. Deliberately inflammatory comments will be ignored. This was originally posted at the Resting Pitchface Tumblr.