Friday, June 03, 2011

Sabean on KNBR Regarding Posey Incident: Hate Reveals Underlying Position

Wow, there is something about Sabean on KNBR that just brings out the worse in him.  From his almost opening statement of "I'm not an Idiot" to his epic battles with Ralph on-air to this comments about the runner who broadsided Posey.  Still, if a GM's worse sin is mouthing off about a questionable play, I'll take it.

Haters Will Find Reasons to Hate

I think the reaction I'm seeing among Giants fans to Sabean's statements is more a reflection of the underlying feelings of the reactor towards Sabean, than to the statement itself.  True, I can understand that one does not usually want your GM mouthing off publicly.   I disagree with those who think that this embarrasses us, it really only expressed what anybody who knows baseball was already thinking: the Giants want to retaliate against the Marlins and badly.  No brainer.

And then discussions degenerate to statements against Sabean, how lousy he is, with labels of "one year wonder".  No wonder that I got stricken off MCC's blog list, these people are just haters and they just want to have their cake and eat it too:  enjoying the wonderful World Championship that Sabean brought us while simultaneously giving him the back of the hand and dismissing his accomplishment.  I have to think that the Giants fans who are upset about Sabean's statement on KNBR are really more upset with Sabean and looking for a reason to grouse.

Could Sabean be Protecting Players?

And any long-time Sabean observer would know that Sabean is very calculated and sparse with his statements generally.  He does not, using one of his Sabean-isms, open up his kimono very often, he likes to keep things close to the vest, releasing as little information as he can to the public, generally.  He is very much like a lawyer in that way.  

So when he makes a statement like this to the public, I have to wonder if there was some purpose to it, though I do acknowledge that perhaps he just simply put his foot into his mouth, as he is usually very guarded with his comments typically.  But if you listen to the KNBR podcast, he was pretty even keeled throughout the interview, certainly not as hot as he has gotten previously talking with the Razor.  Maybe slightly near the end, but the Razor kept bringing it up, so I blamed it more on his history with Ralph than the situation itself.

The only thing I can think of is that he is doing this to get the league to shine their spotlight on the Giants players so that our players will have to think twice before taking matters into their own hands, as Sabean intimated with his comment about talking with Matheny (who basically said that baseball players take matters into their own hands on the field, when asked about the play).  I think that inclination on the players' part is intensified when the player taken out (whether by play at play, take-out slide at 2B, HBP to batter) is one of the best players on your team.  So, if anything, the MLB will tell the umps to put the pressure on the Giants when they face the Marlins to take it out on them via baseball and not via any other methods or the umps (and the league) will come down hard on the Giants player(s).  

In this way, Sabean would save his team from losing anyone to suspension by the league (or future injury, like when Krukow retaliated against the Cards and ended up in a fight that resulted in an injury to him and took him away from playing for the team).  And we should be grown-up enough to know this, you just can't apologize and think it all magically goes away, the Giants players will want revenge, and sometimes the stars take it upon themselves to do that.  The Giants can't afford to lose any more of their stars.

And the Sabean Naysayers do not recognize that he has kept the stars on the team.  They worry in anguish over Fred Lewis, John Bowker, Jeremy Accardo, Todd Linden, Tim Alderson - "What will the Giants do without them?!?!?" - or contracts like Barry Zito or Aaron Rowand, while forgetting that Sabean has put together a great team - second best ERA in majors three straight seasons and headed for a fourth up there - with stars like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and potential future stars like Brandon Belt, Zack Wheeler, Gary Brown, Heath Hembree, Eric Surkamp.  He has made much better decisions regarding keeping who really matters, while these Naysayers excoriate him for a decision about the 25th man.  And they attribute the 2010 Championship to luck.  I would love for them to say that to Huff's, Burrell's or Wilson's face  (In fact, I dare them to say it to any of them in a serious tone :^).

Some of these Naysayers are saying that Sabean embarrassed the team.  I say that these Naysayers embarrasses the team.  I would bet that if you go out to baseball fans from other towns and told them that fans still want to get rid of Sabean, even after last season, they would think the Giants fans are crazy.  These other fans can see the stars and the success, they don't see the minor mistakes that Sabean has made over the years (and they are minor if his successes are so big enough to make up for them).

I would understand it if Sabean had traded away, Andre Ethier and Carlos Gonzalez, and didn't have much of anything to show for it, but Joe Nathan is the only real mistake (Francisco Liriano would be a total pain to manage, how do you manage for your ace not being around for a whole season? You can't).  We won the World Championship, what more do you want?

What's the Problem?

In any case, I have no problem with Sabean saying this publicly.  It only speaks to what anybody with any baseball knowledge would know:  players have their own little world where they will make the other team pay for transgressions.  Sure, I would have preferred Sabean kept quiet about it, but it is not like it's big news or anything.  Particularly to anyone who is in baseball, I would think.

You would either have to be a newbie or totally oblivious to not know that the Giants players plan some sort of retribution, at some point.  It was obvious with the Prince Fielder bowling stunt, it was obvious now.  I took it as a given, having watched baseball for roughly 40 years now.

Macho is as Macho Does

It's a macho sport, with macho men, and if you harm us, we will harm you.  That's the code that  allowed the runner to even think about spearing Posey in the first place, the same macho thinking that has led many runners to run into catchers like this, though, to be fair, this is the first time I've ever heard a runner admit that he avoided home plate and focused specifically on the catcher to blast the ball out of his glove, which makes it more despicable in my mind, because he could have scored easily if he had went for the plate.  

I understand it if the catcher was blocking the plate.  We can never legislate that away, there will always be violent collisions at home plate.  But Posey was far away enough from the plate.

Tom Tolbert, in the Sabean interview, kept on going on and on that if you protect the catcher, then the catcher cannot then try to tag the runner trying to score.  I don't see why the catcher can't do that.  That is his job.  

If that is legal for the runner to knock the ball out, then why can't the runner running by firstbase try to knock the ball out the glove of the first baseman?  Why not crash into one of the fielders trying to tag you out?  Why is it not allowed at any other base?  Because it don't make sense.

And people forget that long ago, fielders were targets for baserunners.  So people who want to keep things as they were are basically advocating to a return to those days with their attitude.  The job of the fielder is to tag the runner and the runner is not allowed to interfere with that job anywhere except for home plate, where they are allowed to plow into the catcher and hope for the best, as the runners sometimes get hurt too.  That has to change.

Look and Listen to Details of the Incident Before Commenting

I think anybody who does not understand my position hasn't seen the hit nor heard all the the Runner's comments.  A former football player (I think on ESPN, might be one of their talking heads) said that if an NFL player had done what the Runner did to another player in the NFL, he would have been suspended and fined.  If the extreme macho sport of NFL football would outlaw and condemn such a play, what more do people need to know about how bad this was?

Yet I see a lot of pontificating by a lot of the baseball talking heads across media.  This reminds me of the time Barry Bonds said a joke about Babe Ruth in a press conference, which, as one of our local scribes noted, everyone in the room knew he was joking around and not serious, but some joker from AP puts out that quote without any context, so then everyone in media who didn't bother to ask one of the reporters actually IN the press conference for clarification, took a potshot at Bonds (which again goes to my thoughts above about how people expose their underlying feelings by how they react to things; they already had an axe to grind with Bonds and saw an opening and took their shot;  I didn't see any follow-up apologies for their misunderstanding of the situations, or if there were, it was buried in the back pages where they put all their errata).  

I would bet that not many of the reporters even bothered to look at the video of the hit and then go and read all the comments that Cousins made, particularly the great video on showing the hit from a number of different angles, it seems very clear to me after looking at that, but can understand if they only saw one certain angle (or didn't even bother to look at the hit themselves), they might not feel the same.

Yeah, it was juvenile to say that you don't care if you don't ever see the Runner again, as Sabean said.  Frankly, the way he's playing, he's going to be sent down to the minors soon.  And his minors stats are very fringy, he'll be lucky right now to carve out a career as a journeyman bench player.  The Giants probably won't get to see the Runner when they swing by Florida in August, he is playing that badly.  Sabean, to me, was just echoing what any of us are feeling.  His sentiment was brute, but honest and truthful.

Biased Comments

Andy Baggarly, as usual, as a really nice report covering different angles on the situation in an article in the Merc, which includes interviews with the Runner's agent and former coach on the USF Dons.  The agent gets all huffy about this in his quotes, but he's also the agent for Freddy Sanchez, and if the Runner had took out Sanchez at 2B and injured him severely, he would have been the first guy on the soapbox declaring that something has to be done to protect his client.  

And the former coach backed up his former student by saying it was clean baseball that happens all across the country.  Except for one thing:  the NCAA has rules prohibiting that when the catcher is away from the plate (from what I've read, I don't know what the exact rules are but I've read multiple times that such a play would not have been allowed under amateur rules).  So if his catcher was taken out like that, by an ILLEGAL move per NCAA rules, he would have been on his soapbox talking about what a lousy SOB that Runner is.

I have to quote the agent here, gave me a good chuckle:
"He apologized until he was blue in the face, reached out until he was blue in the face, but obviously nobody cares. That's their prerogative. But it's time to drop it and stop talking about it.
"I promise you that if Buster Posey or Huff or Ross had run over John Buck and injured him in that same play, the Giants players would be celebrating a great hard play that gave their team a victory, and I don't believe that Brian would be talking about how dirty a hit it was."
If someone had run over the agent with a car and made him an invalid in severe constant pain, then "apologized until he was blue in the face, reached out until he was blue in the face, but obviously nobody cares," let's see how eager he is to drop it and stop talking about it.  His team of lawyers would not be singing "Kumbayah" with the person who ran over him, I promise you that.

And just because Sabean and the Giants might do the same thing that the Marlins and the agent are doing had they been in the same situation does not make it right.  There is right and wrong.  What the Runner did was wrong, even if it was within the rules of the game as we currently played it.  And it is especially wrong because he planned it as he was taking off from the base and didn't even consider going for the plate when Posey was clearly away from the plate.  At minimum, he should have been called out for going out of the base path, not scoring the winning run; just put insult to injury.

Wrong is Wrong

It was wrong 40 years ago to my adolescent mind when Pete Rose plowed down Ray Fosse, when I was a baseball newbie, it is wrong today.  Wrong is wrong.

Just because people allowed it before does not make it right.  People should not be giving death threats to the Runner (or his family who lives in the area; though hopefully one family member will give him a cold shoulder at family get togethers), but neither should runners be plowing down a catcher who was clearly off the basepath.  Moreover, in any case, the rules should be protecting the catcher from violent collisions, not encouraging it.  

The rules should not put the notion in the head of the runner that the best option, as he confessed in interviews, was to aim himself at the catcher and spear the guy while he is vulnerable.  You would think he would know better, he went to a religious college, one would think that ethics would be a class he was required to take to graduate.  Seemed pretty clear cut to me when I was young, still seems very clear cut to me now:  fielders should be protected.

If that is not true, then why have rules changed over the years to protect the fielders from the runners?  Why not let the Ty Cobb's of the game sharpen their spikes and aim them with bloody intent at the fielders daring to tag him out?  Why not let players today take out the middle infielder at second base by sliding way out of the basepath?  

As people make pains to say a lot, baseball is just a game.  I understand that but it seems that people forget that notion, probably because the players are being paid.  Did the Runner really think that nothing bad physically would happen if he chose to run into the catcher?  It might not be foremost in his mind, but he surely had to have realized, at some level, that there were good odds of a severe injury happening either to him or to Posey by making his decision?  Was the run worth so much to risk serious injury to himself or the catcher?  It is only a game, after all.

And an apology makes it all good, boo-boo gone?  What world does the agent live in?  If he's really, really sorry, maybe he'll give up his spot on the roster and help Posey get around town.  And if he's really, really, really sorry, he'll make up for the millions of dollars that Posey might  miss out on because of these injuries.  And if he's really, really, really, really sorry, until he's blue in his face and lungs, he'll have someone run over his leg and see how it feels to live with that.  

He had an opening to score.  He didn't take it.  He decided that risking injury to himself and the catcher was the better choice.  Why the hell can't people see how wrong that is?  


  1. I thought of another reason for Sabean to do this: it might be a way to bring more national attention to this bad situation. Perhaps the Giants were not getting the attention that they wanted from MLB officials, so this could be calculated way to gain an audience with Torre.

    And as the old saying goes, there is no bad publicity.

  2. Forgot to mention that the Giants issued a statement backing away from Sabeans tone, plus apparently apologized to Cousins by leaving a message on his voicemail.

  3. I enjoy reading your Blog but FYI you are still on the MCC blog list.

  4. You need to separate the 2 incidents here: the collision and Sabean's public statements.

    The collision was unfortunate, no question. It was a legal play, but with an unfirtunate result. Should we protect the players more? Also, no question.

    However, that does not excuse Sabean's public statements vowing revenge and wishing ill on Cousins. It was flat out-and-out wrong for a person in is position to do. Period. Yoou can make excuses for him all day, but it does not change the fact that he was wrong to do this publicly. That was evidenced by the Giants' management backtracking statements made yesterday. I understand the motivations and the ire behind it, but it was still wrong.

  5. Thanks for the info Leon.

    After I wrote a post about while I don't mind being listed, I would not let NOT being listed bother me, Grant put me back on the blog rolls then gave me a half-assed apology - where he basically used the same insult he originally used in comment on my comment - and meanwhile begged DrB to come back to MCC.

    Boof, he didn't wish Cousins ill-will. All he said was that if he never saw or heard of him again, that would be fine with him. Now there is the Matheny reference. Again, I don't see that as wishing ill, but noting obliquely that baseball takes care of their own, which is ill-will, but that's also baseball, the way it is played by the players. He simply acknowledged the ill-will is coming, he didn't wish it upon him (though admittedly he didn't discourage it either)

  6. We all know what he meant by his statements and is was personal in nature. It was inexcusable for a person in the position that he is in to make those comments. There is no justification for it, especially in view of the Brian Stow incident earlier in the season.

  7. OCG
    You are an idiot if you did not take the Sabean comments as a threat.

  8. Potato, Po-ta-to.

    Since you want to go to name-calling, you are an idiot if you didn't think that the Giants were going to payback both the Runner and the Marlins, that is the code of baseball, unlike what Logan Morrison thinks, just because we never laced it up, we know something about the culture of baseball, and sports in general: you take out one of our guys, you will get payback at some point.

    So if you want to take that as a threat, go ahead, since you appear to be uncognizant of the fact that baseball players do paybacks all the time. I just see it as an acknowledgement of a FACT that he and the Marlins are going to get payback, at some point in the future, at the Giants players choosing. Count on it.

  9. Boof, The only part I saw as personal was that Sabean would never care to hear the Runner's name again. I've heard worse threats on the playground. If you are upset about such a statement, well, you have a much lower tolerance than I do.

    If I had my druthers, would I wish Sabean not said that? I suppose. But I just see most of what he said as a matter of fact statements, nothing threatening, again, assuming one is into baseball enough to know about the inner game of Major League Baseball and how they take care of transgressions by other teams. That's FACT, and anybody who does not understanding that is either a newbie or oblivious.

    What is inexcusable is that catchers are not afforded the protection from runners that fielders at other positions are.

    THAT is what I see as most important in the attention afforded this incident. This is not hockey you throw your body at somebody in hopes of something positive happening as a normal course of behavior.

    If Sabean has to do a stunt like this, whether purposefully or out of the passion of the moment, to get baseball to lessen the odds of such a barbaric act from happening, I'm OK with it.

    And this has nothing to do with Brian Stow, unless you are saying that it was a senseless act, because what the Runner did to Buster Posey was a senseless act: there was a path to the plate, he chose not to take it.

    If he didn't think he could score safely, then maybe next time he should just stay at 3B instead of spearing the defenseless catcher, or take the safer route of trying to avoid the tag, instead of spearing the catcher. In that way, I can understand bringing poor Brian Stow into a discussion about catcher safety, because that is what this ultimately is about, saving the catcher from senseless decisions and acts.

    All Sabean said was that he wouldn't care if he heard anything about the Runner ever again. I think you insult Brian Stow and lessen what he went through by trying to compare this with what happened to Brian Stow.

    That to me is inexcusable. Brian Stow's life is basically ended, there is little hope for light at the end of the tunnel. It was a violent, senseless act, so, to my view, the only person who can even come close to being compared to Brian is Buster Posey, and as bad as Buster's injury and everything is, it is not even in the same galaxy of what Brian Stow is going through.

    But to compare the Runner with Brian Stow? Words fail me, for once.

  10. Since the analogy is brought up, the Runner, if anything, is more like the violent thug who senselessly beat upon Brian Stow.

    I'm glad he's having problems with dealing with this. That shows how important it is to stop future runners from making the same stupid decision.

    But he's not getting any sympathy from me, his contrition would have been better if he had just admitted that he made the wrong decision and regret doing it. Instead, he says he's glad he did it and as far as he is concerned, he did the right thing. I'm sure that thug that beat up Brian Stow feels exactly the same. #MASSIVE_FAIL

  11. Your arguments for your positions are usually well-thought out and well-reasoned.

    Unfortunately, you are way off base on this one. Sabean was wrong to go off on Cousins like that. There is no argument that can make it right. Many people, including the Giants organization itself, agrees with that.

    I think you need to separate your ire about losing Posey and baseball's indifference to protect players from the ridiculous statements that Sabean made. One does not justify the other.



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