We have short attention spans. Memes and sound bites dominate. This leads to a world in which quotes are often taken out of context and reused so many times that they can lose their original meaning altogether.
That’s why Forbes reporter Jack Etkin dedicated a whole article to a small quote from September 1, 2019 when Nolan Arenado said, “It feels like a rebuild.” In this great analysis of those five words, Etkin reminds fans what was happening when he was talking to Arenado and heard the dreaded R word come out of Nolan’s mouth.
So, let’s recap.
The Rockies had just gone 17-38 over the months of July and August. More immediately, they had just been swept by the Pirates in a four-game series at home. German Marquez and Jon Gray were done for the year. Kyle Freeland was out of the rotation with an injury well-after his non-rehabilitative stint in Triple-A. Chad Bettis had undergone hip surgery. David Dahl’s all-star season was done due to injury. Raimel Tapia was on the DL. Chris Iannetta was gone. The lineup was chock-full of rookies and guys who had to be Googled and were fighting for spring training invites. The Rockies had long been out of contention and were well on their way to earning a 91-loss season. So yeah, it felt like a rebuild.
Etkin makes a very compelling case as to what we need to remember about what Nolan said and more importantly when he said it. He admits to not knowing and doesn’t just speculate on the odds of a Nolan trade or how his relationship is with the front office, which is refreshing in a time of seemingly endless click-bait rumors.
Nolan wants to win. No one faults him for that. He also just signed a long-term deal with the Rockies and has a right to be frustrated when he isn’t playing for the chance of a postseason in September. In a dreadful offseason without much good news and horrible rumors of trading the best player in franchise history, this article made me a little feel better. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.
In the same vein as the well-sourced and all-encompassing Nolan Arenado trade theater Rockpile from Wednesday, where AJ Henrickson hosted a make-believe meeting between Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and the St. Louis Cardinals President of Operations John Mozeliak, the Rox Pile penned an imaginary letter from Bridich to fans. In the pretend letter, Bridich puts Rockies fans at ease by saying the Rockies want Arenado back next year, but he is just doing his due diligence to listen to offers and do all he can to make the team better. It’s not real, but it sure does make you wish it was.
Just some reassurance from Bridich would be great, too bad he seems to hate talking to reporters. However, he could just use this thing called Twitter and speak directly to the fans in less than 280 characters.
Not thrilled is quite the understatement. It’s really more like my mind is consumed with a bunch of swear words not fit for publication and the need to get a punching bag installed in the garage (I got one for Christmas). In Patrick Saunders’s weekly mailbag, he tackles questions on everything from Nolan trade talks, to Larry Walker’s fielding prowess, to that rebuilding word again.
Nothing is too newsy, but Saunders does say that he text Dick Monfort about the Arenado trade rumors and got this back: “Really don’t have any comment.” That’s really helpful. But Saunders does remind readers that he asked about Nolan’s “It feels like a rebuild” comment at the end of the season press conference and that Bridich said, “If we were truly in a rebuild, Nolan Arenado probably wouldn’t be here to make comments like that.” And Monfort said, “I haven’t seen many rebuilds that start with signing the face of your franchise, your best player, to a $260 million contract.” I wish one of them would just add, “And we would never put our organization, our players, and our fans through the agony of thinking we would do that to our best player one year after locking that contract down last offseason.” (Also, they could remind us all that they said it would be an offseason without a lot of splashes.) If only.
In other news, Saunders squashes ideas of calling Brenden Rodgers a bust just because he didn’t hit well in 76 at bats (.224/.272/.250) in the majors in 2019 and struggling with injuries. He adds the Rockies would not likely sign free agent utility player Brock Holt because he costs money, like $5 million a year kind of money (especially since we won’t even give Trevor Story $750,000 of well-earned cash), and what might happen in the future if the Rockies don’t turn things around in 2020 (a tank versus a rebuild versus letting contracts run out for Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, and hopefully Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy. It’s a wide-ranging array of questions that a least veer away from Nolan trade talks occasionally.
Echoing Justin Wick’s sentiments in the Tuesday Rockpile, this isn’t a Rockies story, but it’s still a big deal to the baseball world.
While we await formal punishment for the Red Sox in the sign-stealing scandal, there are plenty of people who believe that the Astros punishments of a $5 million fine, one-year suspensions for Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Lunhow, and loss of first and second round draft picks for the next two years was not enough. The Athletic’s baseball writer Jayson Stark reports that he got texts from many MLB executives that feel the same way. Many believe that justice would be better served with titles and wins taken away. Despite all the complaining (rightly) and desire to send a message to all teams to deter this behavior, Stark says that there is no way MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would ever take away a World Series title or wins for three reasons:
1. Taking away titles creates an “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” cascading slippery slope stat nightmare with more questions than answers. If the Astros title is taken away, do the Dodgers win or is no one the winner? Same thing for regular season games? Do stats and batting titles get stripped? It’s a mess that presumably no one wants to deal with.
2. There is no precedent. No steroid users or gamblers were stripped of stats or titles. They did get asterisks, shame and banishment from the Hall of Fame (so far), but their teams didn’t lose any wins.
3. Other sports don’t do it either. Otherwise the Patriots would be a whole different organization. However, Stark admits that the NCAA (USC, Reggie Bush, Louisville, etc.) and International Olympic Committee (Russia, Marion Jones, and dozens more).
Overall, Stark concludes by saying that baseball doesn’t take away or mess with stats and they likely never will. This is a pretty good assessment. And just philosophically, it just doesn’t seem like you can really ever take away a championship retroactively and have it mean much. However, I think that if you really do want to deter future cheating, in all sports, punishments should be greater. Bans from future playoffs? Bigger fines? Take away technology? (If you abuse the video reply feeds for reviews/challenges, you don’t get to have them anymore). I don’t know, but it does seem like some out-of-the-box thinking could help if we want to stop seeing the scandals that taint sports. If perennial contenders like the Red Sox and Patriots (hmm is there a theme here?) and others can get away with things with consequences that are worth facing to cheat, they always will.