Blue Jays Not Impressed with Kiermaier's Card Collection
In these modern times, one of the most basic understandings of property possession -- finders keepers -- is a hit-or-miss proposition.
- Treasure hunters discover more often than not that whatever they find is usually kept in whole or in part by the government; but
- Citibank recently found our the hard way that what companies lose belongs to whomever finds it.
Baseball sees this from a slightly different perspective:
- A finder may think he's a keeper, but maybe not for long, and
- It's almost certain that he's gonna get hit by a pitcher who isn't gonna miss.
Tampa Bay Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier can attest to this.
In Monday's game at the Trop against Toronto, dude got thrown out at the plate after his infield single turned into a trip around the bases when 3B Jake Lamb threw the ball away.
Dude wasn't necessarily on litter duty. He just noticed what looked like -- according to him, anyway -- his data card. That's what most players carry with them these days to know how they're pitching to and positioning against that particular game's opponents.
So he picked it up and sauntered along to the Rays' dugout.
That's when he noticed it wasn't his card. Instead, it belonged to Jay's C Alejandro Kirk and fell outta his wristband.
What's a finder to do?
- Kiermaier claims he didn't take a longer look at the card once he realized it wasn't his, so take that for what it's worth;
- Kirk -- from the Viking word kyrka, for church, proving yet again those dudes got around -- quickly discovered his was missing and there was only one person who coulda found it; so
- Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo sent their batboy to the Rays' dugout to retrieve it; but
- The Rays said no.
Actually, that Tampa Bay response was a classic in ironic snark, referring to TO's ace chucker Robbie Ray:
We can't get any hits off him, anyway.
Setting aside the fact that they collected seven of them and nicked him for three earnies in their 6-4 victory, this was kinda missing the point.
Ultimately, Rays manager Kevin Cash returned the card to the Jays and apologized to Montoyo.
Still, this incident underscores yet again the gray area between what baseball considers to be the difference between gamesmanship and cheating.
- The former seems to be anything that players can do to gain an edge that doesn't require extraordinary devices such as binoculars, cameras, and other tech.
- The latter is simply villainy, á là the 'Stros and BoSox.
However, right in the middle of that gray area is spitballer Gaylord Perry, who's in the Hall of Fame primarily because of that illegal pitch. So are a veritable litany of hitters who corked their bats.
Traditionally, the players themselves sort those distinctions out for themselves with their version of frontier justice.
Kiermaier can attest to that, as TO slinger Ryan Borucki dispensed the next night. Of course, the pitch that drilled Kiermaier was one that just got away, after which everyone nodded knowingly and then carried on.
Did all this bring any clarity to the issue?
The Rays were right that Robbie Ray is tough enough to hit, and chances are he's not gonna change his approach. It's doubtful that's gonna be news to Tampa Bay's hitters, too.
Among other factors, ballplayers show up at the yard around six hours before first pitch for a reason, and that includes time in the video room reviewing past ABs against the opposition's pitchers.
They know what's coming. They may not know when in a sequence it's coming, and that's usually the challenge. Even then, the axiom about the hardest skill in sports is hitting a round ball with a round bat and hitting it squarely is evidence enough as to how tough this game is to play.
In the end, it seems all Kiermaier did was save the groundskeepers an extra sweep or two. He may have been a finder, but in the bigger picture, he wasn't a keeper.
And he wore one for his troubles.