MIAMI, FL: Protesters rally outside a press conference held by Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his pro-Castro comments. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
There sure were an awful lot of things to talk about over the course of the first half of the 2012 MLB regular season. There were so many things to talk about that you've probably forgotten about most of them.
One of the awesome and overwhelming but mostly awesome things about baseball is that, once it gets going, it's going all the time, every day. With rare exception, which we'll talk about a little later. Football, for example, has week-long gaps in between game days, so too much is made of too little by necessity to fill in the gaps. On a league scale, baseball doesn't have any gaps in between game days, so the volume of things to talk about is practically limitless. There is always something. There are always several things.
Over the course of the first half of the 2012 regular season -- which is complete, hence this break -- we talked about so many things. There were so many huge, or fascinating, or huge and fascinating stories that were given approximately the coverage they deserved. But after each story, we quickly moved on to the next, because we simply didn't have time to linger. With the baseball news cycle constantly churning, one can't afford to fall behind. So so much of what gets talked about ends up being forgotten about once enough new things are talked about. You follow? Memories get replaced by new memories because our brains can't accommodate all memories.
As this is a day without baseball -- the only day without baseball -- it's a day to reflect. What I'm choosing to do here is briefly reflect on some of the first half's biggest stories or events that might've slipped your mind, because they basically all slipped mine. This is a post intended to make you think "oh yeah, that did happen." Join me as I jog our memories, only to have these memories forgotten again tomorrow or soon.
Stories and events are listed in no order, except for in the order in which they're listed. This list is incomplete and feel free to highlight more forgotten stories in the comments. If you don't come away from this thinking "holy crap the baseball season is long," then I've failed as a writer.
Ozzie Guillen and Fidel Castro
Guillen was the high-profile Latin manager brought in by the new-look Marlins as part of a sweeping attempt to drum up interest by appealing to the local Latin community. Many members of that community are Cuban, and Guillen elected to say "I love (Fidel) Castro" in a magazine interview. There were immediate protests at the stadium, Guillen was suspended, and people wondered whether the right move for the Marlins might be to just let Guillen go. It all died down in time, and now that it has, it's easier to look back and just think "lol what?" That is among the literal worst things Ozzie Guillen could have said! He literally could not have said many worse things!
One thing we never got to hear about was Castro's response. Sometimes in movies and sitcoms, when there's a developing relationship, one of the people says "I love you" too soon before the other person is ready, and shit gets all awkward with "thank you"s and the like. We know how Ozzie Guillen feels about Fidel Castro, but to my knowledge we don't know how Fidel Castro feels about Ozzie Guillen. This is an angle unexplored.
Tokyo opener (or Tokyopener!)
The 2012 regular season began not with the Marlins and Cardinals in Miami, but with the Mariners and Athletics in Tokyo, Japan. The games were broadcast dark and early in the morning, Oakland couldn't even see them, several more days passed before the regular season resumed, and the teams involved were the Mariners and the Athletics. It was as if Major League Baseball lost a bet to Japan and had to give them meaningful games, but then did everything in its power to make sure nobody noticed. Stateside, the M's and A's might as well be invisible, and overseas, receiving and hosting the M's and A's is more of a punishment than a reward. NPB is expected to experience a period of revitalization as young Japanese players around the country decide they don't want to play in the majors after all.
For multiple days, a big story that actually became a national story was that Josh Beckett went golfing on an off-day. Beckett was injured at the time and it was interpreted as just another sign that Beckett doesn't take his career or the Red Sox very seriously. Beckett replied that golfing didn't aggravate his injury in any way and that, again, it was a day off. Somehow Beckett's answers were insufficient and people wondered whether he should just be cut. As it happens, Beckett's numbers are in fact down, but he went golfing and didn't hurt himself. The Boston media are ducks in a park. The journalists aren't like what you think ducks are like. They're like what ducks are actually like.
Players and coaches flip out at umpires on a daily basis, but Lawrie's flip-out was exceptional, complete with curse words and a helmet-spike. It's probably the flip-out of the season to date, and it earned Lawrie a suspension. Lawrie acted unprofessionally, although you could say the strike calls that provoked him were also unprofessional, by which I mean they were bad. I don't know exactly how forgotten this incident is now, but I think now when people think about the Blue Jays, all they can think about is how the entire pitching staff needs Tommy John surgery. Before long the Blue Jays are going to stop having pitchers and they'll just ask Jose Bautista to hit baseballs at the catcher from the mound. I don't know if Jose Bautista can bat a slider, but maybe that's just as well since every slider a Blue Jays pitcher has thrown this season has torn a ligament.
I'll admit that I'm including this one just because it's a personal favorite. It wasn't a huge deal at the time, but it should've been, because on April 18, against the Angels, Colon threw 38 strikes in a row. Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes. On average, Kyle Drabek would need 70 pitches to throw 38 strikes. Colon needed 38 pitches to throw 38 strikes. I'm not going to walk you through the math but trust me when I say that the probability here is unfathomably low. On the upside, Bartolo Colon made (recent) history. On the downside, now Colon has no excuse for ever walking a batter again in his life. When a regular pitcher walks a batter, it's like, all right. When Colon walks a batter, it's like, what the f*** is the matter with you?
There are five first-half stories that are forgotten or mostly forgotten. Now they are less forgotten than they were when you woke up this morning. I could've written about several more, including: Delmon Young getting shitfaced and hating on Jews, everybody shifting infields, the Braves looking terrible in spring training and later losing a bunch of games in a row, Chris Perez blasting Indians attendance, the existence of Ryan Madson, Will Rhymes getting hit by a pitch in the forearm and passing out, Terry Collins removing David Wright from a game fearing hit-by-pitch retaliation, Bobby Abreu complaining about Mike Scioscia and the Angels in the press, and Lance Berkman accusing MLB of extortion. And other things. We allow ourselves to get so swept up in the little pictures. It's part of the fun of a sport that never takes a break (except for this break right now). But while we're always seeing new pictures, sometimes it's worthwhile to flip back in the album.