Championship season hangover?

As the MLB season is quarter of the way over, some are wondering whether the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs are dealing with a championship season hangover. No world series champion has repeated since the 2000 New York Yankees and Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated notes that, in the first 20 games the next season, champions have an average winning percentage of .569. However, when you look at the overall season, that number goes down to .535. In other words, the reigning world series champions winning percentage falls off by 43 points. What could be worrisome for some Cubs fans is that from 2000-2015, 7 of the 16 world series champions have made the playoffs the next season.

However, I am not worried about the Cubs not making the playoffs this year, but there are some concerns that the team will have to address in order to make another long playoff run. Two of their starters, John Lackey and Jake Arrieta both have an ERA of almost 5, and while their team ERA is 3.99, the team ERA was almost a run lower in 2016 (3.15)

Part of this is that Cub pitchers accumulated so many innings in 2016 that they may be going through a ‘dead arm period.’ Arrieta pitched 197.1 innings in 2016, Lackey 188.1, Kyle Hendricks 190 and Jon Lester surpassed 200. Another reason why the Cubs are not where they were last year at this time is that their offseason was cut short. Some of the players did not get much rest over the offseason, all the sudden Christmas comes along and it’s time to work out, plus spring training is only a month and a half away.

The defense is a cause for concern as in 2016, the team’s defensive efficiency rating was at .728. The defensive efficiency rate is the rate in which they turned batted balls into outs, was the highest since the 1991 Chicago White Sox. This year has been a different story as that number has dropped to .680, which is in the bottom 5 in the NL.

The Cubs should feel fortunate because other teams that made the playoffs in 2016 have seen their winning percentage drop. Take the San Francisco Giants, who had a .549 winning percentage in 2016, their winning percentage is well below .500, while the Cubs are slightly above .500.

If you look at recent history of teams that have won 100 games in the regular season, most of them lose in either the division or championship series. Yes winning 103 games like the Cubs did in 2016 looked good, but there are perils. Yes the Cubs made it look easy at times in the regular season last year, but they used a considerable amount of energy to get to the century mark.

Remember back in 2006, that team won 83 games, won the division and yes went on to win it all. There is something to be said to playing pre-playoff games in September and the Cardinals did not clinch a playoff spot until game #161 on October 1. Compare that to the Cubs world series championship, they won the division on September 15. As contradictory as this sounds, I would have preferred the Cubs to go through a stretch where they lost 5 of 6 because it can give the team the sense that despite what we have done, we are not unbeatable in a short series.

If the Cubs are to repeat this season, I would argue that going for 100 plus wins will not work. Furthermore, winning between 92-96 games is where I expect the team to finish and playing meaningful games deep into September is what can help accomplish the goal of winning another world series championship. The Cubs are not going through a hangover, but I am not surprised that they haven’t kept up with the 2016 record and I do not expect them to win 100 games, which may play to their advantage in October.

Advertisements

Ian Happ Should Stay in Chicago

Happy and you Know It

See? Rizzo agrees. 

It’s a small sample size, but the former University of Cincinnati Bearcat has made a fine case for the Cubs to keep him in the majors.  

The Cubs look like they are starting to get things together. After a rough couple of weeks, they’re beginning to faintly resemble the championship club from 2016. A big part of the Cubs’ recent success is their number two prospect, Ian Happ.

Originally drafted as a second baseman, Happ has been cross-trained to become the second coming of Ben Zobrist. The switch-hitting infielder by trade has not once started a game at his natural position since being called up (thanks to the Wizard of Puerto Rico Javy Baez). He debuted in right field and then proceeded to clobber his first MLB hit for a two-run homer off of up-and-coming Cub-killer Carlos Martinez. In his first game at Wrigley Field, Happ homered again, this time sending an outside pitch into the bleachers for an impressive opposite-field dinger. In the same game, he drew a crucial bases-loaded walk and has made a fine defensive play as well.

In just five games, Happ is hitting a solid .353 with two homers, and 4 RBI with an on-base percentage of .500. On top of those numbers, Happ has struck out as many times as he’s walked with five of each. For a 22-year-old, he’s shown tremendous poise at the plate and in the outfield. More importantly, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of where he was just one year ago.

At this time last year, Happ was the everyday second baseman for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Cubs’ Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Carolina League. The young prospect was hitting a mere .266 with the Pelicans before his club came to Lynchburg, Virginia. I had the chance to witness Happ in person, and he didn’t disappoint. He had a .333 batting average with a triple and 3 RBI in the four-game series against the Hillcats. He started one game in left field and the rest at second base. From the moment I personally watched him, it was apparent to me that the Cubs never planned on letting Happ get too comfortable in the infield. He shagged flies from his coaches in the outfield and practiced defending against runners tagging up on fly balls.

So far in Chicago, Happ has been parlaying those skills he learned in the minors quite nicely. His versatility, coupled with a healthy Ben Zobrist and Happ’s switch-hittting ability, makes it clear in my mind that Happ should stay put. Tommy La Stella is a solid backup infielder, but he can’t match the Pittsburgh native Happ in terms of power and defensive skills.

No one other than Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer knows for sure whether Happ will remain with the big club or go back to Iowa. But if it were my choice, I’d keep him right where he is. He’s certainly earned it.

Broadcaster Selfie

Adam Cipinko @Cipinko5

These Are Not Your World Champion Cubs Anymore, But That’s Okay

Bryant K'sAfter an uninspired start to the new season, it’s time for us all to admit that the party is over. But that doesn’t mean these 2017 Cubs can’t win it all again. 

In 2016, the Chicago Cubs looked unstoppable. On May 12th, they held a 25-8 record, seven games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates atop of the NL Central, and were 12-5 at Wrigley Field.  

Aside from playing one more game a year later, the 2017 Cubs have not dominated the league in the same way. So far, the defending champs are 17-17, hold fourth place in the NL Central behind the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and first-place St. Louis Cardinals, and are a lowly 7-9 at the Friendly Confines.

So, what’s changed so much in 365 days?

Well for starters, the starting pitching is lacking. After holding the league’s best ERA a year ago, the 2017 Cubs starters carry a 4.56 ERA. That’s the ninth-highest in all of baseball, a ranking made more clear by the Cubs rotation’s dubious stat of leading the majors with the most runs surrendered in the first inning.

Brett Anderson has been the weakest link in the rotation so far. Signed in the offseason to a one-year deal, Anderson is 2-2 with a team-worst 8.18 ERA and a whopping 13.9 hits per nine innings. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey haven’t fared much better. While both Arrieta and Lackey sport solid strikeout numbers (10.2 and 9.9 per nine respectively), they are giving up too many runs. Both with seven starts each, Arrieta is 4-2 with a 5.35 ERA, and Lackey is 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA. Those numbers must change if the Cubs expect to make a serious run for at least the division title.

Surprisingly, this is somewhat unfamiliar territory for this group of Cubs. Since the arrival of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber in 2015, Chicago has rarely fallen below .500. They were at .500 in one instance during 2015 after Bryant become a Major Leaguer on April 17th, 2015. But until 2017, they were never below .500. The last time the Cubs were a .500 team in 2015 was May 10th. Since then, they are a combined 202-125-1 (not including the postseason). Since Bryant’s debut, in particular, the Cubs have been at .500 merely six times (five of those instances in 2017) and below .500 twice (April 3rd and 17th of this season). We are living in the Golden Age of Cubs Baseball. The Cubs have never been this dominant during the regular season after the introduction of divisions in 1969. You have to go all the way back early in the pre-division era of Major League Baseball to find such a dominant group of Cubs.

If you’re like me and you find yourself surprised by the Cubs’ recent struggles, now you know why. It’s been more than two years since the Cubs have been a pedestrian club. But right now, that’s exactly what the Cubs are: pedestrian. As a team, they aren’t hitting nearly as well as they did a year ago. The bullpen outside of newcomer Wade Davis has been questionable. And as previously noted, the starters have not lived up to their very high expectations. Jason Heyward and Brett Anderson went on the DL after the conclusion of the previous homestand, paving the way for highly touted third base prospect Jeimer Candelario’s recent call-up. He impressed Joe Maddon in his first two games of 2017, so much so that he may have earned himself a starting job. This may well be a temporary arrangement, but then again Kyle Schwarber’s call to the show wasn’t expected to last more than a week in 2015.

Speaking of Schwarber, his .195 batting average hasn’t helped out a team with a combined .241 average, the 11th-lowest among all offenses in Major League Baseball. The lead-off experiment has failed, and hopefully, that means Schwarbs will return to a more natural place lower in the lineup. The loss of Dexter Fowler has certainly impacted the top of the order, but the offense still draws plenty of walks. Kris Bryant is the only everyday Cub hitting close to .300 (he currently has a .299 batting average entering Friday night).

Long story short, the Cubs are no longer the Murderer’s Row from 2016. They’re a .500 team hitting below .250 as a club and hemorrhaging runs in the first inning more than any other team in the league. These aren’t the World Champions. But it’s okay, folks. We’re only in May.

While they haven’t been the same club from last year’s World Series run, the Cubs have made more comeback wins than anyone else in the young season. That’s one positive to take away from this disappointing start to 2017. At the very least, the Cubs have shown that they can steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Such a skill helps win championships. You know, like what they did in Game 7 last November.

After a frustrating series against the New York Yankees and a lackluster showing against the Colorado Rockies, the North Siders find themselves back in the lion’s den when they return to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals beginning on Friday night. They fared well against St. Louis following a dramatic Opening Night loss in extra innings, winning the next two games by a combined score of 8-5. Starting pitcher Eddie Butler will make his Cubs debut and his first start since June 28th of last season as a member of the Rockies when he suffered a 14-9 loss to the Blue Jays at Coors Field. If Butler’s career 6-16 record and 6.50 ERA are any indications of his skill as a starter, he likely won’t be a long-term solution for that fifth spot in the rotation. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Cubs make a move for a starting pitcher at this year’s trade deadline. Will Thed likely make the leap for a top-line ace? One must think that they’ll make some phone calls, but they ideally wouldn’t unload a Baez or a Schwarber for such talent.

With prospects like Candelario and Ian Happ in the fold, it’s not crazy to think that the Cubs are pretty content with their situation. All that’s left is addressing the back-end of the rotation, figuring out who should lead off, and adding more reliable options in the bullpen to compliment Wade Davis. Unfortunately, we may never see another season like 2016.

But maybe we’ll be saying the same thing about 2017 next year.

Broadcaster Selfie

Adam Cipinko @Cipinko5

 

NL WEST BATTLE FOR 1st PLACE-DODGERS vs ROCKIES PREVIEW

mlb-dodgers-vs-rockies-odds-picks

The battle for NL West Supremacy starts tonight as the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Denver to battle the first place Colorado Rockies.  Both these teams are coming off huge series wins after the Rockies took advantage of an underachieving Cubs team and the Dodgers swept a Pirates team that looks more like potential sellers at the deadline with each disappointing loss.  The Dodgers and Rockies lineups are both having great offensive seasons, but this series really comes down to some outstanding pitching match-ups over the next four days.

Although the Dodgers were thrilled with their recent sweep of the Pirates, it unfortunately did come at a steep price.  Outfielder Andrew Toles tore his ACL while attempting to catch a fly ball that would have preserved the current ho-hitter starting pitcher Julio Urias was in the midst of.  Toles will miss the remainder of the season, but the silver lining is current rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger is likely to stay with the club for the remainder of the year since he is currently the best hitting outfielder on the LA roster and injuries are starting to pile of for the Dodgers.  Speaking of no-hitters, the Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez had a no-hitter going against the Cubs in the series finale yesterday until Kris Bryant was able to end it with a double in the 7th inning.  Both the Dodgers and Rockies had success against two different underwhelming NL Central teams this week, but tonight starts a four game series which will either keep Colorado atop the NL West, or see a power shift with the Dodgers taking over first place in the division.

The Match-ups and likely starters look like this for the series:

THURSDAY

Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA (LHP, 1-4, 4.04 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson, COL (LHP, 2-3, 6.69 ERA)

Thursday’s game might be the most important of the series since it could set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  Ryu last pitched for LA on 4/30 when he struck-out nine Philadelphia batters and recorded the win before heading to the DL.  Anderson is looking for his second win in a row after a tough start to the season that saw his ERA shoot up to 8.59 at one point, but his last outing saw him strikeout 10 Diamondbacks batters on 5/6.  Each team will be looking to get the W in tonight’s contest and likely are pleased it’s two “question mark” pitchers that’ll face off in the series opener.

FRIDAY

Clayton Kershaw, LA (LHP, 5-2, 2.40 ERA) vs Tyler Chatwood, COL (RHP, 3-4, 4.74 ERA)

Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 vs Colorado this season with a combined 16 strikeouts, while giving up 13 hits between the two contests.  Chatwood has seen his numbers get better this season after 7 starts and has yet to face LA this season but only has 1 actual win against a team over .500 this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a Dodgers lineup that is currently putting up more runs than any team in MLB.  If Kershaw can dominate and get run support from the LA lineup, the odds heavily favor the Dodgers in game 2.

SATURDAY

Alex Wood, LA (LHP, 3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland, COL (LHP, 3-2, 2.93 ERA)

Alex Wood vs Kyle Freeland could be the highlight match-up of this series since both players are off to fantastic starts this season.  Wood looks like he finally reaching his potential and meeting expectations after battling injuries the past two seasons and was outstanding against Pittsburgh when he struck out eleven batters while only giving up two hits and extended his winning streak to three games.  Freeland had a bad outing against the Cubs on Tuesday but has pitched very well against LA twice this season with a combined 9 strikeouts while giving up 8 hits.  This game starts a two game stretch of very interesting pitching match-ups to closeout this series featuring promising young talent.

SUNDAY

Julio Urias, LA (LHP, 0-0, 1.06 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela, COL (RHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA)

This is a great match-up to wrap up the series on Sunday since it’ll be the best young pitchers on each team facing off in the finale.  Urias flirted with a no hitter earlier this week, although Manager Dave Roberts insists that LA is standing firm on limiting Urias’ pitch count and he likely wouldn’t have been kept in once he reached his max pitch count.  Senzatela is coming off a solid performance against the Cubs and has won 5 of his 6 starts this season to help lead the Rockies to 1st place in the NL West.  Neither of these pitchers have faced the opponents this season and this pairing could be a preview of a pitchers’ duel we may see for years to come in the NL West.

This is should be a fun series for MLB fans over the next four days featuring two dynamic offenses and stellar pitching staffs.  Coors Field has always been know at a hitter’s park, but some of the best pitching in MLB resides on both rosters and will be showcased over the next four days.  No doubt, with 10 more games between the two teams left to be played this season, things are just starting to get interesting in the NL West with a battle for 1st place this weekend which quite possibly an early playoff preview.

The Rangers Need to Trade Yu Darvish, Here are Some Ideas…

texas_rangers-9679

The Texas Rangers are in big trouble right now, and it doesn’t look like things will get easier any time soon.  They just escaped getting swept by the 1st place Houston Astros last night and now head to Seattle to play three games in the Pacific Northwest against a Mariners team that plays far better at home opposed to the road.  The possibility of the Rangers getting swept this weekend is very real, meaning Texas could fall to at least 10 games behind the AL West leading Astros and panic will ensue…if it hasn’t already.  They currently sit 7 games back in the AL West, and it appears that the Astros will run away with this division if they continue their strong play and stay healthy.  The AL East already looks like a lock for the one game Wildcard Playoff (some combo of NY, BOS and BAL), so the Rangers have to clean house immediately and trade current players in order to help rebuild a farm system that only boasts 2 players in the MLB Top 100 Prospect list (#49 OF Leody Taveras and #50 LHP Yohander Mendez) or risk falling into obscurity for the foreseeable future.  That brings us to their next problem being that they have very few veteran players that are the least bit appealing on the trade market and ones that would be enticing are currently on the DL.  To make matters even worse for Texas, it was learned yesterday that ace Cole Hammels will miss at least the next 8 weeks due to injury, so let the Yu Darvish sweepstakes begin!!! Here are a few ideas as to where Darvish could be headed, and how the Rangers can help re-build in the process.  Yu Darvish not only the best trade asset Texas has, but could also be the best available pitcher in MLB via trade and teams will be lining up to add him to their rotations before the deadline.

CHICAGO CUBS

CUBS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Javier Baez – IF (Under team Control with Arbitration until 2021)

Baez

Jeimer Candelario – 3B (Hitting .333 in Iowa right now)

Jeimer

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS-

The Cubs offense is fine and in no way, shape or form does the absence of Javier Baez from the Cubs lineup hurt them offensively. The Chicago lineup is currently stacked, and let’s be honest here folks, Ian Happ WILL be your starting 2B for the next 8+ years once he arrives (which will be soon) and Baez will be the odd man out.  As For Candelario, he is having a great season in Iowa but the reality is that Bryant and Rizzo aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  No matter if it’s Texas or some Place else, he will be traded or be a reserve at best.  Baez and Candelario would give Texas 2 young players to add to the mix with Baez possibly taking Odor’s spot at second base and Candelario either moving to 1B or DH in the near future.  The only questionable position for the Cubs right now is pitching.  There is a really good chance that Darvish will leave Texas as an UFA so Rangers need to get what they can and this move gives the Cubs a Solid SP which is an instant upgrade from John Lackey and Brett Anderson.  If Darvish had numerous years remaining on his deal there is no doubt that Texas could get much more, but getting a king’s ransom for a “rental” player will likely scare away many suiters from over-paying.  Cubs have the luxury of being the reigning Champions and certainly have more than enough to win right now, but no sense in not making your team better if given the opportunity.  Since you never know when injuries will strike, there is no such thing as too much good pitching, and this move would be a win-win for both teams.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

DODGERS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Will Smith – C (2016 1st Round Pick)

Will Smith

Mitchell White – RHP (2016 2nd Round Pick)

White

Gavin Lux – SS (2016 1st Round Pick)

Lux

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

As a Die-hard Dodgers fan, I am in NO WAY sold on the LA starting pitching right now.  Dodgers have a #1 followed by question marks, inconsistent performances and injuries.  Adding Darvish to the LA rotation would be an immediate upgrade from anyone they have who isn’t named Clayton Kershaw.  “If” healthy (and I stress the “If”), a rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, McCarthy, Wood and Urias could certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.  Yes, as you made have noticed, I am being extremely optimistic about the LA health and outlook when I include McCarthy and Wood in a potential post season rotation for the Dodgers – but it’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, and I believe in the power of positivity (it’s a new day, yes it is!)  As for the Rangers, they would get to take advantage of LA in this deal by getting both of the Dodgers first round picks from 2016 along with a second round pick that surely has potential.  Will Smith has a few years to go, but he will become an MLB everyday starting Catcher down the road, and the same can be said about the young Gavin Lux.  With the emergence of Seager as the top young SS in MLB and top 2B prospect Willie Calhoun awaiting his call the MLB level, Lux will be the odd man out in LA, so his loss wouldn’t be as hard of a pill to swallow as would be the loss of Will Smith, BUT……if it gets the Dodgers a World Series Championship by adding Yu Darvish it’ll all be worth it.  Mitchell White would be a great addition for Texas as he certainly has a high ceiling and recently converted from a RP to SP.  This move would give the Rangers players that will need a few years to develop but that is a great way to bring along your farm system when your able to trade an UFA and get two first round picks along with a second round pick in return.

BOSTON RED SOX

BOSTON GETS

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

Adrian Beltre – 3B (UFA in 2019)

Beltre

A.J. Griffen – RHP (UFA in 2019)

AJ

TEXAS GETS

Pablo Sandoval – 3B (UFA in 2021)*Boston pays 100% of Sandoval’s contract

Pablo

Jay Groome – LHP (2016 1st Round Pick, #1 LHP in MLB Top Prospects list)

Groome

Michael Chavis – 3B (2014 1st Round Pick)

Chavis

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

This trade “technically” involves six players, but really only five since Texas would only take on the roster spot and not the contract of Pablo Sandoval.  This deal would actually be perfect for both team because of the two pitchers involved.  Boston would add Darvish to a rotation that could possibly look like Sale, Price, Darvish and Rodriguez as your one through four, with Porcello, Pomeranz and Griffin all competing for the five spot entering the postseason.  Boston would be adding Darvish, Griffin and also Adrian Beltre to a roster that is built to win and compete right now.  Beltre is an UFA in 2019 and it doesn’t appear as though he will get that chance to win a ring by remaining in Texas, and this move would allow him to move to a contender and play at 3B for at least the remainder of the season when he returns from injury and he would certainly be an upgrade from Sandoval.  I am totally aware that Jay Groom is the #1 LHP prospect in all of MLB, but Boston is in the most competitive division in baseball and by giving up their top pitching prospect, they would receive what could be the best SP that will be available by trade this season along with an outstanding player to cover 3B or be a DH in Beltre.  Texas, in return, would get a top pitching prospect to build around along with a young 3B in Michael Chavis that will give them flexibility at the corners along with the DH spot for the future.  Taking on Sandoval isn’t ideal, but if Boston was willing to cover his cost, it’s worth it to be able to develop young players during that time along with “tanking” for a few season in order to get those high draft picks.   If Boston was able to add another ring their recent collection, I don’t think they would have any issue giving up Groome and eating Sandoval’s contract to achieve that goal.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Yu Darvish will be traded this season due to the poor play of the Texas Rangers along with the recent loss of Cole Hammels to the starting rotation.  I truly believe that a large market team (like the Cubs, Red Sox, or Dodgers) will be willing to part with some key future assets and possibly current everyday players to add what might be the best player available at the deadline to their respective rotations.  It’s only the first week of May and things are already getting interesting in the MLB trade market, it’s already looking to be an interesting summer.

Human Decency Prevails in Boston…At Least for One Night

Adam Jones Fenway Ovation

Adam Jones receives a standing ovation from Red Sox fans at Fenway Park after facing racial heckling the night before.

Old wounds never truly heal. They scab over, leave behind scars, but they never go away. Such is the case with racism and the United States, specifically in sports.

Race plays an unfortunately big role in baseball. It’s been that way since the earliest days of the game. Some of the greatest players to ever play never got to do so in the majors thanks to Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ infamous Gentleman’s Agreement with MLB owners to keep non-white ballplayers out of the game. Eventually, progress would forever banish the old ways to the history books.

Color barriers were broken. Baseball opened its borders and eventually became an international phenomenon, forever changing the face of the sport. From Jackie Robinson to Luis Aparicio, Sandy Koufax to Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks to Roberto Clemente, Henry Aaron to Ichiro, Ken Griffey, Jr. to Andrew McCutcheon, Manny Ramirez to Manny Machado, baseball is now a game for more than just white men.

That sadly doesn’t prevent people from reminding us of the “good ol’ days.”

On Monday night, Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was heckled by unruly Boston fans at Fenway Park with some racial epithets. One fan, in particular, hurled racist remarks and a bag of peanuts at Jones while he was in the dugout. Rightfully upset at the events that transpired, Jones told the press that this night stood out for all of the wrong reasons:

“Tonight was one of the worst,’’ Jones said, slowly exhaling, “it’s different. Very unfortunate. It is what it is, right. I just go out and play baseball.

“But it’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m out there trying to make a living for myself and for my family.

“The best thing about myself is that I know how to continue to move on, and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.’’

He continued by stating that stadiums should enact harsher penalties on fans caught heckling players with racist taunts, including thousand-dollar fines and lifetime bans.

Should we still be surprised when drunk fans pop off “n-words” and other disgusting comments towards opposing black players anymore? No, but we should ideally strive to be something greater. Luckily on Tuesday night, the fans at Fenway rose to the occasion.

After the Red Sox and the mayor of Boston themselves issued public apologies to Adam Jones, fans at Fenway took it all one step further in the right direction.

Does this ovation undo the events from the night before? Hardly, but consider this. Adam Jones has spent his entire career as an opponent in Fenway. He has not once worn a Red Sox uniform, nor is he from the Boston area. Typically when an opposing player gets a standing ovation, they’re playing their first game against their former team or on their way to ending an outstanding career.

This is a classy move from a group of fans known for their rabid loyalty to their teams for better and for worse. Of course, racist insults aren’t exclusive to just Bostonians.

Far too many fans across the spectrum of professional sports throw racial slurs at opposing players. This has been a problem since day one of American sports and continues to plague leagues across the world. Just ask American soccer player Jozy Altidore or Canadian hockey forward Wayne Simmonds. This isn’t news to anyone paying attention.

Perhaps the Adam Jones Incident stands out more than it usually would thanks to the current political climate. We live in a time where the President of the United States signs executive orders to ban refugees from Muslim countries, pledges to build a wall to keep Mexicans from crossing the border, hires known anti-Semites and racists to influential positions within his administration, and whose very election elicted celebratory hate crimes around the nation. Racism is not some marginal issue that happens in the backdrop of our daily lives.

It’s alive, well, and spreading.

The ovation for Jones at Fenway shines a glimmer of hope for the future. Even though the Red Sox and Orioles continue a crazy feud that has boiled between both clubs since Opening Week, we as baseball fans can look proudly at the moment Red Sox fans decided to embrace Adam Jones the human being despite the color of his jersey.

But we can’t forget about the event that sparked Tuesday’s nice moment in the first place.

Earlier that day, a few Cubs were asked to provide their thoughts on the Adam Jones Incident. Jason Heyward, Carl Edwards, Jr., and Kyle Schwarber all provided good takes. But the best statement came from the skipper himself, Joe Maddon. After recalling an incident from the ’80s that disturbed him during his days in minor league baseball, Joe offered a simple solution:

“At some point, you have to do something about it,” Maddon said. “You can’t just listen to it.”

One round of applause can’t erase decades of ignorance. It can, however, begin to cover that old wound with some sort of protective dressing. It may feel like using a bandaid to cover the Grand Canyon, but it’s better than enlarging that gap with an earthquake.

So for one night, let’s salute the Fenway faithful for showing some measure of decorum and humanity. Everyone can take away an iota of knowledge with them to help combat the next racist outburst, no matter where it is or whomever throws that stone.

Friends don’t let friends degrade society with ignorant prejudice and malice. We don’t have time for any of that anymore.

Broadcaster Selfie

Adam Cipinko @Cipinko5