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Why I can safely hate the Giants again

June 4, 2011

No sooner had I congratulated the San Francisco Giants for committing to make an “It Gets Better” video than their general manager, Brian Sabean, gave the baseball world a demonstration of how to make things much, much worse.

Of course, I probably don’t feel as silly as San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins, who, just hours before Sabean snarled his playground threats over the airwaves, published a piece on the Posey/Cousins saga that ended thus:

There will be no rule change. Too many former catchers (including Joe Torre, who oversees baseball operations) have voiced that opinion, for there will always be do-or-die plays in which violence is the only path to victory. There just might be room, though, for the onset of civility.

Whoops! So much for “civility.”

Does anyone not blinded by angst over the (admittedly devastating) loss of Buster Posey really think Cousins was driven by malice? Does anyone seriously believe he was trying to break bones, rather than simply to score the winning run? Does anyone not understand that if he hadn’t gone into the plate as hard as he did and won the game for the Marlins, he’d have been ripped by his local sports media for being too soft, too tentative, too girly? This wasn’t Juan Marichal clubbing John Roseboro, or Roger Clemens throwing a splintered bat at Mike Piazza’s feet, or Johnny Cueto kicking Jason LaRue in the head. This was a clean, aggressive play that ended incredibly badly.

Let’s have a quick rundown of all the reasons that Brian Sabean needs to say two more words—“I’m sorry”—and then quit talking for a while.

1) He’s a hypocrite. Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus has compiled an entertaining list of other home-plate collisions that Sabean was happy to sign off on, because they didn’t end with his reigning Rookie of the Year disabled for the season.

2) He’s not really one to talk about the importance of playing clean. Remember, this is the same GM who had no trouble keeping his mouth closed when trainer Stan Conte told him that he had two steroid distributors working in his own clubhouse.

3) The Giants ought to be especially sensitive to the dangers of fanning flames between rival teams. As far as I can tell, Sabean has never gone on the record to talk about the brutal beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium in April. But he was only too eager to incite fans in San Francisco and Florida with a litany of vaguely menacing hints about what might happen between them in the days to come.

4) He gave Barry Zito a seven-year, $126-million deal. I know, I know, that’s got nothing to do with Posey or Cousins, but it should automatically destroy his credibility and consign him to a life of respectful silence nonetheless.

Get a grip, Sabean, and use your clichĂ©s: It is what it is. That’s baseball.

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