CC Sabathia is a Cy Young award winner, a championship series MVP, and a World Series champion. The 36-year-old is what they call a grizzled vet. Sabathia, a borderline Hall of Famer, has to know as a baseball player and a competitor that his comments post-game last Friday night were off. Sabathia called out the Red Sox lineup with no real justification. The 17-year vet, who may be coming up on retirement, knows bunting is part of the game. If Hanley Ramirez had lain down the bunt, Sabathia’s complaints would be more understandable, but still wrong.
Sabathia’s Complaints have Long-Term Effects
Bunting is, and always has been, part of Eduardo Nunez‘s game. When hearing the strong comments, former teammate and now public enemy number one to CC, Nunez, apologized! Imagine that, apologizing for laying down a below-average bunt. Sabathia’s complaints have long-term effects and could be beneficial down the stretch for the Bronx Bombers.
Jim Rice Reacts
Jim Rice, Red Sox analyst, let Sabathia know how off he was. Rice ripped Sabathia’s post-game remarks, and rightfully so. “What is he talking about, bunting is a part of the game,” Rice said on the Red Sox postgame show. He went on to crack a few wise ones about Sabathia and his weight. Funny, but just as far off as Sabathia is if he is serious about the bunting complaints.
Sabathia is 8-0 following a Yankees loss this season. He has owned the Red Sox all year (4-0, sub-2.00 ERA), and for a 36-year-old in the last year of a monster contract, he has been integral to the Yankees success this season. While Rice’s comments are comical and add to the greatest rivalry in sports, Rice may be missing the point of Sabathia’s outlash.
Complaining Never Works
This response from Sabathia not only brings attention to the issue that he can not field, but it lets teams know they can get under his skin. Something to watch over the next month will be teams bunting against Sabathia and how he reacts emotionally while on the mound. His inability to get off the mound quickly is something all teams know. Opponents will and should make him field his position. It is a clear weakness in his game, and whether its due to age, weight, or a combination of both doesn’t matter. It is a valuable advantage for every team he faces.
Sabathia’s message, with his “meet me out in centerfield” comments, is about the veteran trying to win the mental game within the game. “Baseball is 90% mental”, the late, great Yogi Berra always said. Sabathia gave this one, last-ditch effort. He went public and fired off in the month leading into the postseason. Games will rise in intensity, the game will slow down, players will think more. Sabathia is hoping players hear his voice in the back of their heads while facing him.
After two brutal seasons in 2014 and 2015, Sabathia’s transformation over the last two seasons has been nothing short of spectacular. Barring any major changes in the rotation, Sabathia will face the Baltimore Orioles twice, the Toronto Blue Jays twice, and the Tampa Bay Rays once. With the Wild-Card race bunched up, look for these teams to either put pressure on Sabathia, or for Sabathia’s mind games making them swing against him.
All September long, I will track Sabathia’s outings and bunt attempts against him, and the results of those bunt attempts. Look for a follow-up article after his final start of the season.