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Monday, October 15, 2007

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i'll root for anyone but the rocks at this point, simply because i could do without witnessing a celebratory prayer circle and book burning.

Agree with bathtubhippo 100%. I can't root for a team with an official religion.

"Buzzsaw" is a word I've been using since they finished out the season 13 of 14 against top NL competition. That kind of momentum is hard to stop. We (and the rest of the NL) were as good as dead when the Pods managed to lose each of the last 2 to the Brewers. The only remaining question is how many games an AL team superior on paper can win.

Since the Diamondbacks are obviously not going to give me any help in beating this GD team, I'm officially rooting for one of the two AL teams to demolish them. I'm hoping that, should they end up sweeping tonight, the long layoff before the WS makes them cool off. At least we know they'll have to face some real pitching.

The phrase "Colorado Rockies 2007 World Series Champions" makes me retch.

The Indians and Red Sox are superior to any team the Rockies faced down the stretch or in the postseason. I wouldn't put it past the Rockies to win it all, but I am looking forward to a World Series that might actually be competitive for the first time since 2003.

exactly, i've got no problem with a team having a moral code of some kind. the phillies could learn a thing or two from the rockies about handling breaches of..err...reasonable behavior from players. also, i'm not saying that the rockies haven't performed well and wouldn't deserve a title at this point. it's just that, from what i've read about the rocks, it's all taken too far for me, ie the locker inspections, pregame prayer groups, etc.

really, the last thing i want to see is a bunch of these guys (their ownership included) claiming that god was on their side and that's why they won, etc.

Posting from Germany here. Let me just say, I don't care if god is on their side or not. They're going to lose to the AL team regardless.

Bathtub: Jimmy Rollins points toward the sky every time he reaches base. Do you hold that against him as well?

J,

I agree with bathtub, and I think a guy's personal beliefs are nobody's business. J-Roll pointing to the sky, Helton wearing his cross outside his jersey, etc., no problem with any of that stuff.

However when religion is a TEAM policy starting with the management, that starts to border on creepy.

I think what you're proposing as a counterpoint, J, is a very very different thing than what bathtub is talking about.

I thought J-Roll pointed to the sky because he was a big fan of airplanes flying overhead...

So we should root against the Rockies because you find Christianity to be creepy? About 75-85 percent of Americans would disagree ...

J,

No, I think you should root for whomever you please. Just like I think you should follow whatever religion you please.

I choose not to root for them because I find making any religion, regardless what it is, a matter of corporate, political, or MLB team policy creepy.

Whether or not I find their religion ITSELF creepy has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

I wouldn't work for a company that used a specific religion as a primary guideline for recruitment or corporate policy. I don't intend to root for a team that does that either.

@robust: my sentiments exactly. it's the organization-wide policy that rubs me the wrong way. that article more or less spells out precisely why i just can't get behind the rockies.

@j: not really fair to conclude that i am anti-christian as a whole based on a quip about book burning (well, i am anti-bookburning), and because i have a problem with religion as policy at an organizational level.

but, hey, that's my preference, it may not be yours.

Robust: Fair enough.

Bathtub: I apologize for taking your book-burning quip the wrong way.

By the way, I couldn't care less about all this. What I see is a team that takes its farm system seriously and knows how to judge talent.

J,

We agree 100% there. The Rockies have made smart BASEBALL decisions with their young talent. I wish there was more focus on their BASEBALL decisions than this religious stuff.

I'd also just like to see a competitive series, and I think the Rockies are certainly more likely to provide stiffer competition to whichever AL team comes out on top.

After an 83 win team winning the WS last year and the potential of the Rockies winning this year, you have to wonder if there is going to be some discussion about changing the playoff format in some fashion, right?

Its no longer about the best team winning, but the hottest team down the stretch (which sadly is why I thought the Phils actually had a shot).

the cardinals were the least hot team down the stretch last year. They were colder than a witches teet.

Can't believe Rockies are strictly a christian team - meaning no Jew Muslims or budhists or even athiests are not permitted to be on team or at least play. I am not christian but I believe USA is a Christian country even some are not. So by them stating they are christians does not bother me.

After the Rockies made quick work of the Phils, I decided I was going to root for them to win it all. To be honest, they have an exciting young ball club that plays GREAT fundamental baseball. If some of their young pitching progresses next season and they're able to keep the nucleus of the offense together...watch out NL!

fljerry, that's sort of how I feel. This is a baseball blog, and I prefer to read and post about issues relating to the play of baseball.

I think all this "righteous indignation" expressed by some of the posters on this site because the Rockies have publicly revealed that the majority of the players are Christians is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

As far as the Rocks are concerned, their young pitchers seem to be stepping it up recently, and have had much to do with the hot streak.

There was much discussion on this board about the D-backs run differential vs. their W-L record, so I ask:

Is that run differential finally coming back to haunt them in this series?

AWH: I definitely prefer to talk baseball on this blog. The Rockies chose to make it an issue, not me or bathtub. This will be the last I'll mention it though, there are plenty of reasons the Rockies are kicking the tar out of teams that have absolutely nothing to do with religion and everything to do with solid baseball.

AWH: I think that certainly has something to do with it. You can only ride out that kind of luck for so long, and some of it HAS to be luck when there is that much disparity between your Pythagorean W-L and your actual W-L.

AWH:

I agree with this:

"This is a baseball blog, and I prefer to read and post about issues relating to the play of baseball."

I think most of us would prefer to talk about baseball issues. Stats, contracts, performances, personnel moves. People on Beerleaguer are hardcore baseball fans.

That said, some people get creeped out when a team seems to be saying they have an official team religion as part of their program. You can say it's "a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing", but it just gives some people the willies, no matter what religion it might be.

If the Rockies win the Series, I feel safe in saying it is because they put together a really talented team, and got flaming hot at the right time. What hand a higher power might have in it, I have no clue.

AWH,

You obviously either don't know what the issue is, or you prefer to dissimulate.

No one cares that "the majority of the players are Christians." That is probably true of every team, in every North American, South American, and European sport.

The point is when "Christian standards" are used to exclude players. Not only is it offensive, it is illegal.

If you want to talk baseball, that's fine, because you obviously don't know sh*t about this.

The D-Backs look weak from what I've watched of the games. They don't have much of an offense. I find it fascinating that the Rockies have won by just totally shutting teams down with their pitching, as apposed to outslugging teams with their offense.

Boy I needed some time for that muted whimper of an exit to sink in... One week later the abiding memory of my first post-season is not the series itself but the aftermath: reeling away from the PC, stunned, the gut-shot pain gradually fading into a deep spiritual bruise. Strange that the elation of snatching the division can fade to nothing so quickly and so quietly.

So I'll be clinging to the memories of an unbelievable comeback, of 3 1/2 weeks of spirited chase that ended in one delirious day of possibilities. Sure they didn't pan out, but the memory of that final out against Washington will be with me for a lifetime. For now at least my inner Phan is at peace.

Thanks JW for Beerleaguer and to everyone else for the good times, the quick wit and camaraderie. I only stumbled across this place at the very death of the season, but I will certainly stick around.

I'm neither a Christian nor a Christian basher, but if that article is true, then Bathtub's right: this is a team we should root against.

According to the article, the team has an express policy of hiring as many Christians as they can. Doesn't that policy violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (It shall be unlawful . . . to fail or refuse to hire . . . any individual . . . because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin)? And this business about actively encouraging their employees to attend church is also, undoubtedly, illegal.

Would everyone here be ok if the Rockies had an express policy of hiring as many white players as they could hire? Or if the team were run by Buddhists, would everyone be ok with the GM "strongly encouraging" all the players to attend Buddhist religious sessions in their spare time?

I am going to stick with my orginal statement after last Saturday night.

The Rockies simply are the best team at this moment. They are getting outstanding pitching, timely hitting and playing air-tight defense.

Everytime I see them play, I am reminded more and more that the Rockies won the series more then the Phillies lost it.

I think some people didn't see it that way and hope they now see the light.

I'm neither a Christian nor a Christian basher, but if that article is true, then Bathtub's right: this is a team we should root against.

According to the article, the team has an express policy of hiring as many Christians as they can. Doesn't that policy violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (It shall be unlawful . . . to fail or refuse to hire . . . any individual . . . because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin)? And this business about actively encouraging their employees to attend church is also, undoubtedly, illegal.

Would everyone here be ok if the Rockies had an express policy of hiring as many white players as they could hire? Or if the team were run by Buddhists, would everyone be ok with the GM "strongly encouraging" all the players to attend Buddhist religious sessions in their spare time?

kdon, I didn't read anywhere in the article that players who are non-Christian are "excluded".

It would be a stupid baseball decision if they did.

b_a_p, I'm quite sure the Rockies are doing nothing illegal, or action would have already been brought against them, as the article appeared in June '06.

You, kdon and others are not making the distinction between 'requiring'and 'encouraging', and are taking much of what appeared in the article out of context.

And further, kdon, Christianity is not a religion of exclusion, but rather one of inclusion - all are invited. If the Rockies have players who don't participate in the prayer session, etc., I'm sure that's fine with the team - as a matter of fact, the article said so.

Besides, as I said, if they perform on the field and stay out of trouble off of the field, I'll be dollars to doughnuts the team wants them there.

@j: no worries, it's good to spur on some debate and conversation, as long as nobody is wearing thin, thin skin today!

@AWH: it's not about the players being predominantly christian at all, it's about a organization-wide policy of structuring personnel decisions and player/employee behavior around a conservative christian moral code. that said, as far as i can tell, no one is excluded for being a non-christian, but you have to respect and obey an explicitly christian code of conduct. that can't be a fun place to play for some guys...although winning probably makes it a lot easier!

ultimately, it's a private organization, and they can run their team any way they want within the bounds of the law, but it doesn't mean i agree with it, and it doesn't mean i have to like or support it. so i won't. it also doesn't mean i haven't been impressed with their talent and the way they play the game.

I only go to church a handful of times a year. But I can't stand religion-bashers. It's freedom OF religion in the country. Not freedom FROM religion.

AWH,

Here is the quote from the article:

"they have an explicit policy to recruit as many Christian ball players as they can."

This may not technically "exclude" other religions, but it functions in the same way.

Imagine if the policy were:
"they have an explicit policy to recruit as many WHITE ball players as they can."

Also, imagine if MLB itself adopted this policy. Would you be okay if basball as a whole had an "explicit policy to recruit as many Christian ball players as they can."

The point is not that players on the Rockies are being forced into Christianity, but that those who are not Christians who want to earn their living playing baseball have less of a chance to play for one of its teams.

And see this quote from Sweeny:

"You wonder if some people are going along with it (the Christian environment) just to keep their jobs."

It's seems like their is a lot of evidence that the Rockies have a workplace that encourages Christians, and creates a hostile (or, at the least, uncomforatable) work environment.

This is not accepable.

"kdon, I didn't read anywhere in the article that players who are non-Christian are "excluded".

It would be a stupid baseball decision if they did."

AWH, from the Rockies perspective, it wouldn't be stupid, becasue they believe that a) Christians make better ballplayers and b) God favors their team becasue they are Christians.

Maybe it is one of those years for the Rockies since guys like Yorvit, Matsui, and Fogg are carrying them. Hell, you know that when a marginally-talented journeyman like Fogg pitches well enough to acquire a nickname things are rolling your way.

It does make it a bit more frustrating though that the Phils lost to the Rockies because this DBacks team is pretty flawed. People talk about all the great young talent they have. I agree but to a point.

If anything, they have a great No. 1 (Webb) and had some incredible luck in getting career years out of a bunch of the guys in the bullpen. I could easily see the DBacks sliding back to a .500 team next year.

In retrospect, I think we will lament that the Phils missed a golden opportunity to make the World Series this year.

"Hell, you know that when a marginally-talented journeyman like Fogg pitches well enough to acquire a nickname things are rolling your way."

hilarious and true.

and, to think, we might have won it all if not for an undershirt.

not to divert the thread from this discussion of how Christian is too Christian, but I found this post interesting given earlier discussions of Howard's development as a consistent power hitter, or lack thereof.

theoretically, if the red sox and rockies meet in the world series, how awkward will it be when youkilis is introduced?

C'mon. All this Christian talk from the Rockies is just a smokescreen to cover the rather obvious fact that they have made a deal with the devil. Winning all but one game down the stretch and into the post-season is beyond being "hot." It's beyond anything natural and normal. They are the spawn of Satan. And that is what should be investigated!

Well, kdon, if they really feel God favors their team because they are Christians, then they are truly misguided. What about the Christians who play for the other team?

I read nowhere in scripture that God is a baseball, or even sports, fan, and "Angels in the Outfield' notwithstanding, I have a hard time believing God would favor one group of Christian players over another.

AWH,

The date on the article is 10-15-07, not some date in 2006. Besides, you can't seriously believe that the legality of the Rockies' policy is measured by whether or not any legal action has been taken against them.

If the team has an "express policy" of hiring as many Christian players as they can, it's a civil rights violation. Just read the text of the law. "Encouraging" players to attend religious functions is a murkier legal question & is probably a matter of degree. Are they just handing out fliers, or are they actually pressuring employees to attend? The key would be whether or not the team is sending the signal that attendance at the function is linked to continued employment, pay raises, promotions, etc. That's a grey area & who knows what a jury might decide? That's why employers would do well to keep religion out of the workplace entirely -- unless, of course, the employer is a church.

Ae,

Very interesting reading -- and, ironically, exactly the opposite of what I would have expected with Howard. My gut level impression was that Howard hits his homeruns in bunches, but also goes through a lot of long, protracted slumps. Apparently that's not true -- at least with regard to his homerun production.

It would be interesting to see a similar statistic that could be pinned to hits or batting average. This would really tell you which players are "streak hitters" and which are consistent from day-to-day. Again, going by nothing more than gut impression, it has always been my theory that, though a strong hitting team, the Phillies have too many streaky hitters. But my gut impression is, of course, stilted because the Phillies are the only team I follow from day to day throughout the season. So I'd be curious to see if there is statistical support for my theory.

MG: I think you're missing the bigger point: Marginal players like Yorvit, Matsui, and Fogg are performing way beyond their abilities because God wants the Rockies to win. I've wondered about this, but when I saw Fogg hold the D'Backs to 1 run, I concluded that there is no other rational explanation.

I try to remind myself that the Rockies had five things "go their way" over the last three days of the regular season just to make the playoffs

Saturday - Padres lose and Rockies win
Sunday - Padres lose and Rockies win
Monday - The one game playoff/tie-breaker

Not sure if I am more mad at Trevor Hoffman and the Padres or the Brewers for not rolling over (tounge in check)

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Go to this site & sign our petition
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bay-area-phan

I've had a similar perception, especially with respect to Howard and Utley. Howard's slumps seem magnified, probably because of how dominant he can be when he's on a roll. It has always seemed to me that Chase can get into a funk that lasts several games. He seems to straigten out quicker to me, maybe because of his smooth, compact swing; or maybe just because his doubles make less of a splash than Ryan's 400 foot opposite field home runs.

That is one of the beauties of Beerleaguer to me. I'm constantly picking up new knowledge backed by statistics that sometimes shatters (and once in a while confirms) my perceptions.

Although you do develop a visceral dislike of your team's opponents during a series, I'm pulling for the Rockies. As others have said, they play the game right, not too many egomaniacs on the squad, and I like how they kind of quietly go about their business without a lot of the drama that some teams have. I can't help but remember when Alfonsecca took that shot at Helton's head a few weeks ago and nearly connected. Helton just dusted himself off, no glares at the pitcher or exchange of words, and went to first. And their team went on to kick our butts. That speaks a lot louder than words.

Not too crazy about public displays of religion or discussions of it by the players in interviews; but honestly, I saw most of the last six Rocks/Phils games and I did not even notice it until it was called to my attention on this site. Maybe I missed some post game interviews.

Part of me would like to see an NL team win as well. I know, the AL teams are better overall, but it stinks watching them dominate the all-star games year after year. Hope the Rocks are eating their Wheaties, though. From what I've seen on the tube, Boston and Cleveland both look tough and determined. Glad to see Sizemore making a statement, and had hoped that was the type of statement that Chase was going to make post season. Oh well, next year...

God has absolutely 0 interest in baseball or else the Yankees wouldn't have 26 championships and the Phils 1. Although, that doesn't stop Tampa Bay from playing it safe and dropping the "Devil" from its name. Pansies.

Personally, I find it ironic that Coors Brewing Co is so active in the Christian environment.

"Do you see what God did to us man?!! Dr. Gonzo/Colorado Rockies.

While I may have Colorado's back in the playoffs, I have to admit that Holliday still hasn't touched home plate.

"I've wondered about this, but when I saw Fogg hold the D'Backs to 1 run, I concluded that there is no other rational explanation."

When God becomes a "rational explination" you know you are in trouble.

"Well, kdon, if they really feel God favors their team because they are Christians, then they are truly misguided."

AWH, yes, they do, and they are. Read the article again.

ae, interesting link, but it seems to me that the author is assuming (rather than answering) the most interesting question: Is a consistent hitter more important than a streaky hitter?

It's interesting that Howard isn't as streaky as some thought, but does that matter?

In the Sanders example, it's pretty clear that the back that got you 5 yards *every carry* is more valuable than Sanders, but I think the distinction is only clear in extreme cases.

In the case of these hitters however, I think the standard deviation of the length between HR is close enough to basically be meaningless.

It's interesting as an academic excercise, but I would think the value in consistency that someone like Pena would have over A-Rod would likely be erased by one or two HR.

I'm with you, Bob. The only people I see being 'holier-than-thou' are the ones who are going out of their way to crucify the Rockies for very peripheral reasons. When you watch the games, they act like baseball players. I don't see crosses being waved in anyone's faces, or 'John 3:16' scrawled on batting gloves. There is no evidence whatsoever when the Rockies play the games that they are different from any other team. Leave it at that. I find it very hard to root for a thug like Brett Myers because of what he does off the field, but the Rockies' religious affiliations don't deter me from rooting for them. From my vantage point, they're a team that's had very little success their existence, and suddenly everything is rolling right for them. It's hard not to identify with that. I feel good for the fans there who have stuck it out all those years, rather than simply associating everyone in Denver with the evil Coors Brewing Co.

Im still a little confused by the post last week that said Garrett Atkins is a jerk. Is there any truth to that? I thought we might have a chance to get a good young player with the Utley connection.
Religious beliefs aside, you cant discount what the Rockies have been able to do in the last 22 games.

"I'm with you, Bob. The only people I see being 'holier-than-thou' are the ones who are going out of their way to crucify the Rockies for very peripheral reasons."

Well said, RSB.

Uh oh, now we're talking about crucifying.

get real, guys. the comment by "bob" was the only completely unconstructive comment on the whole rockies/religion controversy. nobody in this topic was bashing religion.

Tune in today for the Indians-Sox series. Plenty of interesting plots and a ton of talent on the field between these two teams. This is the real World Series.

"I find it very hard to root for a thug like Brett Myers because of what he does off the field"

not me. not only am i anti-religion, i've always been strongly pro-wife beating. check my past posts!

kdon,

You're right. The article assumes, but does not prove, that the more consistent player is the more valuable one. That seems intuitively correct to me, but who knows? An argument could be made that a maddeningly streaky player like Burrell is actually more valuable to his team than a player with identical numbers, but greater consistency throughout the season. After all, when Burrell's on, the Phillies can win games even though 3 other key guys in the lineup went hitless.

Frankly, I think it would be difficult to prove whether the consistent player is more valuable than the equally productive, but inconsistent one. I think the answer would largely depend on what is happening, at any particular point in time, with the other 8 guys in the lineup.

well, I think it's a misinterpretation to say that the blogger is arguing that more consistency is always better. I'm pretty sure he's not saying that Pena is more valuable than Rodriguez. I think he's talking about a consistency metric just as a supplement to something like a career batting line, which isn't always that helpful in telling you how a player actually performed.

for instance, you could say that Eddie Murray was more consistent than Mark McGwire (for the sake of the argument). that doesn't mean Murray's better, just that it's another way of comparing two careers (or seasons, which is just a different timescale).

Sorry, if this has already been posted, but just to show that the controversy has not ended -

http://www.hollidaynevertouchedtheplate.com/

I have to say I admire a website with such a well defined mission statement - "This site’s primary intent is to establish the fact that Matt Holiday never touched the plate."

ae, I see what you are saying. But I do think the author is arguing that *with similar numbers* Pena would be more valuable.

If he isn't trying to argue one way or the other about the value of consitency, then what is the point. Why have a metric that doens't say anything at all about a player's value?

kdon, I think the point would be that with some kind of theoretical "consistency" metric, maybe it would be possible to apply some kind of statistical investigation and find out how valuable consistency is.

beyond that, I think the answer to your question would be just because it's a neat little toy. I mean, baseball-reference's ability to tell you what Ryan Howard's stats would have looked like for the 1968 Dodgers or which player's career Cole Hamels is most similar to at age 23 are not technically "useful," but they're interesting to look at anyway.

maybe I'm misinterpreting the guy's aim, but that's how I saw it.

Too bad our Phillies Phaith wasn't strong enough to get us past the Rockies. Perhaps God was punishing us for turning faith into a marketing slogan? Or perhaps God punished us for not having enough pitching, or timely hitting?

Seriously, as a committed Christian and pastor-to-be, I find the Rockies Organization's embrace of religion to be misplaced. When non-religious organizations begin incorporating overt signs of religion into their work - whether it is a baseball team or government or plumber who puts a Christian fish symbol on the back of his truck and on his business cards (as if that makes him a good plumber!) - I get suspicious about their motivations. At the least this is a good marketing move for the Rockies - Colorado is home to some of the most conservative Christian organizations in the country.

Christian faith, when practiced and shared by players and employees, can be a powerful force in their lives to bring meaning and purpose to their daily work. But when institutionalized by a for-profit entertainment enterprise, faith risks becoming a business plan rather than a relationship with a living God.

Nonetheless, these Rockies are hot, and I'm cheering for them. In a few weeks I'd like to say that we got beat by the World Series Champs - no shame in that.

Chris: Great perspective.

Hey all--just thought I'd chime in and say as a Baptist pastor, it's good to see two of my biggest passions collide on this thread!

Have enjoyed beerleaguer all season, J. An Astros-fan parishioner (oddly enough) turned me on to the site.

Does anyone else still wonder what might have happened if Hamels was in short-sleeves Game 1 and had completely shut the Rockies down? We probably still would have lost 3-1 but I would have liked to have seen their karma (not a theological term) interrupted.

I hate it when baseball gets sidetracked by all the things in life that I try to forget when I watch a game. This is a good discussion, pro and con, but the magic of the game is on the field. It is a game played by people, so there will be the people stuff-- this one is a jerk, this one gambles, this one takes drugs, this one beats his wife. But the reason everyone watches is what happens on the field. I would be perfectly happy if the only thing I heard about a player is what he did on the field.

"There [they] go. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die." Raoul Duke

Also applicable to the Rockies.

Personally I am rooting for Cleveland to win it all. That would then leave Philly with the longest combined season championship drought of any major sports city.

At least we'd be number 1 in something.

Hey, just a lurking, Colorado Rockies fan here, but you should know that this Independent piece is nothing more than a lousy, controversy-seeking rehash of a USA Today piece that ran last year. That's right - this stuff is well over a year old now, and none of the interview material in it comes from the Rocks iteration you've seen shredding the NL for the past few weeks.

You should also be aware that, as soon as the USA Today piece ran last year, the team distanced itself from the extremes portrayed in the McPaper in a Rocky Mountain News piece that ran about a day later.

From that article:

The USA Today article claimed there were no male magazines in the clubhouse, no risque music and rare instances of cursing - a portrayal that was a bit "over the top," in the opinion of Rockies players.

"I get Maxim (a men's magazine) sent to me in the mail in the clubhouse," first baseman Todd Helton said. "Everybody is at a different place in life. We have guys from all over the world (United States, Canada, Taiwan, Korea, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela). I've been here nine years. It's about the same mix of people, but we have good guys."

Helton said his Christian beliefs are not built around athletics.

"I don't try to be a Christian to be a better baseball player," he said. "I try to be a Christian to be a better person and father. I struggle with it every day, like everyone else in the world. I want to be a better person, like everybody else.

"The story was overblown. I'm not sure what the guy was trying to do. We have good guys who show up every day to play hard and win.

"We're dirtbags, like 99 percent of the world. Maybe worse, because we are baseball players. Some guys are Christians and some guys aren't."

It's the media folks. Grain of salt, etc.

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