Friday, June 21, 2013

Let's talk about this Bud Norris thing

Jerome Solomon had a devastatingly effective column in the Chronicle this morning blasting Bud Norris for his "negative vibes" both on the mound and in a column posted by Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.

Among the things Norris said to Morosi, there's this nugget:
It gives you goose bumps when you think about it. Obviously growing up there, being a big Giants fan — and I rooted for the A’s, too, in the area, but I was more of a Giants fan. That’s a possibility. It’s all trade rumors, as they say. But if it were to happen, it would be a dream come true for me to play for my childhood team. ...Whatever happens, I’ll be excited wherever I go to help that team or — if I stay here — to keep helping the Astros. But San Francisco is a lovely place, and I still call it home.

Now I had zero issues with this. This is a guy in presumably the prime of his career talking about having a chance to play near his home, for his favorite team growing up. If you told me that there was a chance that the Astros would hire me, and someone asked me about it, maybe - since I'm a few years older than Bud Norris - I'd be able to couch my enthusiasm a little bit. But I'm not going to fault him for getting excited about the possibility of playing for the Giants.

Now this? This is different:
“I’ve seen stable, veteran players get moved to new organizations. Sometimes you don’t understand why it’s not you. So, it’s been tough ... Now that my name’s the one popping up, it’s a little different feeling. At the end of the day, I need to prepare myself to pitch every five days for the team I’m on. I’ve been in Houston my entire career. All I know is pitching for this team. If it changes, it changes. But it’s not going to change my aspect of going out there and pitching.”

Okay. I talked about this in today's Morning Drive. This is preposterous. Because what it sounds like - and it's either the way Norris said it, or the way Morosi conveyed it - is that Norris' feelings were hurt that he wasn't the one getting traded.

There are two ways Norris can look at it:

1) If Norris gets traded then, yeah, the Astros don't necessarily want him pitching for them (for a variety of reasons - bettering the long-term vision of the club being chief among them). Norris could also interpret this as another team wanting him badly enough to help them win that they're willing to part with multiple pieces.

2) If Norris doesn't get traded then it means the Astros are including him as a major piece in the resurgence of a franchise.

There's no reason to play the "Why can't it be me getting traded?" card. That comes with an implied "Stamp Feet Repeatedly" stage direction. Do I think he was whining? A little, but I am also willing to chalk it up to this being the first time Norris has ever really had a stage like this. Think about the guys he actually saw get traded: Roy Oswalt. Lance Berkman. (Wandy pretty much kept his mouth shut, from what we know. I doubt Brett Myers did, in the clubhouse.) Not exactly bastions of How To Handle Getting Traded.

Norris flat-out says that nothing's going to change the way he pitches, not even the possibility of getting traded to his childhood team. We'll see if that's true this weekend. In Solomon's column (which has started a Twitter fight between him and the Crawfish Boxes), he mentions Norris laying blame for his loss against the White Sox on June 18. Solomon:
After he took a loss in his last start, he basically blamed managerial strategy, teammates and even the Minute Maid air-conditioning units for the runs he surrendered. Yes, he hinted the humidity was a factor in the defeat. The humidity. In Houston. In June. Next thing you know he'll say mosquitoes have had a negative effect on his ERA.

If you go back to Brian Smith's game recap, you can read one of Norris' quotes:

I’m still frustrated about it and I’m going to sleep on it a little bit tonight. I made a bad play. Two of them. One got under my glove and I missed the one completely in front of Altuve. I still think it’s an error. I hope they change it, in my honest opinion. I missed the play. I saw it in the lights and just kind of the banner lighting kind of got me. It was a little white background and that’s unfortunate because  nine times out of 10 I really feel like I make that play. That’s what spring training and the PFPs are all about.  I am frustrated. I thought a couple balls really got through that inning. That’s how the game goes sometimes. I’m not mad at any teammate by any means. These guys played — this was a great series, three games out of four. But it is very frustrating to know that that inning went the way it did.

We don't have access to the whole interview, the quote begins with an ellipses. Norris was obviously frustrated. As the presumed Staff Ace, he was the only starting pitcher to get a loss against the White Sox, thanks to three ground balls in one inning.

It's a touchy situation. An unfortunate distraction - if you want to call it that. At the same time, I agree with (Not Hank) Aaron's tweet from yesterday:

Sports commentary: "How do you feel about being traded" "This is how I feel about being traded" "HOW DARE YOU"

My issue is not with Norris lighting up like a Christmas tree at the possibility of playing for the Giants. He was honest about his feelings, and we don't get that from athletes all that often. This is a perfect example as to why.