In his Chicago Tribune column on 12 changes the Cubs should make for 2020, BBWAA president Paul Sullivan recommended the team stop Yu Darvish from clapping back at internet trolls. I don’t remember the other 11 items, other than a complaint about playing that dadgum music so loud at Wrigley, but it doesn’t appear as though Darvish has been given any guidance when it comes to dunking on his detractors on Twitter.
In fact, the staff ace was giving out whole-ass ovations to some of the fools who stepped to him Sunday afternoon. Many of his responses were some iteration of “congrats,” his preferred retort when it comes to particularly nasty or ignorant attacks.
I like it!
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) February 16, 2020
Now that’s one even Common and Scottie Pippen can properly appreciate.
The latest legion of trolls were primarily Houston fans who came out from beneath their respective bridges in response to Darvish’s comments about the Astros’ cheating and their subsequent “apologies.” This whole scandal is a crappy gift that keeps on giving no matter how badly you wish it would stop. Wait, scratch that. If they’d already quit talking about it, we’d never have been blessed with Carlos Correa‘s explanation of why Jose Altuve didn’t want his jersey ripped off after his walk-off homer against the Yankees.
“So, one, he didn’t want to take his shirt off because his wife had told my wife earlier in the year for me to not to do that,” Correa told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal as part of a much longer interview ($). “So he was telling me not to do it. And, number two, he had an unfinished tattoo that looked kinda bad, that he didn’t want people to see and people to talk about. That was the reason.”
Rather than really dig in on how incredibly ludicrous this story is even without considering how unlikely it is that Correa would have the presence of mind to think about Alutve’s bad ink, I’ll just let you think what you prefer. Correa also took issue with Cody Bellinger‘s claim that Altuve didn’t really deserve the 2017 AL MVP, saying the Dodgers star needed to learn the “facts.”
All of this has served to shift public option on MLB’s punishments from “tough but fair” to “strip the title from those cheating bastards.” That’s not just salty fans, it’s players as well. People lost jobs — like, other than AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow — and teams missed out on wins in both the regular season and playoffs. It’s a big freaking deal that isn’t scrubbed clean by a $5 million fine and a few lost draft picks.
“It’s a weird feeling, like [the] Olympics,” Darvish said from Cubs camp Sunday. “When a player cheats, you can’t have a gold medal, right? But they still have a World Series title. It just makes me feel, like, weird. That’s it.
“But one more thing, Correa talking about Bellinger, I saw that yesterday. So they cheat, I think…right now they don’t have to talk. They shouldn’t talk like that right now.”
Darvish said he wanted to see more of an apology from the Astros players, specifically because they directly impacted the livelihoods of several current and former players. The Cubs righty is one of those after being tagged by the Astros in the 2017 World Series when he was with the Dodgers. His reputation and confidence were both damaged, to the extent that he didn’t even want to show his face when he returned to LA with the Cubs.
It’s important to note here that Darvish has never once blamed the Astros for his ills and has continued to take responsibility for his poor performance. Still, it’s got to sting a little.
“I know they were stealing signs, but at the same time, I was not good during the World Series,” Darvish admitted to reporters. “I’m better for what I went through. But, yeah, everyone is wondering about pitching against them.”
The residual effects of his World Series meltdown lingered into his first campaign with the Cubs and were exacerbated by a stress reaction in his right elbow that wasn’t properly diagnosed until late in the season. Coupled with his forgettable Dodgers effort, the mystery surrounding his injury led many fans and media members to ignorantly slam Darvish as being mentally weak. Some even wrote him off as washed up, a sentiment that didn’t change when he came out walking scores of hitters in 2019.
But as Darvish explained Sunday, he was still dealing with some triceps soreness that affected his mechanics early on. His health and confidence improved as the season progressed and he really took off after incorporating a spike curve into his repertoire. That made up for the hard curve he had to give up in the wake of Tommy John surgery and allowed him to really blossom into the pitcher the Cubs had thought they were getting the previous season.
— Scott Changnon (@ScottyChags) February 16, 2020
Now 100% healthy and entering camp with the ability to be himself both physically and mentally, Darvish is already looking the parts of both king and ace. Now let’s just hope the Cubs can surpass the Cards. And the Reds. Oh, and the Brewers. Didn’t there used to be another team in the Central? I feel like there was at one point. Oh well.