Ex-White Sox Yermin Mercedes announces he’s retiring from game he seemed to love, then lost

We hardly knew ya.
Image: Getty Images

It makes for an easy narrative, and one all of us that wants to see baseball evolve into something more fun can easily grab onto.

Tony La Russa hangs one of his players out to dry not just in the press, but seemingly gives the Sox’ opponent—and perhaps their biggest rival in the Minnesota Twins—the go-ahead to plunk his player the next night. And not just any player, but one of the stories of the season in Yermin Mercedes, a 28-year-old rookie who had worked up from the Pecos League to the Majors, while having the softball player/attitude that fans love.

After that, Mercedes goes into a tailspin, gets sent back to the minors, and loses his passion for the game to the point he retires/takes a sabbatical of undetermined length. It sounds great, and accessible, but maybe not quite the case.

Mercedes has been known to go off brand before. He walked away from his Winter League team in 2019 and the following season got suspended for violating COVID protocols. This isn’t to say Mercedes is totally at fault here, but it’s also not as simple as just saying an incontinent and un-sober manager murdered his love of the game.

There’s a big league future for Mercedes somewhere, where he’ll get a chance to prove he can actually hit a curveball someday. Maybe he doesn’t want it. Maybe he does feel that any other manager will go behind his back anyway. Who knows? It can be quite the crash for a player to work so hard and so long to get to the Majors, crush it for a month, and then be unable to even get the bat to the ball for a month and get sent down. It’s quite the roller coaster.

Or maybe La Russa was the final nail in the coffin for a player that has spent a decade trying to get where he was, and probably faced tons of moments where he thought it would never happen. I’d like to believe that, but given how many other players have come into the Sox clubhouse as their first Major League experience and done well for them, it doesn’t seem like that toxic of an atmosphere for young players.

I won’t stop you from blaming La Russa though. It’s fun and fulfilling.

Hello, you must be going

These opening ceremonies just keep getting better. Not only will they be the unique theater of an event chock-full of pageantry meant to wow a live audience that won’t have a live audience, but they can’t seem to stop firing people mere hours before it actually takes place. A couple days ago it was a composer who turned out to be proud of his school bully days. Yesterday, it was the director of the whole thing out on his ass because he made a Holocaust joke 23 years ago.

Getting into whether or not someone should be held accountable for things they said, depending on degree, nearly a quarter century ago when our priorities and sensibilities were different is a goddamn quagmire, and certainly there’s been enough time for Kentaro Kobayashi to have evolved and changed his act or tune or whatever it is he does now.

It’s just an awfully delicious look for the IOC and the organizing committee to go to these lengths to make the Games appear clean and above reproach when they’re being held in the middle of a country and world still in the grips of a pandemic in front of no fans with more and more competitors and those connected testing positive every day. Like, what are the priorities here and now?

Some joke 23 years ago rules you out of participating in this. “This” being a complete greed-hurricane that could possibly endanger people and cripple a city. You’re not good enough for that. That’s quite the sell job.

Like baseball? Hug a Giant

Anyway, to the fields of play. It’s been taking place in the cover of darkness for most of the nation, but the Giants and Dodgers have been playing perhaps the season’s first “big” series of the year. The Giants came into Chavez Ravine A game ahead of L.A., and they will leave no worse than that after turning the tables on the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Tuesday night, the Dodgers came back from a 6-1 deficit and walked it off on a Will Smith three-run homer off a wayward Tyler Rogers. Wednesday, it was Kenley Jansen’s turn to go all cubist, giving up a single to Buster Posey and then turning around to watch Wilmer Flores’s bomb to put the Giants up 3-2. Jansen would get charged with another run as he only recorded one out.

As of now, this is the only race in the National League, even with the Mets begging anyone in the NL East to join them at the top of the division. The Giants are the surprise of the season, and them relegating the Dodgers and Padres to the coin-flip game would be truly enriching. We spend most of the time complaining about baseball, and they give us more than enough reason to do so. Even the past month has been about foreign substances or the A’s trying to hold up two different cities for a new stadium and development they won’t pay a dime for or whatever else.

But here we have games with actual stakes for both teams that have lived up to the billing with dramatic homers, strikeouts, defensive plays, you name it. Maybe it doesn’t balance out the scales, but at least it’s something on the other side of it. 

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