Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Bear Witness


Marcell Ozuna being able to finish out the entirety of his Braves contract says a lot about the MLB response to abuse allegations. I'm still not exactly where the threshold is where 'he'll come back from it' turns into 'he'll never play again'. Like, forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't it all bad? It's weird that Aroldis Chapman and Marcell Ozuna have enough clout to come back from this sort of thing and Julio Urias, Domingo German and Trevor Bauer didn't. I have no idea how it works. 

Genuinely, after his 2021 suspension, I kinda figured that'd be the last anyone would hear of Marcell Ozuna. The Braves had been too quick to sign him to an extension after an incredible 2020 season as a hard-hitting DH, and they'd have to eat the rest of the contract. But after another truncated 2022 campaign besieged by scandal, he just sort of popped back into the lineup in 2023 like nothing had happened...and proceeded to have a 40-homer/100+ RBI year, his first. And I know that the Braves were trying really hard to sweep Ozuna under the rug, but when a season like that happens, even if other Braves are hitting 100+ RBI, you kind of have to draw attention to it. 

And so far this year, Ozuna's hit 7 homers and 22 RBIs, which are both league bars at the moment. Also, Ozuna's .365 average is second only to Jarred Kelenic on the Braves, and I could not have pointed out these two as the players to be hitting the best after nearly 3 weeks of MLB play on one of its best teams. Almost as if Seattle shouldn't have given up Kelenic to clear space for an Ohtani deal that never happened or something. 

But yeah, Ozuna's notoriety stands out in a bad way next to the nearly-uniform likability that populates the rest of the team. The Braves aren't a great team, but I don't exactly consider them league villains, solely because of how much I appreciate the gameplay of people like Ronald Acuna, Michael Harris, Matt Olson and Charlie Morton. I'd hate them more if they were mean. The Astros are easy to hate, because more of them are actually mean. The Braves don't have that, mainly, for Ozuna, who has never been able to completely outrun the abuse charges, and even if he has another 40-homer year will still have that cloud around him.

The Braves, meanwhile, are off to a nice start in all areas. I think they wish their rotation wasn't as troublesome, but getting Darius Vines in there seems to have helped, and Reynaldo Lopez actually turning out to be a solid 5th choice was the twist of the century. Hopefully they'll keep it up.

Coming Tonight: He helped Oakland get to the playoffs, he helped the Mets get to the playoffs, he helped the Brewers get to the playoffs. Now comes his toughest task yet, and so far it seems to be working out.

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