Sports | September 22, 2021 12:39 pm

MLB Manager Kevin Cash Apologizes for Keeping Opposing Team’s Data Card

Baseball is getting dorkier by the day

Manager Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays goes to the mound
Manager Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays goes to the mound against the Boston Red Sox.
Winslow Townson/Getty

In the latest example of baseball turning into a game that is played by mathematicians instead of players, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash issued a public apology for not returning an opposing team’s data card during a game.

Apparently, what happened in this story, which humorously involves the same team that blew the World Series thanks to their reliance on analytics, Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk had a data card in his wristband that likely included information about how the Blue Jays planned to pitch to the Rays’ hitters. During a play at the plate, the card fell out and Rays veteran Kevin Kiermaier, possibly annoyed at being called out sliding into home during the sixth inning of Tampa’s 6-4 win Monday night, scooped it up off the ground and brought it back to the dugout.

“I never even looked at it, I’ll say that,” Kiermaier said before Tuesday’s game. “But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back.”

Once the card was in possession of Paul Hoover, Tampa Bay’s field coordinator, the Rays refused to give it back to the Jays even after Toronto sent a batboy to the dugout to ask for the card’s return, per The Associated Press.

Though he claimed he didn’t know the card was in his dugout, Cash nonetheless apologized to Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Pete Walker and general manager Ross Atkins for not returning it prior to losing to Toronto on Tuesday night.

“I had no idea we had the card,” Cash said. “I expressed that to Ross, Charlie and Pete Walker, but take full responsibility. I apologized to all of them, and if I needed to speak to (Monday’s starter) Robbie Ray, I would have no problem doing that. Not ideal and I’m sorry about that.”

You’d think that during an important series between division rivals in the final two weeks of the season a manager would be apologizing to an opposing team for a beanball or a player sliding into second with his cleats up to take out the second baseman. But this is 2021 when takeout slides have been replaced by analytics alleging they aren’t worth doing. Instead of stealing signs, teams are stealing data cards. While it’s funny, it isn’t fun and doesn’t add much appeal to an increasingly boring game that could sorely use some.

Toronto and Tampa Bay will finish their series at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.