To say that Toronto Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia has gotten off to a slow start would be an understatement. In 32 at bats this season, Arencibia has two hits resulting in a horrific line of 063/118/156. Yes, that’s right, Arencibia isn’t even slugging his own weight. While his defence has improved over last year, it’s still a mess, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to break out of his slump any time soon.
Worse for the Jays is that the backup catcher, Jeff Mathis, isn’t a real threat to Arencibia for playing time. Mathis is off to a fantastic start, but it’s unlikely he’ll steal any play time away from Arencibia. Although if he keeps hitting like this, they just may have to turn to Mathis.
As a major league player, Arencibia is expected to be a professional through all this. Yes, it’s been a lousy month, but he should be able to rise above and ignore the criticisms. Eric Milnis mentioned this earlier on today, simply making an observation about just how bad Arencibia has been this season:
Scary bad stat line:
@jparencibia9 ranked behind guys like Mike Morse and V-Mart so far this season…and they have not played.
Unfortunately, Arencibia wasn’t able to rise above his criticisms, and his response to Eric Mirlis is nothing short of disgraceful:
Mirlis didn’t say anything people didn’t already know – Arencibia is having a lousy year. This shouldn’t have been news to Arencibia, as I’m sure he’s well aware of his strugges. And if Arencibia wants to prove Mirlis wrong, the best way to do it is on the field. Catch a guy stealing and then tell the reporters he was inspired to prove Mirlis wrong. String together a few good games with the bat and make a joke about how he’s now better than Mike Morse or Victor Martinez in 2012. But making those ignorant statements just proves that Arencibia doesn’t understand the opportunity he’s been given here. He’s a major league baseball player. Arencibia is a role model to fans young and old, and he’s in a position to show people what to do when people criticize you for your failures. Instead, all we see is an athlete lashing out against the media, when JP Arencibia is the only one to blame for his struggles.
Instead of doing the smart thing and brushing it aside and using it to help him perform on the field, Arencibia dealt a low blow to Mirlis based on his physical appearance. What are we, 12? The 90’s called, they want their fat jokes back. In all seriousness, Arencibia dropped the ball here.
I lost a lot of respect for JP Arencibia today. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have all of your failures broadcast around the world, with random people criticizing you for every mistake you make. But that doesn’t excuse Arencibia for what he said. In fact, it means Arencibia must be looked at by a higher standard, because of his position as a professional major league baseball player.And because he has such a passionate fanbase following him, it was important for him to not only send the right message, but be a role model for how to deal with adversity. Instead, Arencibia buckled under the pressure, gave into his anger, and showed kids exactly what not to do when faced with criticism. He lashed out and insulted a man based on his physical appearance.
I can only hope that in the future, JP Arencibia and the rest of baseball can learn from this experience. It’s a privilege to play this amazing game of baseball, but as a wise man once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. If you can’t handle the responsibility of being a positive role model, or dealing with criticism in a positive way, then you don’t deserve to be a major leaguer. Because the stunt Arencibia pulled today on Twitter was something I’d expect from a bush leaguer. And certainly not from a player who was as likeable as JP Arencibia.
Edit: It’s worth pointing out that Mr. Mirlis shouldn’t have include Arencibia in the tweet. He could have gotten the point across without sending JP the tweet. Clearly, it was an attempt to bait Arencibia, and it worked out quite well for Mirlis. But that doesn’t excuse Arencibia for his response, and as I have pointed out he should have risen above this and simply been the better man here.