Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah did not take any prisoners when defending his teammate, catcher Alejandro Kirk.
Canadian sportswriter Matthew Ross came after Kirk in a recent, now deleted tweet. It was in response to the Blue Jays official Twitter account.
The Jays tweeted a highlight of Kirk running the bases on a hit, getting the wave home and scoring standing up.
Kirk, who is not the thinnest baseball player in Major League Baseball, still managed to get around the bases fairly quickly:
This highlight, however, did not sit well with Ross, who tweeted that sharing the highlight of the portly Kirk running the bases was “embarrassing for the sport,” and “feeds negative [baseball] stereotypes:”
That’s when Manoah sprung into action, going hard after Ross for being named Matthew and having “never played a day in the big leagues” while still trying to “control the narrative and stereotypes:”
He continued, saying that Kirk inspires kids to “chase their dreams and chase greatness:”
Ross responded, saying that he was questioning “the optics of a pro player, and how it feeds into the declining view that casual sports fans have about MLB.”
That defense didn’t go over too well either, as Manoah hit back:
“So now you’re saying attendance is down because too many big guys play the sport? Then let me ask you, why did he get millions of votes to start the all-star game?”
Is Alek Manoah Right About Fat Shaming?
There’s a lot going on here. First and foremost, it’s a bit disingenuous to say that baseball is losing fans because some players are overweight.
Bartolo Colon, for example, was one of the most popular players in the sport while he was active. Alek Manoah has a point that Kirk received millions of votes in large part due to his popularity.
Kirk’s size has also clearly not affected his ability to contribute. He’s been one of the best catchers in baseball this season.
Kirk is hitting .295/.379/.432, which translates to a line 35% better than league average. But it’s not just hitting. He’s also been one of the best defensive catchers in the league too, according to Fangraphs.
While he’s obviously big, the athleticism required to hit major league pitching is extremely underrated. Not to mention that Kirk would almost certainly destroy most non-athletes in a race, no matter how “in-shape” they appear to be.
Unfair Shot At People Named Matthew
That said, Manoah calling out Ross for being named “Matthew,” while funny, doesn’t entirely make sense either.
There’s obviously been many successful major leaguers with that name, from Matt Kemp or Matt Holliday, to Matt Harvey … just to name a few.
Alek Manoah did have a point though; there might be kids who are a bit overweight but who love sports. Who’s to say they can’t work on their physique and become successful athletes sometime down the road?
Babe Ruth wasn’t exactly thin either.
Either way, it’s always fun to see a baseball beef. It’s not surprising that the fiery Manoah stood up for his teammate.
Kirk will almost certainly have a chance to show off his wheels on a bigger stage soon, as the Blue Jays look to wrap up a postseason spot in the coming weeks.