Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The most interesting man in MLB is Juan Uribe: Between Innings

Juan Uribe did not play in a game between the first and second place rivals of the AL Central yet the most discussed item of the night was the Tribe's injured third baseman Juan Uribe.

Sure, there was a baseball game played on Monday night between the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals who are both vying to win the AL Central Division. And, the game was hard-fought. Carlos Carrasco continued to allow what seems an unsustainable hard-hit rate, but he also held the Royals to a meager two runs though with some help from his friends in the bullpen. The Indians had plenty of chances to put up runs, but the Tribe could not take advantage as they went 0-for-8 with RISP. And, Yan Gomes struggled mightily as he twice ended rallies before they could begin by grounding into double plays—including in the ninth inning. 

The talk of the night, however, was about the Indians third baseman who did not play. You see, Juan Uribe is a special type of cat who just makes everything around him more enjoyable. Yes, even getting hit with a 106 mile per hour baseball square in the nuts.


Ain't no quiet nor dignified o'er hee errr

Some players simply garner more attention. When Yan Gomes had a foul ball send him to the trainer's room with a testicular contusion, he grimaced before hobbling off through the dugout using the trainer as a crutch. Gomes took a couple days off to presumably sit on a bag of frozen peas before quietly returning to his place behind home plate. But such quiet grace is simply not how Uribe rolls.

First, there was the play itself. No, I am not going to place the GIF in here as if you want to see a man doubled-over in pain by being hit in the groin, then watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals when Draymond Green comes back from suspension. Now, on the play, Uribe does all he can to demonstrably show he has possession of the ball (not his own, but the baseball itself) to deter Mike Trout from advancing on the basepaths. Once time has been called though, Uribe fell upon the infield dirt in obvious agony. Hobbling off with a pair of black and blue balls was out of the question, so the Angels training staff sent a coachman aboard a cart to retrieve the 38-year old.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Most men, in having had their scrotum whacked in front of a national audience, would hide away in the shadows until healthy enough to sneak back into the lineup. But, as established, Uribe is not most men. So, he did not shirk from media requests to discuss the painful play with him on Monday. Blatantly transparent truthfulness is just par for the course. Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com captured his first thoughts upon receiving the high velocity projectile into his most sensitive region.


Uribe did not state whether or not having more babies was in his future plans. Regardless, it is a humbling thought to have that option taken rather than by choice. So, there was some surprise when Uribe noted he would not be wearing a cup the next time he saw the field, but it is his reasoning that will be remembered forever as STO's Andre Knott reported.


Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Ah, Juan Uribe has had himself a career as he continues in his 16th year in MLB (including a game as a player-manager). He has been the subject of an in-depth VICE story that tells his tale far better than I am here. The entire journey Uribe has undergone has had more downs than ups, yet he remains a joyous entity to all those around him. A treasured player in every clubhouse whether they were one of the three teams that made the World Series (winning two) or one of the frustratingly struggling ones. Baseball is a game where the mental hurdles oftentimes can be steeper than the physical ones. Uribe unexpectedly clears them and makes everyone around him better for it while doing so.

Plus, puppies.

Here's a snippet from the VICE story:

These days, Uribe's listed weight is 235 pounds, 60 pounds more than it was his rookie year. It's easy to think of him as a kind of jolly, round baseball jester—Tommy Lasorda if he was an active player and Dominican. He walks into the Dodgers clubhouse every day with a cigar in his mouth. He wears fancy patterned sweatpants and custom baseball hats that say "Papi" on them. Once, he was sued by a former landlord for lighting an apartment on fire when he decided to fry some fish in the middle of the night. He has been a victim of the hidden ball trick.

But in his Cy Young acceptance speech this past offseason, Clayton Kershaw—Uribe's exact opposite culturally, stylistically, and personality wise—singled out the third baseman. "Thank you for making me laugh," Kershaw said. "You are one of the most important people in our clubhouse."


As Zack Meisel of cleveland.com reported, Uribe's persona certainly hasn't changed as a member of the Cleveland Indians. El Pavo is stealing manager Terry Francona's cigars, taking Jose Ramirez under his wing, wearing outfits which would be ridiculous on anyone but himself, and generally keeping charge that no one is stressing in the clubhouse. Because, how could anyone stress with Juan Uribe around?

Already this season, Uribe has helped loosen things up with his dance moves, laughter, general jovialness, and he even keeps the fans on their toes lest they should lose a hot dog.


And, Uribe even extends his aura of happiness to those in the community. Let's say you are having a wedding at a Cleveland hotel ballroom. And, let's say that the bride is in the midst of preparing for her big moment. But, let's also say that Juan Uribe is in this same hotel, hears about the wedding, and decides it is his duty to wish well upon the bride? Well, then this is what happens.


Play on the field

Uribe's trademark lightning fast swing does not make contact these days as much as it had in the past. His .217/.276/.299 slash with a 52 OPS+ and 55 wRC+ indicates as much. His defense has been solid, but there is a certain lack of range in a 235 pound portly athlete, which reasons with his 0 DRS (not hurting the Indians, but not helping either). However, Uribe has mastered the UZR score as his 18.9 UZR/150 is the best among all third basemen in MLB (minimum 350 innings played). And, while he has had some defensive blunders, he has also has shown the same sense of flair in the field as he displays in the clubhouse.


Even on the same weekend that he would ultimately be humbled by the lack of protection, Uribe had already eschewed the need for a glove with a nifty bare-handed play.


Regardless, the hope is that Uribe can bounce back from his unfortunate occurence on the field and see his hitting rebound closer to his career norms over the summer months to avoid any thoughts of a possible trade or DFA. There is no other player that can fill the void once a clubhouse has experienced the wonderfulness of Uribe and the withdrawal is terrible.


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