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Wednesday, June 03, 2009
NBC: where commenters defend Derek Jeter's defensive abilities by calling me a "BALD IDIOT!!!!":
And I may be bald, but they think Derek Jeter has range, so who's the bigger idiot?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:25pm
Via BTF, a story about the Brewers expanding their fans' entertainment options:
The Milwaukee Brewers baseball club held a brainstorming session a while back to see what would happen if movies were linked with a baseball venue. They came up with Miller Park Movies. In early June, the Brewers unveiled drive-in movies in the parking lots of Miller Park. With any luck, this might start a trend for the club, and develop a following for movie nights in the future, with two nights tentatively set for August.
Neat enough idea, I suppose. Though I'll admit, I haven't been to one since the U.S. 23 Drive-In showed a "Grease"-"Saturday Night Fever" double feature in 1978. I can't say I remember it fondly. I fell asleep during "Beauty School Dropout" and didn't wake up until my dad was carrying me from the car to my room.
How hard would it have been for my parents to get a babysitter? I mean really.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:31pm
The Braves have a decision to make:
After throwing six scoreless innings and earning a win in his third minor-league rehab start in two weeks, Braves pitcher Tom Glavine pronounced himself ready to return to the major leagues Tuesday night as the 43-year-old veteran turned in a solid outing in Rome’s 3-0 win over the Augusta Green Jackets in front of a sellout crowd of 5,105 at State Mutual Stadium.
Given four set slots in the rotation, Kris Medlen's recent good outing and Tommy Hanson knocking on the door, the Braves truly don't need Tom Glavine at this point. What's more, they'll be on the hook for a $1 million bonus upon activating him. But that's not Tom Glavine's problem, is it? They signed him, and they offered the bonus. He has responded about as well as can be hoped in rehab. Most importantly, he's Tom Glavine. If the Braves pitch him, the fans will show up and cheer, as they should. If they jerk him around, no one will be happy.
I've stated a few times how I wish that Glavine wouldn't pitch again. I said that, however, because I feared he couldn't, and didn't want to see him embarrassed. It's still not clear that he will be effective in the Majors, but he has shown enough in his rehab starts to be given a shot, even if I'll be watching it with trepidation. In any event, I don't see how the Braves can't give him a start or two at this point, so they may as well activate him, pay that million bucks, and hope for the best.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:52pm
No, that isn't sarcasm. Baker is 100% on point with this observation, made in connection with Joey Votto's stress issues:
"Nobody knows who it is going to affect and when it is going to affect anybody. You deal with pressure every day in this game. People throw the money issue in your face all the time. There is a lot more coverage. It's a high-pressure world. Sports is one of the few professionals where you reach your goal at a very young age. Most guys reach their goals between their 40s and 50s. Maintaining a balance in your life can be a very tough thing. The game can become all-encompassing, day and night. It wakes you up in the middle of the night. It does me and I'm not even playing."
I couldn't imagine having to deal with even the relatively mundane stresses I have in my life now when I was in my early 20s, so I can only imagine that dealing with everythng a ballplayer has thrown at them is amazingly tough for a kid that age. While most of them deal with it just fine, the ones that don't are lucky if they have someone with Dusty Baker's obvious intelligence, experience and empathy hanging around. Baker says that he's "not worried about Joey." If I'm Joey Votto, that's probably exactly what I need to hear.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:07pm
Via Dan Shaughnessy, the Tigers' skipper talks about how the GM bankruptcy affects the Tigers:
"We actually had a team meeting about it," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he had a job cutting windshields for GM cars. "I told the guys, 'This is not a year to not run out ground balls.' We get a check every two weeks, and there are people who just found out they ain't getting a check. We've got to pinch ourselves and realize how lucky we are."
The GM bankruptcy doesn't impact me directly. I don't have any family of friends who work there and anyone I care about deeply left Detroit years ago. To the extent I'm affected, it's the same way most people are affected: indirectly via macroeconomic forces.
But there are some random strands of my DNA that are tied up in the domestic auto industry, and they're making all of this rather difficult for me. My great grandfather came to this country from Romania at the turn of the last century and struggled like hell to feed his family until the day he got a job finishing woodwork for the dashboards on Cadillacs. My dad grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, which in those days was like on campus housing for the Ford Motor Company. The Ford family, with the help of their toadie, Mayor-for-life Orville Hubbard, did everything they could to make life miserable for any non-white, non-Christians who dared move to Dearborn back then, but most folks in Dearborn loved Ford like a boy loves his momma. Though neither of my parents worked for GM, I lived the first eleven years of my life in Flint, the most GM-dominated town there ever was. Yes, malaise was just over the horizon, but when I was in Flint salaries were still high and unemployment was still low. Everyone on my block worked at the Chevy Truck and Bus plant at the corner of Bristol and Van Slyke, and they lived very, very well all things considered.
Intellectually I realize what happened to the U.S. auto industry. Complacency, inefficiency, laziness and a business model that only made sense if the rest of the world was reduced to rubble (which it was, by the way, when the business model was conceived) meant that life as we knew it in southeastern Michigan in the mid-to-late 20th century was utterly unsustainable. There was no way that GM was ever going to avoid bankruptcy and, truth be told, it probably should have gone that way a hell of lot longer ago than it did. As an institution, I am more than happy to say good riddance to the domestic auto industry as we knew it.
But institutions are abstractions. People are not. Whatever the reasons and whoever is to blame, the people in Michigan are hurting like hell today, and based on my upbringing, I have a bit clearer a picture of what those people look like than some people do (hint: the popular caricature of the obnoxious UAW worker with an overactive sense of entitlement is about as prevalent as any other caricature created by idiots with an agenda).
I think those people are strong enough to tolerate Gerald Laird dogging it down to first on a grounder once in a while, but it's nice of Jim Leyland to be able to put himself in the fans' shoes and, like Baker in the previous item, say something his audience needs to hear.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:13pm
Last week I wrote that no one was really getting excited about Randy Johnson's 300th win. That said, I bet that more people turn out for the potential milestone tonight than did for these:
Baseball history is littered with noteworthy achievements that took place in front of sparse crowds. Ted Williams's last game at Fenway Park managed to draw only 10,000 fans. Still, the crowd dwarfed the 2,000 who came to fete Babe Ruth in his final home game as a Yankee. Fewer than 6,000 bothered to catch Stan Musial's 3,000th hit at Wrigley Field in 1958. Poor Bill Stoneman threw two no-hitters in his career that drew a combined 13,680 fans -- a number that would certainly be a disappointment in Washington.
I'm not sure that anyone would have known it was the Babe's last game in pinstripes -- he wasn't released until the following February -- and no one could have anticipated either of Stoneman's no-hitters, but, yeah, it's true that old milestones weren't celebrated the way they are today. Part of this is because people simply weren't as aware of impending milestones back then. There was no Baseball-Reference.com in 1958. There was no Sportscenter. People got their box scores once a day -- if that -- and didn't have nearly the kind of access to stats and stuff that we do today.
Another part of this: statistical availablity aside, people just didn't obsess about the game as much then as we do now. For one thing, people didn't go to ballgames in the numbers people do now. In 1923, the Yankees led baseball in attendance by drawing a hair over a million fans. The Marlins drew 1.3 million last year and were the laughingstock of the league. There are all kinds of reasons for this -- and certainly overall population impacts this -- but people didn't build their lives around baseball back then like so many of us sick individuals do now. Everyone knew that Randy Johnson was poised to win 300 games before the season began. I bet you could count the number of people who knew when Eddie Collins was due to get his 3000th hit on one hand.
So, different game, different fans, different time. But it does make me wonder: if people were way more casual and dismissive of fun stuff like this back in the day, why do we still call it the "Golden Age?"
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:02pm
That's what Rosenthal is saying:
Tom Glavine is done in Atlanta.
As I wrote earlier today, I thought the Braves were obligated -- out of both a sense of history and based on Glavine's commitment to rehab and apparent, though qualified success -- to at least give him a chance to pitch.
Are the Braves in so much need of $1 million that they couldn't stand to at least give him a try? If the Braves are so unwilling to pay off a roster incentive to even a legend like Glavine, why on Earth would anyone else dare sign a deal with them that contains a roster incentive? Above all else: at any point in the last 20 years did it seem possible that Tom Glavine's career in a Braves uniform would end via a club release?
I'll await more information before passing final judgment, but if, as Rosenthal's article claims, Tom Glavine was really throwing 86 last night and not walking a bunch of guys, he was basically where he has been for the past 5-6 years. That doesn't strike me as a performance-based release. That strikes me as a money move, and with this particular player on this particular team, with this particularly small amount of money at play, that's shameful.
(thanks to Chris for the heads up)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 6:19pm
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Cubs 3, Braves 2: It's understandable that the Braves lost given all of yesterday's activity. Half the team was probably pissed that Glavine was released and the other half was wondering if they were going to be traded. As it was, Jeff Francouer struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth, killing the Braves' chances to break things open. Francoeur, however, was not released. Later, in the eleventh inning, Derek Lee tagged up at first and made it to second on a routine fly to left field to set up the winning run. Left fielder Matt Diaz, however, was not released. Finally, despite the loss, Bobby Cox was not fired.
Brewers 9, Marlins 6: Marlins' reliever Hayden Penn issued three straight bases loaded walks in the fifth inning, which is something you don't see every day. Walked a guy when he came in too. It's the kind of thing that makes me wish there was a 12 hour cooling off period before post game interviews, because I've always wanted to ask pitchers who have those kinds of outings whether they simply refused to groove a few pitches just to get one over or if they tried but simply couldn't. You know Penn won't talk about it in the locker room a half hour later, but he might the next morning. Except by the next morning, no one really cares that much.
Rays 9, Royals 0: Jeff Niemann shut the Royals down with authority (CG, SHO, 2 H, 9K). Brian Bannister was shelled (3.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER). Such balance appeals to me for some strange reason.
Rangers 4, Yankees 2: Mark Teixeira missed the game with a bruised right ankle following that hard slide into Andrus I mentioned yesterday. Minor correction: "grit" and "fire" is completely canceled out by "ice pack" and "disabled list." Don't get yourself injured. It can only hurt the ballclub.
Red Sox 10, Tigers 5: Not as close as the score indicates, as the Beckett no-hit the Tigers into the seventh and all five of the Tigers runs (a) came after they were trailing 10-0; and (b) were unearned due to three errors. Curtis Granderson hit a bases-loaded triple, which some people think is the most exciting play in baseball. Great moments in enforcing unwritten rules: Gerald Laird tried to break up the then-in-progress no-hitter by laying down a bunt in the sixth. The next time he was up, Beckett hit him. The Sox were up 4-0 then so I suppose it's not inconceivable that Laird could hide behind the "I was just trying to get something going" argument, but it was probably a close enough call to where Laird had to expect he'd get plunked.
Indians 10, Twins 1: Cliff Lee in 2008 form, goes eight innings, giving up a single run and jawing hard at Carlos Gomez after Gomez flied out in the fifth which almost started a fight. Lee has a 2.96 ERA on the season but his record stands at 3-6. Jhonny Peralta, back at short following Asdrubal Cabrera's injury, hit a three-run homer.
Athletics 5, White Sox 3: Bobby Crosby and Landon Powell hit back-to-back homers in the fourth and Josh Outman scattered seven hits over six and two thirds on a cold night in Chicago.
Angels 8, Blue Jays 1: Jered Weaver (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 10K) is hot of late, having given up a single earned run each of five of his last six starts.
Reds 9, Cardinals 3: Johnny Cueto was strong over six innings and Laynce Nix homered twice with four RBIs. Bad news for the Cardinals, as Kyle Lohse left after pitching only two innings due to tightness in his forearm. Alabama here we come?
Astros 6, Rockies 4: Hunter Pence had a solo homer and two RBI singles, and the Astros have won five of six.
Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0: Four Dodgers pitchers, led by Chad Billingsley, shut out the Dbacks. Their lead in the West is now a season-high nine and a half games.
Mariners 3, Orioles 2: Ichiro's hitting streak is now at 27 games. Luke Scott hit another homer for Baltimore, and is currently putting up the quietest .323/.399/.661 season we've seen in a long time.
Phillies 5, Padres 1: J.A. Happ shut the Padres down over seven and then handed it off to J.C. Romero. They should probably trade for R.A Dickey or CC Sabathia so they can go all initials on the opposition. Romero was making his first appearance since his Hall of Fame-destroying PED suspension.
Mets-Pirates: Postponed. I never meant 2 cause u any sorrow. I never meant 2 cause u any pain.
Giants-Nats: Postponed. I only wanted 2 one time see u laughing. I only wanted 2 see u laughing in the purple rain.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:38am
With apologies to Jayson Stark's research staff, I must say that I usually don't care for those "look at these weird stats!" pieces. But this one did do what those things are intended to do, which is to make read it and go "Hmm. Neat":
A third of the way through the season, James Loney is on pace to drive in 123 runs. The last Dodger with that many RBIs was Shawn Green in 2001.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:25am
After a night's sleep -- and upon learning that Tommy Hanson has been called up and will pitch on Saturday -- I have moderated my views about the whole Glavine affair. Upshot: While I concede that from a purely baseball perspective the Braves are better off with Tommy Hanson than Tom Glavine on the mound, I'm still disappointed in the way things were handled. I will allow, however, for the possibility that the Braves were placed in an untenable position by Glavine in all of this, and whether that actually occurred depends on whether the Braves actually communicated their intention to release him before or after Glavine made his "I'm ready" announcement Tuesday night. If they did -- and if they truly believed that Glavine couldn't get anyone out in the bigs -- and Glavine was playing politics, then well, bad on Glavine. If they did not -- if they played their cards close to the vest, encouraging him along in rehab, allowing him to declare himself ready, and then and only then told him he had the choice of retiring or to be released -- then bad on the Braves.
More thoughts on it here.
UPDATE: One other deep thought. The Red Sox face a similar situation with John Smoltz that the Braves did with Glavine (i.e. a rehabbing legend with no apparent place to put him). There are differences here -- Smoltz likely has more in the tank than Glavine, and the Sox don't have the connection to him that the Braves do to Glavine -- but it will nonetheless be interesting to see how they handle him when he's ready to go (or not).
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:52am