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Friday, August 07, 2009
It's sometimes helpful to remember, as we apply our very adult judgments and our very adult values to the game of baseball, that it's essentially being played by people who are about as mature as my four year-old son:
Mike Sweeney screamed from the Seattle Mariners training room Thursday, issuing what amounted to an all-points-bulletin.
I love him with all of my heart, but because of where he is from a developmental perspective, I give Carlo a lot of latitude when he's acting like a fool. I feel preceisely the same way when it comes to baseball players.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:43pm
Jason from IIATMS just told me that he heard on XM radio that John Smoltz is en route to Atlanta today "for personal reasons." One wonders if we're going to have a retirement announcement or something like that shortly.
Insta-take on zero information: if he retires rather than allows the Sox to DFA him, he leaves on as high a note as he can under the circumstances. Sure, the on-the-field end will have been an ignominious one, but the overall message will be "Smoltz knew it was time to go." A Mike Schmidt ending as opposed to a Steve Carlton ending.
Can't say I'd blame him.
UPDATE: Smoltz was DFA'd. I'll need more time to process this, but I'll write something about it in the near future.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:24pm
Saturday, August 08, 2009
This post originally appeared on NBC's Circling the Bases on July 31, 2009. However, due to a recent platform changeover at NBC, it can be really hard to find in the archives (here is a link to where it currently resides, though that might change). I'm now reposting it in its entirety, because with the Ortiz business and everything else, it keeps coming up. -- Craig
There's a growing sentiment out there -- joined by everyone from crooked guys like Victor Conte to dumb guys like Ozzie Guillen to smart guys like Maury Brown -- that baseball or the union or the courts or whoever should just release all the names on the list of the 2003 positive tests. Setting aside the fact that such a thing is practically impossible -- actually releasing it all would require a court order itself, and no one else involved in the case has any incentive for it to be lifted -- it's also a horrible idea.
The list, as everyone seems to be forgetting, would not have existed if the people whose names appear on it (and about a thousand others) hadn't been promised that it would remain confidential while it existed and would be destroyed soon after it was created. Those promises were broken, first by the players' own union, who violated the players' trust, and then by the federal government, who, in the opinion of many, overstepped previously-established legal grounds to seize the information in the course of their BALCO investigation. An investigation, mind you, that had nothing to do with the vast majority of the players on the list.
The listed players have had at least two legal duties owed to them breached and two legal rights entitled to them violated: the fiduciary duties owed to them by their union, the contractual duties owed to them by baseball and the testing lab, their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and the right to have their medical information kept private, guaranteed by HIPAA. It's too late for Manny, Papi, A-Rod, and Sosa, but around 100 other of these guys still have not been damaged by these egregious acts, though they will be if their names are released as everyone is so blithely demanding.
And what is to be gained by such a release? The satisfaction of the media, who would love to report and opine on this some more, and the satisfaction of the general public who either gets off on the salaciousness of it or, more commonly, simply wants this all to go away and thinks the quicker the names are out the more likely that is to happen. Call me crazy, but I don't think my rights to privacy and to the security of my personal medical information are something to be preserved or denied based on how good a story this makes for someone.
If you're one of those people, however, who simply insist that these guys are cheaters and cheaters are ruining baseball, think about it this way: what if you were involved in a nasty divorce case, and some of the confidential court records -- say, a hearing transcript where people were talking about your personal failings, like say, an extramarital affair -- were suddenly thrown out to the media? How would you feel if people clamored for "the rest of the records to be released?" What if the drug tests many of you out there have to take as a condition of your employment suddenly showed up on the evening news ("200 Microsoft employees test positive for drugs!")? Would you be part of the crowd demanding that the names be named?
Of course you wouldn't, and to the extent people are demanding it of the famous 104 now, they're only doing so to satisfy their curiosity and/or fill some column inches in their newspaper. Against a backdrop of serial violations of the victims' rights -- and they are victims -- such a demand is offensive in the extreme.
Don't release the rest of the names. And investigate and prosecute the person who has been doing the leaking.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:55pm
Monday, August 10, 2009
Yankees 5, Red Sox 2: Brutal weekend for Boston. Dropping four straight to the Yankees is bad enough, but doing it on the heels of dropping two to the Rays is something of a tone-setter. Especially considering how ugly a series this was for them: Thursday and Saturday were pathetic. Friday was a stomach punch. Last night started to unravel with a stomach punch (A-Rod, Damon and Teixeira homers) followed by the bullpen just rolling over in the eighth. The Sox are 6.5 out now. They're tied with Texas for the wild card and only a game in front of the Rays. To suggest that the next seven games -- four at home against first-place Detroit followed by three games in Texas -- could make or break their season is not hyperbole. As for the Yankees, there's no denying it: they're the best team in baseball, and and it strains credulity to think that anyone can stop them. Oh, and after this weekend is anyone anywhere going to say that A-Rod isn't clutch now? Wait, it's A-Rod, so of course they'll say it. They'll just be wrong.
Reds 5, Giants 2: Aaron Harang: the best 13-loss pitcher in baseball. The Reds took two of three from the Giants over the weekend, beating Lincecum and Cain. Nice trick. The Rockies and Giants are now tied for the wild card lead. Query: how many of you thought that more than one team from the NL West had a shot at the playoffs before the season began? Of those, how many of you felt that one of them wouldn't be the Dbacks? Anyone who says that they predicted that the Giants and the Rockies would spend August and September locked in combat over a playoff berth can go take a flying leap, because you're totally lying.
Braves 8, Dodgers 2: After watching Los Angeles beat the tar out of the Braves last Sunday, it's really nice (for me anyway) to see them take 3 of 4 from the Dodgers this weekend. Was there a better offseason pickup than Javier Vazquez? He has put together one of the quieter awesome seasons in recent memory (10-7, 2.90 ERA, 171 K, 32 BB, 155 IP). If he had any run support in the middle of the season he would be a Cy Young candidate right now. The Dodgers have lost 10 of 15 and stagger into San Francisco. Winning the West once seemed like a foregone conclusion for Los Angeles. I think they'll still do it. But they're only 5.5 up on both the Giants and Rockies now.
Marlins 12, Phillies 3: With the Marlins sweeping Philly and the Braves taking three of four in Los Angeles, we may very well have ourselves a race here in the East now. Heck, the Marlins and Braves' division deficit is only a game greater than their wild card deficit. Jamie Moyer's bad day (5 IP, 11 H, 3 ER) will have people saying he should make way for Pedro Martinez in the rotation. My solution: given that Moyer has alternated between good and bad starts for 11 turns now, and given that Pedro is certainly no less fragile than he has ever been, why not just alternate between the two of them whenever the fifth start comes up for the rest of the season? You make one or the other one available to be a long man/mop up guy in low leverage situations when he's several days out from his next scheduled start. That kind of pen work would be less taxing than a start, but would be enough to (a) keep an old man loose; and (b) rest up more valuable members of the pen. And don't tell me that Moyer can't warm up like a reliever anymore. Guy throws 80. It doesn't take much warming up to do that.
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3: Steve Simmons of Sun Media wrote this yesterday morning about Roy Halladay: "It's Halladay's desire to pitch in the post-season, and if that's the case he's going to have to toughen up and get used to being swamped by the media (something he detests) and get used to pitching under pressure (the Blue Jays are 1-7 in his past eight starts)." What Simmons didn't mention is that the Jays only scored 21 runs for Halladay in those eight starts, and that's not going to help you no matter how you stack up psychologically, no matter how much guts you have, whether or not you have swagger or any of that garbage. Roy Halladay needed some run support. He got some. He won. It's pretty simple. Simmons can take his pop psychology elsewhere.
Rangers 7, Angels 0: Derek Holland throws one of the more dominant starts of the year (CG, SHO, 3 H, 8K) against the best offense in baseball, and the Rangers take two of three from the division-leading Angels. The part of me that likes to see my preseason predictions borne out wants to see the Rangers overtake Anaheim, but I don't really think that's going to happen. The part of me that likes interesting things to happen in baseball would like much more to see the Rangers overtake the Sox for the wild card lead and hold it for the rest of the season. Given that they're now tied, such a thing seems eminently doable.
Rockies 11, Cubs 5: Chicago out-hits the Rockies 17-14, but gets killed in the column that matters most, and by that I mean the column that reads "facial hair." From reader Chris Koz: "I felt you should be alerted to Ryan Spilborghs' new look. I was watching the Cubs-Rocks game and I'm not really sure what he was going for there . . . gay pirate, maybe? It was kind of a bulldog mustache with chops coming all the way out to the stache, coupled with a vertical stripe on the chin." I'm not sure if that look has a name, but it certainly has power. In other news, I had mentioned several months ago that my four year-old boy wanted a new baseball cap (he was three when I first mentioned it). I let him look at every Major League cap, and stood ready to let him get any one he wanted (though I was going to veto Boston and New York on general principles). He picked the Cubs, probably because his name starts with a "C". After many delays, he finally got the cap. He looks pretty spiffy in it. I sit here this morning wondering whether having the cap will turn him into a Cubs fan or whether he views it as nothing more than a cap.
Athletics 6, Royals 3: I grew up during the age of the two-division setup. For 25 seasons -- 1969-1993 -- the A's and Royals shared the AL West. In 16 of those 25 years, one or the other won the division. In 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, and 1989, the Royals and the A's finished 1-2 (or 2-1). All through my childhood, then, one of those two teams, or both, represented the class of AL West baseball. I know the A's are no longer a perennial power and I know it's been a long time since the Royals have done anything, but something in my baseball DNA still twinges when I think of these franchises. Twinges in such a way as to make me take a little more notice of their futility than that of other bad teams. I think that's why I tend to pick on the Royals and A's more than a lot of other bad teams, anyway. Like they deserve my scorn more than, say, the Pirates, because once upon a time in my childhood, they used to be something in ways the Pirates (or whoever) never were. No point to this apart from it being more interesting to think about these teams' pasts than their presents.
Mariners 11, Rays 2: Scott Kazmir's nightmare season continues (4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER). It was hot here in Columbus yesterday, and for reasons that aren't really important, I always make a point to listen to Jane's Addiction's "Nothing Shocking" on the hottest days of the summer. For that reason, when I looked at this box score and saw "D. Navarro" I thought that Dave Navarro was catching for the Rays. That would be cool.
Mets 5, Padres 1: Johan Santana (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER; 2-3, RBI) was one of the few bright spots for a Mets team that dropped the first three of the weekend series to the Padres.
Cardinals 7, Pirates 3: Everything came unraveled for Pittsburgh in the eighth, when Matt Capps gave up a pinch-hit homer to Schumaker and then decided to plunk Pujols, got ejected, and then three more runs scored. Joel Pineiro gave up nine hits, but he doesn't walk anyone, like ever, so he got away with it.
Tigers 8, Twins 7: Newly acquired starter Jarrod Washburn got beat around for the the second time in two starts since the trade (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER), but Twins' starter Scott Baker was beat up worse (4.1 IP. 9 H, 6 ER). Michael Cuddyer had two homers. Curtis Granderson swiped a base and is now in the 20-20 club for the second time. The Twins have lost seven of nine and are now 5.5 back of Detroit.
Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 2: And that's eight in a row for the Nats. It's really been the offense doing it for them, as their run totals on this streak are 5-8-6-5-12-7-5-9.
Astros 2, Brewers 0: Wandy Rodriguez continues his fantasticness (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER). Houston is now tied with the Brewers for third in the division, six back of St. Louis, though I don't think that either they or Milwaukee looks like they have the oomph to hold on and make this a three or four team race.
Indians 8, White Sox 4: Cleveland has won 12 of 18. I guess they should have ejected the core earlier. Jamey Carroll -- Jamey Carroll?! -- went 2-5 with a double, a homer and three RBI.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:02am
After decades of slamming the Chicago Tribune in particular, and several months of loudly proclaiming that newspapers are dead, Jay Mariotti is supposedly going to be doing a weekly column for the Tribune as of September 1st.
Which is fine, because I am capable of ignoring Mariotti across multiple platforms. I just wonder if, in light of this, he's going to start cutting anyone else who changes his mind once in a while any slack.
Shall I hold my breath?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:26am
Part of me wonders if I'll ever write a post like this one from Andrew Sullivan. Then I realize that, by definition, it's easier to blog about baseball than politics because, while I feel very strongly about the issues in the game, neither those issues or my writing about them is going to impact anyone's life too terribly. I don't know how you can weigh in on health care and war and all of that and not to feel some of the weight.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 11:34am
Things to think about the next time you complain about your 20 minute flight delay. Things I wrote about while complaining about my colleague who was late with the Monday morning donuts:
I'll be back after I finish up writing a motion to dismiss a complaint that fails to raise a real or justiciable controversy. I hate using that as a defense, because I truly believe that I can turn anything into a real argument if you give me enough time.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:34pm
Steroids and libel suits go together like liver and onions: really well actually, but they still leave a bad taste in your mouth:
The publisher and authors of a book about steroid use in major league baseball were sued today by a Texas man who says they falsely claimed he was "pushing" steroids to professional athletes and using his gym as a front for selling drugs, according to The Gibson Law Firm.
I didn't read it and don't know too much about the underlying facts of any of it, so I can't really opine on the merits. I'll say, though, that, given the subject matter, the publisher here probably had about 247 lawyers look this thing over for potential lible liability prior to releasing it.
Or at least I hope they did. Can't tell with big publishers these days.
(link via BTF)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:39pm
Jermaine Jackson got himself a souvenir yesterday:
In the bottom of the second inning, Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal lifted a foul ball toward the area where Jackson was sitting, and Jackson didn't hesitate. Jermaine, a right-hander wearing a Manny Ramirez No. 99 jersey, made a nifty backhanded grab and celebrated the snatching of the souvenir. Not surprisingly, Jermaine caught the ball while wearing one glove. A baseball glove.
I'd call it an Epic catch, but you'll remember that Jermaine married Berry Gordy's daughter and thus stayed at Motown.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:49pm
AmLaw Daily is talking about that MLB-Topps baseball card deal from last week and raises the notion that Upper Deck could file an antitrust suit. Countering that is the assertion in the article that "In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court established a common-law exemption for Major League Baseball in cases involving antitrust laws, a decision most recently affirmed in 1972."
Well, sorta. Given the rather fluky basis of the exemption itself, the scope of baseball's exemption is rather murky. Yes, the Flood court said in 1972 that it's up to Congress to fix the original 1922 ruling, but many courts have hacked into it over the years and there really is no clear consensus as to how broad it is. I've long argued that a well-conceived challenge to the exemption could pass muster with the courts, mostly because, the Supreme Court's comments in the Flood case notwithstanding, there is nothing stopping it from changing its mind and overturning the Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore case. I don't know if baseball cards can form the basis of a well-conceived challenge, but I'm guessing that Upper Deck is going to seriously consider the issue.
As a childhood baseball card dude I'd rather like, on sentimental grounds, to see order and brand scarcity injected back into the card market if at all possible. Indeed, I blame Upper Deck for kind of ruining much of what I liked about cards back in the day. But I'd much rather see baseball's antitrust exemption disappear than a small part of my childhood restored, so I'm rooting for Upper Deck in this one.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 3:30pm