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Tuesday, September 08, 2009
I do my best to steer as clear from politics as possible in this space. But at the risk of crossing the line, I link to an editorial that uses an extended analogy involving Major League Baseball to talk about the health care debate. The upshot: health care reform that involves a public plan would be the equivalent of Major League Baseball itself forming a team that competes with the existing 30 teams:
The analog in baseball would be for Major League Baseball — the corporate entity that oversees the game — to field a team that competed with other MLB teams. And that this MLB-owned team could play by a different set of rules (didn’t need to support its expenses, could have losses subsidized by taxpayers, etc).
I'm kind of torn here, because while the flaming pinko inside of me would like to see some sort of public option, the idea that Bud Selig and Bob DuPuy could do better running a team than Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman is rather laughable.
And folks: I won't tell anyone how to comment, but I'd really like to not see this turned into a serious and ugly political thread. I'm much more interested in exploring the problems, appropriateness or general absurdity of the basic analogy in baseball terms than in bringing health care politics into this space. But as is always the case, it's your thread.
Now, onto that proposal to allow Don Fehr to address our nation's school children later today . . .
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:42am
And gets off with a nice three-game suspension:
Detroit Tigers pitcher Fernando Rodney has been suspended for three games and fined for throwing a ball toward the stands following a game last week.
If some dude had bolted in the wrong direction it could have meant jail. Based on recent precedent, however, he could have successfully fended off a lawsuit.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:58pm
I was reading PFT this morning and came across Carson Palmer saying that he was certain that sometime, maybe soon, a football player is going to die on the field from a collision. Then I read Florio's followup comment: "The worst-case scenario will happen when two guys moving at maximum velocity crash their bodies together at, for one of them, an angle and position that shatters the bones around the top of the spine and severs the cord that those bones protect. And, yes, at some point in the future, it will happen."
As soon as I read that, I thought "See, this is why I've moved on from pro football. They're too fast. They're too big. They're too strong. Someone, dadgummit, is gonna get killed! This is why I like baseball!"
Then I was reminded:
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame has selected the late pitcher Carl Mays for induction, 89 years after one of his pitches killed another player.
I'm still not a big fan of pro football, but it's worth remembering that freak crap can happen no matter what you do for a living. Heck, people die in law offices.
Anyway, congratulations, ghost of Carl Mays.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:34pm
Three day weekends screw me up for a good five days:
Sorry that this post is a bit late today. I've been trying for two hours to work up a joke that ties the Eight Men Out story to my weekend visit to the old railroad town of Thurmond, West Virginia via John Sayles and "Matewan," but there were just too many moving parts.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:52pm
The Giants have called up pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner. Is this evidence that (a) Brad Penny really wasn't the answer; (b) evidence that Brian Sabean thinks he has his own David Price v.2008 on his hand; (c) evidence that the Giants are throwing in the towel in an effort to get the future some innings; or (d) something else I'm simply not aware of because I don't follow the Giants too closely and have been out of town and away from the Internet for a few days? It just strikes me that he doesn't have a slot, and given how young he is, it may be best to rest his arm.
Competing theories appreciated.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:21pm
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Rangers 11, Indians 9; Rangers 10, Indians 5: Lots of runs, Marlon Byrd went 4 for 4 in the day game, blah, blah, blah, but I wanna talk about something else. As I mentioned before, I'm re-reading Nice Guys Finish Last. I'm being really pokey about it, putting it down, reading other stuff, forgetting it for a week and going back again. It just lends itself to that, ya know? Anyway, a few days ago I read a passage I hadn't thought anything of the first time I read it -- probably because I was a kid -- but that I can't shake. In it, Durocher is lamenting the decline of the playing manager, which is how he began his career. The book was published in 1975, the year Frank Robinson became the Indians' manager. Take it away, Leo:
I get a kick out of reading how difficult it is going to be for Frank Robinson to manage the Cleveland Indians and also serve as their designated hitter. Since when has swinging a bat every half hour or so become so taxing on the brain? My bet is that Frank's very presence in the lineup will give the club a shot in the arm. The Cleveland situation was made for Frank Robinson, and Frank Robinson was made for them. A good baseball city, hungry for a winner. A city which has become predominantly black . . . I always said that when it came to naming the first colored manager, Rule #1 would still apply. It was going to be the man who was in the right place at the right time.
A man of his time, I guess, but no less disturbing to see it written like that. Far more disturbing, however, was how Leo used the Robinson bit to note how he thought that Maury Wills would have become the first black manager: "Maury has everything it takes to make a good one," Durocher writes. Of course, Wills went on to become perhaps the worst manager in the history of baseball with the Mariners a few years later. There's no point to this other than to say that times and people change, it's September, and at some point you really have to quit caring about Indians-Rangers games in which no one decides to pitch.
Red Sox 10, Orioles 0: Clay Buchholz seems to be figuring this Major League stuff out (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Two homers for Pedroia. Papi hit a homer too. If he hits one more, he sets the DH record. The next seven games are at home, however, so we're not likely to see fans holding up asterisk signs for this momentous record. The asterisks would not be for the PED thing, though, because no one really cares about that. They'd be in protest of his status as a full time DH which is an affront to good and true baseball the world over. OK, nowhere in the world but the NL and the Central League, but if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Well, would you?!
Cubs 9, Pirates 4: The AP game story referred to the Pirates as "hapless." I think hap-quotient is a lazy post-hoc rationalization for a team's performance. There have been plenty of teams that have won a lot of games with very little hap, and vice-versa. The 1988 Braves? Tons of hap. Lost 106 games. The 1970 Orioles, on the other hand, were a great team, but were almost totally hap-free. You can look it up.
Blue Jays 6, Twins 3: Jon Rauch was tagged with a blown save despite entering the game in the sixth inning. If I were him I'd protest that one, because there was no way he was going to finish that game. Charging a guy with a blown save in a game where he'd never otherwise sniff a save is like charging a guy with robbery when he never got anywhere near the safe.
Phillies 5, Nationals 3: You're not going to believe this, but Brad Lidge almost blew this one in the ninth. Single, ground out, HBP, WP, walk, yanked. The yanking probably came less because he was about to blow the game than it was because the walk was issued to Christian Guzman, who doesn't exactly feature the base on balls in his arsenal. Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th homers, joining Howard, Utley and Werth with 30+ homers. Back in the 80s Donruss would have made a baseball card with all four of them holding bats out over the words "heavy lumber" or something. Do they still do stuff like that? Is Donruss even around anymore? If not, are my Diamond King puzzles worth anything? How about my Ron Darling "rated rookie"? Why am I going on like Andy Rooney?
Marlins 4, Mets 2: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4. It seems like he was lost eight years ago, but it was only June. I had forgotten how great a season he was having too (.335/.423/.527). One can only wonder how 2009 could have gone for this team if they had even a scintilla of luck this year.
Yankees 3, Rays 2: A walkoff Nick Swisher homer wins it for the bombers, his second of the game. This was the Yankees' 90th win, so they can go 0-22 for the remainder of the season and still finish the year a game better than last year.
Braves 2, Astros 1: Javier Vazquez had a nice game: seven innings of shutout ball with nine Ks while smacking two hits of his own. Otherwise the Braves offense consisted of two solo homers and a single from Martin Prado. With this kind of onslaught, it's a wonder the Braves didn't fall out of it long before they did.
Athletics 11, White Sox 3: I haven't seen this many crooked numbers in an Oakland A's box score since monsters like John Jaha roamed the Earth.
Royals 7, Tigers 5: Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk for the second night in a row. Next come the Tribulations and the Red Heifer.
Rockies 3, Reds 1: Eric Young Jr. hit his first home run. Nothing makes me feel older than the fact that the son of a guy who played for a 1990s expansion team is now hitting home runs in the majors. Let me guess: Chuck Carr and Pat Rapp's kids are finishing med school this year?
Cardinals 4, Brewers 3: Fourteen pitchers were used in a 4-3 game. I'd like to think that in using so many guys Ken Macha was just messin' with La Russa and giving him some of his own business. Either way, someone soon is going to get wise to the fact that walking Pujols, intentionally or otherwise, to get to Matt Holliday -- who had the game winning dinger in the ninth with Pujols on base via a free pass -- isn't the smartest move in the world.
Padres 4, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner -- who was born two weeks after I got my driver's license and thus makes me feel just as old as Eric Young Jr. does -- made his debut in place of the aching Tim Lincecum, giving up two runs over five and a third and left the game with the lead. That was against the Padres, though, so that translates into seven or eight runs against a real offense. With this loss and the Rockies' win, the Giants fall three back in the wild card. They had better rally soon, though, because this is the closest thing we have to a race this year.
Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4: Four RBI singles in the eighth lead big blue to a comeback win. The Dbacks turned five double plays in the game.
Angels 3, Mariners 2: A nice start from Scott Kazmir went unrewarded due to poor run support and another blown save by Brian Fuentes, but Erick Aybar's two out single in the 10th saved the day. Both of Kazmir's starts have come against Felix Hernandez. I'm guessing he's getting tired of that.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:43am
Marty Noble either needs to get a life or be imprisoned for abuse of research assistants for this piece on the number nine in baseball.
Not that it wasn't a fun read.
Still, MLB.com is really going overboard with this 09-09-09 thing. I thought the Romans purged all of the numerolgists after the First Council of Nicaea, so what gives?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:15am
I've lived without HBO for the past decade, so I'm just now watching "The Wire" on DVD. Great show, as everyone has said, even if it does cause people to get a really skewed impression of Baltimore, which is an underrated city in my experience. Of course, there is crime there:
The full-sized statue of Cal Ripken Jr.'s No. 8 in front of the Camden Yards baseball stadium was stolen overnight, and Baltimore police said they have arrested four males in the case. City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the statue has been recovered, though many details, including whether it was damaged, were not immediately available.
Though the police aren't releasing names of the suspects, this smells like something Bubbles would do. Omar never would have gotten caught.
BTW, if this inspires a bunch of comments, please be sensitive with the spoilers: I'm only 10 episodes into the first season.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:06am
Another fun Nice Guys Finish Last bit: Leo Durocher going on in 1975 about how, in his mind, Babe Ruth is still the real home run king. The more things change . . .
The best Nice Guys Finish Last bit: Durocher's family pronounced their name "Doo-row-shay" and not "Doo-row-shur." I'm just now getting over Theisman/Theissman and now this.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 11:31am
You're a newspaper columnist. You're on a deadline. You have to find something worthy of 800 words and you're stumped. What do you do? Why, you use a horriffic 18 year-long child abduction, rape and imprisonment as a hook for a rehashed "aren't those athletes just nutty" piece!
It doesn't sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page. Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year. She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn't high-fived in a while. She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.
The writer, Mark Whicker of the OC Register, then proceeds to bullet point a couple dozen "oh, how times change" sports zingers. He ends the piece with what I guess is a pun of some kind: "Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard."
Classy, Whicker. Now please go die in a fire someplace so I can use it as a hook for a "who's hot, who's not" bit.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 12:55pm