Shelley Duncan, Dave Duncan in his underwear, my daughter and me


Anna at ballgame.JPGI’ll bore you with one more story about my trip with the kids to the Columbus Clippers-Charlotte Knights game last night.

Shelley Duncan’s name is announced as he comes to bat for Columbus. Anna, my six year-old daughter, hears this and giggles a bit that a man is named Shelley.  I tell her that Shelley can be a man’s name too. She nods, but I can tell that she’s not letting this one go.  The subsequent conversation:

Anna: Why would his mommy and daddy name him Shelley?

Me: I told you, it’s a boy’s name too. [trying to change the subject]: Hey Anna, I actually met Shelley Duncan’s daddy once.

Anna [surprised and impressed, because she believes baseball players are impossibly famous and therefore unapproachable]: Really? Where?

Me: When I went on my trip to Florida last month. His daddy is a coach for another baseball team and I talked to him.

Anna: [still impressed] How did you talk to him?

Me: [thinking I’m impressing my daughter even more than I am] They let the baseball writers in the locker room after the game and we get to talk to the players and coaches. He was in the locker room after a game I went to.

Anna: What do they do in the locker room?

Me: [not paying close attention to where this is heading] It’s where the players take a shower and change out of their baseball uniforms after the game before they go home.

Anna: [thinking hard about this, and then breaking out into a mischievous smile]: Did you see Shelley Duncan’s daddy with no pants on?

Me: [sudden realization that, yes, I actually did see Dave Duncan with no pants on, and that I was actually talking to him as he was getting dressed. Think fast, Craig!]: Um, I don’t remember.


The subject was finally changed with cotton candy.  Multiple innings go by and I figured it was dropped for the night. I was wrong.

It was getting late, I had tired kids, so we left the game in the top of the eighth. As we’re leaving, we walked down a sidewalk that follows along the outfield wall with little places to look-in and watch the game for free. Anna stops as she sees Shelley Duncan in right field, just a couple dozen yards from where we were standing.

Anna: Hey Shelley Duncan! My daddy saw your daddy in his underpants! [followed by giggling the entire drive home].

I have no idea if Duncan heard this. I desperately hope that he did not.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.