And That Happened: Classic

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Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic” edition of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on July 13, 1969:

Orioles 4, Red Sox 0: A three hit shutout from Mike Cuellar lays the
Bosox low. After two years of upstart seasons — first from these very
same Red Sox and then the Tigers last year — it looks to this scribe like the
Baltimore Orioles are firmly back in control of the American League. The
reason is simple: a class organization, top to bottom, and so will it
ever be.

Royals 7, White Sox 0: Look, great day for Kansas City, but let’s be honest: neither of these teams are going anywhere this year, and I can’t be bothered with this game. I’m far more concerned about this moon shot they’re planning on Wednesday. Look, I know we’re doing this because we have to beat the Russkies, but let’s be honest here. Those boys are going to probably die up in the cold void of space, either because their rocket explodes or they run out of fuel or the lander doesn’t meet back up with the orbital unit or something. Better off if they simply film the whole thing in some Hollywood studio like that way-out movie with the apes and the rectangles last year. The Russians wouldn’t know the difference. Of course no one ever asks me anything and I’m sure I’m the only one who’s thought such fanciful thoughts.

Twins 11, Pilots 1: Bouton got into the ballgame today. Pitched two and two-thirds innings and gave up two hits, one of them a tremendous double by a former teammate of his at Western Michigan, Frank Quilici. They lost this one 11-1 and the Fat Kid hit another. The Seattle staff is impartial in the home-run race between Killebrew and Reggie Jackson. They both kill them.

Athletics 4, Angels 2: The Athletics take one at home.  The only thing dampening this day was a little bit of something that’s all too common on these trips up to the Bay Area: hippie uprising. A bunch of pinkos from up Berkley way were blocking the players’ entrance before the game, demonstrating for workers’ rights or something. Luckily this game’s starting pitchers — Catfish Hunter and Andy Messersmith — worked together to break things up. Good choice with those two. Company men. You know they’d never be swayed by that union organizer brain washing.

Tigers 15, Indians 3: Mickey Lolich runs his record to 12-2 and the
Tigers beat the Indians in the latest installment of the Battle of Lake
Erie. Before the game this reporter learned that Cleveland officials are confident that the last remnants of the fire that broke
out on the Cuyahoga River three weeks ago will be contained within the
next few days. A shame what’s happened down in Cleveland. How envious
the Indians players much be as they visit Detroit these past few days.
Engine of Democracy, capital of the music world. Perhaps one day it can
aspire to the Motor City’s heights, though admittedly, few cities can.

Yankees 3, Senators 1: The Yanks win one on the road in R.F.K. Stadium, which will be host of this year’s All-Star Game on July 24th.  Just got word of the game’s details: they’ll be 25 men on each team, one of whom will be a starting pitcher who will handle the bulk of the game. The rest of the players will either start and play the majority of the game or will sit on the bench in case of an injury or the need for some pinch hitting. As it is an exhibition game, the results will not count in the standings or for any other purpose.  The only difference this year is that, for the first time, the All-Star Game has been expanded into something they’re calling “All-Star Week,” with all manner of festivities to mark the occasion. Rather than just the game on the 24th, there will be drinking and carousing on the 22nd and the 23rd.

Shameful and needless spectacle, I say. It used to be just about the game, ladies and gentlemen, it used to be just about the game. I guess that’s progress for you. Why, some day in the future, if man and woman are still alive we may find that everything we think, do or say will be in the pill we took today.

Er– sorry about that, it’s just that that song is on the radio everywhere you go lately, so the future has served as a terrifying prospect to me of late.

Cubs 7, Phillies 4: The way this Cubs team is rolling, my friends, there appears to be nothing that will stop them from taking the pennant and putting and end to their seemingly interminable 61-year drought. I mean, let’s be serious: who’s gonna challenge the Cubbies? The Mets? Ha! That sad sack club is five games back and doesn’t have a field general the likes of one Leo Durocher on their side. Start printing those World Series tickets now, boys, start printing those World Series tickets now.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 3: Three base on balls for Pirates’ starter Steve
Blass. Rare to see his control rattled like that. I’m sure it’s nothing,
however.

Astros 10, Reds 4: Little Joe Morgan walked twice and scored a run for Houston, but he didn’t get any hits. I wish someone would tell him that if you don’t get hits, you’re really not doing your job as a hitter. Hitting the ball gets things moving along. Walking just clogs up those bases. He could learn a lesson from his counterpart on the Reds, Mr. Pete Rose, who had a couple of hits yesterday and really helped his ballclub. Sure, the Reds lost, but that’s because Larry Dierker is a winning pitcher. Hard to win against a winning pitcher like that.

Dodgers 3, Giants 2: Over 45,000 were in attendance for a close, 14-inning affair. The Dodgers expect even bigger crowds for their August 8th and 9th Family Night promotions, brought to you by Gateway Markets!

Padres 7, Braves 5: No home runs for Henry Aaron on this day, but he continues his torrid season all the same. While Babe Ruth’s hallowed record will almost certainly belong to Willie Mays one day, Hammerin’ Hank stands a chance of hitting as many as 600 or 650 home runs if things break right for him.  If he does, however, his mark should be discounted by historians, what with playing as he does now in that band box of a stadium down in Atlanta. It’s an unfair advantage and a mockery of all competition. As far as this writer is concerned, Babe Ruth — and possibly Willie Mays — will forever be the Gold Standard when it comes to the long ball.

Expos vs. Mets: Postponed:  Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head . . . And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed, nothing seems to fit . . . Hey, I just made that up on the spot!  Not bad, eh? Plunked it out on the piano right here as I was typing. Hope I didn’t disturb my neighbor Burt Bacharach with that one!  He’s been working hard on the score to some new cowboy movie and has a had a serious case of writer’s block.

That’s all the games from yesterday. If you want to discuss these game summaries, I can be reached here:

C. Allen Calcaterra
c/o Hard-Ball-Talk
National Broadcasting Company
Rockefeller Center
New York, New York

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White Sox ballpark to be renamed “Guaranteed Rate Field”

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  General view as members of the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins stand for the National Anthem before the White Sox home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Stadium naming rights have long been with us. They’re just a part of the sports landscape now. Some are pretty spiffy despite their corporate underwriting: “Great American Ballpark” could be the name of a sports facility even if it wasn’t also the name of an insurance company. “Progressive Field” could be the name of a field even an anti-corporate dude like Bernie Sanders could appreciate, at least if he’s sloppy with capitalization.

Others are clunky: “Globe Life Park in Arlington” seems to have both adjective and preposition problems, as if it were run through a foreign language translator and then back again to English. The joint in Oakland went by the name O.co Coliseum for a spell. That was for Overstock.com, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

At the risk of being snobbish, I think it’s fair to say that there are also higher and lower rent names as well. Banks, airlines and beer companies, however crassly commercial they are, seem a bit more respectable and venerable than, say, the fly-by-night dot com companies which named sports facilities for several years. “Chase” and “Coors” aren’t going anyplace. Those places are named after American institutions, even if they’re still corporate institutions. I’m pretty sure that circa 2001 half the stadiums and arenas in the country were named after businesses still being run out of tech incubators in nondescript office parks, their first biggest investment being the naming rights, their second biggest investment being the ping pong table in the break room.

The White Sox have long played in “U.S. Cellular Field.” This is pretty dicey as it is, given that that company is only a regional wireless provider. Fifth largest in the country. Certainly not A-list, and likely far more identifiable to more Americans as the name of a ballpark than the name of a going telecommunications concern, thereby sort of defeating the purpose of naming rights. Which must be why U.S. Cellular is getting out of the naming rights business, leaving the White Sox to find a different naming rights partner:

As the tenth largest mortgage company in the country, is there even any guarantee that Guaranteed Rate will be in business in 2030? If the choices are “it goes under,” “it gets purchased by a larger lender” and “it’s still there,” I am not putting money on the latter choice.

That aside, it’s just a goofy name for a ballpark. It’ll better lend itself to columnist jokes about bad guaranteed contracts for bust veterans than it will to spreading awareness of a financial services company. And don’t even get me started on the dissonance between the ballpark name and its tenant’s ticket price policies:

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Best work on that, guys.

UPDATE: LOL

 

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.