Scenes from Spring Training: Oh no, there goes Tokyo

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And now, stuff I thought about and observed before learning that Coco Crisp was arrested for DUI last night

I know I’m dwelling on this a lot, but the extent to which Hideki Matsui dominates things here at Athletics’ camp cannot be overstated. From the press box to the on-the-field warmups and even down to the litter you see on the sidewalk outside the ballpark, everything is about Godzilla here.

I don’t envy these guys on the Matsui beat.  Talk to U.S. beat writers who cover a given team and you learn that it’s not easy coming up with a new angle for a new story every day, and they’ve got 25 guys plus minor leaguers and coaches to choose from. Now apply that to the a given Japanese beat writer who has to come up with a new angle every single day for one guy.  And figure in the fact that, rather than the 3-5 beat reporters Johnny Beat Writer has to compete with, the Japanese guys have 20. And they’re doing it over 5,000 miles from home. Poor sods. But I guess it beats working in an office.

They didn’t get to swarm Matsui at his locker this morning, however. The clubhouse was closed due to the annual meeting with MLB Security. Those intrepid souls go from camp to camp this time of year warning ballplayers about the dangers of shysters, bunco artists, grifters, fast women, drug dealers, demon drink and — most of all — Twitter and Facebook. Play cards and carry on all you want, young players, but dear God, watch what you Tweet.

I wandered from the closed clubhouse door and on toward the field when I saw this fellow behind a bench on the third base concourse:

I can haz Trevor Cahill’s autograph?

Then I got on to the field and I saw this:

Can’t help it. I’m a sucker for the equipment-bag-on-freshly-cut-grass-as-the-sun-comes-up-over-the-ballpark shot.  Oh, and I’m also a sucker for anything Rickey Henderson-related:

And the actual Rickey Henderson watching Athletics’ players doing base running drills is more than a little Rickey Hederson-related. “Rickey thinks that Rickey can still run better than any of y’all,” Rickey did not say but I imagine he was thinking.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.