New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

Looking ahead to the Mets vs. Braves

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I went on Ted Berg’s Baseball Show over at SNY.TV this afternoon to help Ted scout the Braves in advance of  the Mets-Braves series. I used the phrases “atrocious,” “terrible” and “sink hole” to describe the Braves’ play of late, so that was fun.  I also made two pretty bad errors:

1. I called Fredi Gonzalez “Freddie Freeman” which is something I’ve been doing while writing since spring training and can’t seem to stop; and

2. I said that the Braves don’t give a long leash to young players. This is patently false and I knew it as soon as I got off the phone with Ted. I had this concept in my brain a couple of years ago for reasons that aren’t clear, and then someone who is not a Braves fan — and thus more objective than me — pointed out to me that I was full of beans.  And since then I’ve noticed and appreciated that the Braves do, in fact, give young players a lot of chances, actually, and one need look no further than the presence of Jason Heyward, Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters in key positions to realize it.

What I said about Freeman still stands — the Braves have no choice but to stick with him no matter how bad he hits — but why I auto-piloted to that “the Braves keep young players on a short leash” thing is a mystery to me. Just wasn’t thinking. This simply is not the case and hasn’t been for, like, a decade at least, even if it was ever true.

Anyway, enjoy.

Claire Smith becomes the first woman to win the BBWAA’s Spink Award

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ESPN
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The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.

Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.

Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Under Armour
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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.