Sunrise Cactus

Off to Spring Training

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I’m hopping on an airplane here shortly and heading for Arizona. That’s right, kids, a week in the Valley of the Sun, taking in Cactus League action.  I assure you, though, I won’t be enjoying myself at all. It’ll be all work. Really. Truly!

OK, maybe I’ll enjoy it a little. But I will be working.  As I have done for the past couple of years, I’ll be filing several reports a day from spring training complexes, telling you the stuff I see as I wander around.  Also, because I am now occasionally associated with an actual television network and I am thus, in the eyes of media relations professionals, respectable, I will be doing a handful of interviews with actual baseball players for NBC SpotsTalk.  I’ll try not to be all Chris Farley about it, but I’m not confident (“Remember that time you got that hit in the playoffs? That was awesome”).

Anyway, here’s the schedule for the week:

  • Tuesday: White Sox vs Angels in Tempe: Pujols-a-palooza!
  • Wednesday: Rangers vs Padres in Peoria: Yu Darvish’s first scheduled start!
  • Thursday: Angels vs Indians in Goodyear: I shall stalk my daughter’s favorite player, Shelley Duncan!
  • Friday: Indians vs Brewers in Maryvale: I finally get to give Ryan Braun that hug you readers think I want to give him!
  • Saturday: Reds vs A’s in Phoenix: Manny bein’ Manny!; and
  • Sunday: Cubs vs Dodgers in Glendale: I’ll write an alternate history in which each of these teams are elite and big-spending and I may give Frank McCourt I big, wet sloppy good-bye kiss.

In addition to posting I should be tweeting like crazy too, so give a follow: @craigcalcaterra.

Talk to you from Arizona, ladies and germs. And remember: wear sunscreen.

Umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 12:  Home plate umpire Bob Davidson yells at bench coach Jeff Banister #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after tossing him from the game against the New York Mets during the game on June 12, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke have retired.

Davidson, 64, was known as “Balkin’ Bob” for his tendency to call pitchers for balks. Davidson has also made a name for himself picking fights with players and managers, as well as unnecessarily escalating situations.

Hirschbeck, 62, didn’t quite have the reputation Davidson had, but he had a couple of notable incidents on his profile as well. Last year, when ejecting Twins slugger Miguel Sano, Hirschbeck said, “Get the [expletive] out of here.” In 2013, he threw a drum of oil on a fire that very easily could’ve been snuffed out with Bryce Harper.

Joyce, 61, was a well-liked and well-respected umpire who will go down in history for one mistake. On June 2, 2010, Tigers starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. Indians second baseman Jason Donald hit a weak grounder about halfway between first and second base. Miguel Cabrera went to his right to field it and flipped to Galarraga covering first base. It was a close call, but Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe, ruining Galarraga’s perfect game. To both Joyce’s and Galarraga’s credit, both handled the mistake with the utmost class.

Craig also wrote in detail about Joyce a few years ago. It’s worth a re-read.

Tim Welke, 59, actually announced his retirement last year, but I guess it wasn’t made official until recently. He underwent a left knee replacement procedure in January last year and then had his right knee replaced five months later.

Report: Facebook and MLB in discussions to stream one game per week

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 21:  Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerber gives his speach during the presentation of the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on February 21, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress will start tomorrow and will host some of the world's largst communication companies, with many unveiling their last phones and gadgets.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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CNBC, citing Reuters, reports that Facebook and Major League Baseball are in discussions to stream one game per week.

Streaming is becoming more and more ubiquitous as it’s a more convenient way for people to access media they like. MLB Advanced Media, which handles MLB’s streaming service, is worth several billions of dollars. Last year, Disney paid $1 billion to purchase a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, the independent company MLBAM launched for its streaming.

Millennials and “Generation Z,” in particular, are driving the streaming trend. Forbes, citing the Digital Democracy Survey in 2015, reported that 56 percent of millennials’ media consumption was done via computer, smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. Those 30 years and older rely on television to watch film and TV shows at a clip higher than 80 percent.

Twitter is already in the sports streaming arena. It streams MLB, NFL, and NHL games as well as the PGA Tour.