Ballpark in Arlington

We’re not getting worked up over the new name for the Rangers ballpark, are we?

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The Rangers’ ballpark has a new name: Globe Life Park in Arlington. It’s named after the Globe Life insurance company. Based on what I’ve seen from Twitter and the comments from the earlier post on the matter, it’s not going over too well. It’s either too dull, too lame, too corporate or too whatever else you can think of.

And I really can’t get too worked up over any of this.

The two most venerable ballparks in baseball are named after a gum company and an insurance company. Oh, you didn’t know that about Fenway Park?

[Red Sox owner John] Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or “fens“,[10] to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. However, given that Taylor’s family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, the promotional value of the naming at the time has been cited as well.

How about all three iterations of Busch Stadium?

The brewery originally wanted to name the ballpark Budweiser StadiumFord Frick, then Commissioner of Baseball, vetoed the name because of public relations concerns over naming a ballpark after a brand of beer—an ironic stance, given all baseball clubs’ significant revenues from beer sales. However, the Commissioner could not stop Anheuser-Busch president August Busch, Jr. from renaming it after himself, and so he did . . .

Most ballparks have corporate names now or, like Fenway and Wrigley, have some commercial history to the name. The ones that don’t are Angels Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Marlins Park, Nationals Park, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Turner Field is named after Ted Turner, but his name was on the company which owned the team, so it’s hard to say which way that cuts.

The Angels had a corporate name in the past but reverted. They — and I presume Marlins Park and Nationals Park — would go corporate if the right deal came along. Maybe Orioles Park too. I’m guessing only Yankees, Dodgers and Kauffman would eschew a name-change on principle (or because their brand is bigger than any potential corporate partner’s brand). Turner Field only has a couple of years left and I’d bet my children that the Braves go with a corporate name for the new place.

But I don’t think the jokes made at Globe Park’s expense are because it’s corporate per se. Everyone knows most stadiums have corporate names now. Most people are just mad because it sounds funny. Or flat. But I can’t get too worked up over this either because just about every corporate-named ballpark sounded funny when we first heard it. We just got used to it.

We have Petco Park, which is frankly ridiculous when you think about it. There are two parks named after orange juice. “Comerica” is not a word. Do you know anyone who even uses U.S. Cellular? Really, only the parks named after beer and Great American Ballpark — which a lot of people probably don’t realize is named after an insurance company — sound sort of natural. The rest is just a mishmash of telecom and banking and stuff.

I predict people will joke about Globe Park in Arlington for a couple of days. And will make note of its awkwardness for the first two days of the season at most. And then we’ll just get used to it until the next silly corporate park name comes along.

Or, better yet, we’ll just keep calling it The Ballpark. Those guys at Globe aren’t paying us, after all. So why should we dance to their tune?

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
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After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince people to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.