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?

Today is the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Iron Man streak ending

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, MARCH 31 AND THEREAFTER - FILE - In this Oct. 5, 1938 file photo, New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig scores the first run of the 1938 World Series against the Chicago Cubs as he crosses home plate in the second inning of Game 1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. A dozen years before Babe Ruth’s famed ‘Called Shot,’ teammate Lou Gehrig hit an equally dramatic homer. Gehrig was 17 when his high school team traveled to Chicago to take on a Chicago team. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and his team down 8-6, Gehrig hit a ball over wall and onto Sheffield Avenue to win the game. The historic ballpark will celebrate it's 100th anniversary on April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/File)
Associated Press
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Today is a significant baseball anniversary. On this day in 1939 Lou Gehrig asked out of the lineup as the Yankees played the Tigers in Detroit. It both ended his Iron Man Streak at 2,130, but also marked the beginning of Gehrig’s very public acknowledgement of ALS, the disease which would come to bear his name. Gehrig would never play again.

While it was clear that Gehrig’s body was betraying him and his baseball skills were abandoning him in the first few games of the 1939 season, some say the ultimate impetus for Gehrig asking out of the lineup happened earlier that day. The story goes that Gehrig collapsed on the grand staircase of the Book-Cadillac hotel where the Yankees were staying and that later, as he sat in the hotel bar, he told manager Joe McCarthy that he couldn’t play anymore.

The Book-Cadillac is still there. It deteriorated over the years and then was renovated. It’s a Westin now — the Westin Book-Cadillac. It’s a wonderful hotel and the bar area still has much of its old charm, but the grand staircase is gone, replaced with a couple of escalators. I stay there whenever I’m in Detroit. I’m friends with one of the Book-Cadillac’s bartenders and I try to see him whenever I’m there. When I sit in that bar I often wonder if Gehrig sat near where I was, telling McCarthy that he just couldn’t do it anymore. There are a lot of ghosts in Detroit. Gehrig’s is mostly in New York, but there’s a little bit of him in Detroit too.

Cal Ripken would later break Gehrig’s record. I doubt anyone breaks Cal’s. But in some cases the record holders are less interesting than those who were surpassed.

More talk of a juiced ball

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Washington Nationals practice balls  during spring training workouts on February 18, 2014 in Viera, Fl.  (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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At the end of March we linked a story from Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh at FiveThirtyEight which sought to figure out why home run rates have spiked. Their theory was that it was either randomness or a juiced ball. They tested baseballs and found no evidence of a different ball, so that seems to have ended that.

Except it didn’t end it because, as so often is the case in the early part of a season, we are seeing some statistical, well, let’s just call it “interestingness” and people don’t like to let such interestingness go. To that end Yahoo’s Jeff Passan — acknowledging the Lindbergh/Arthur study — asks once again if the balls are funky.

It’s all based on exit velocity of baseballs, which Passan notes has spiked. He doesn’t come to any conclusions — just not enough data — but the very act of asking the question in a column and Passan’s acknowledgment that he sounds like a conspiracy theorist tell you that that’s his hunch. And it could be the case. I still think the ball got juiced in 1987 and again, on a more permanent basis, in 1993, but there’s no evidence to really support that. Just one of those “can’t think of anything better” sort of situations.

For now, though, it’s May 2. And I suspect that for as long as there have been May 2nds in a baseball season, people have looked at the stats and suspected something weird was afoot. Maybe something weird is afoot. We just can’t really know.

A-Rod knows how to keep his bat dry

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez watches his RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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Alex Rodriguez had a big night in a losing effort last night. He homered and drove in four. In the past week or so he’s raised his average over 50 points and may be finally shaking off the offseason rust. When you’re over 40 it takes you longer to do everything.

But even if it takes his reflexes some time to get up to speed, you can never take away the knowledge and experience of a savvy veteran with a high baseball I.Q. For example, whether he’s hitting or not, the man knows that it’s important to keep your bat dry on a rainy night:

Sean Burnett opts out of his Dodgers deal, to sign with the Braves

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Burnett walks off the mound after being pulled during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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In early April the Dodgers agreed to a minor league contract with pitcher Sean Burnett after he didn’t make the Washington Nationals’ roster out of spring training. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. As is usually the case, veterans like him have an opt-out if they don’t make the big club after a certain amount of time, and Burnett has opt-ed out, realizing that he’s likely not in the Dodgers’ plans.

But he could be in the Braves’ plans. They stink on ice. Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that he’s signing with them and will report to Triple-A Gwinnett tomorrow.

Burnett, 33, hasn’t appeared in the majors since he pitched three games for the Angels in 2014 and hasn’t pitched regularly in the bigs since 2012. Tommy John surgery will do that to a guy. He did toss eight and two-thirds scoreless innings for the Nationals during spring training and has allowed only two earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings of relief work for Oklahoma City. There may still be something there. Innings will need to be eaten in Atlanta this year. Burnett may be able to eat them.