Power to the People

What if corporate stadium names were outlawed?

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The year is 2022. A socialist revolution has taken over the United States and most of the ruling, moneyed and elite classes have been put up against the wall in the name of justice. The only members — or fellow travelers — of the plutocratic class who are allowed to continue as they were are professional baseball teams and some of the corporate-backed media which covers them. The surviving media members are spared for their sympathy with unions and generally liberal causes prior to the revolution.

It’s not a bad setup for some of us, frankly.

But those of us who are left are put to work. A balding middle-aged scribe is tasked with renaming the stadiums in which the baseball teams play in order to remove the capitalist labels which have been applied to them. The People own them now and they shall be named to honor those persons, concepts and ideals which The People hold dear. Our hero submits his memorandum to the Central Committee of The Revolution for its approval:

From: Craig Calcaterra
To: The Central Committee
Re: New Ballpark Names

Comrades: please accept my suggestions for the renamed ballparks. I will note that these are just suggestions and that, if no consensus can be reached, the best plan should be for the park to be named after either the team which plays there or the city in which it sits. Simple is best.

  • Yankees: Yankee Stadium can stay. But no Yankees merchandise can be sold and their payroll must be made equal to other teams.
  • Red Sox: Fenway has tradition behind it and no one associates it with corporatism, but if they do, Ted Williams Park will suffice.
  • Orioles: Robinson Park. Brooks has the greater claim, but we can put Frank’s face on the logo too.
  • Blue Jays: TBD once the revolutionary forces complete the conquest of Canada.
  • Rays: Kommunalka Park, as the architecture of this structure harkens back to the glorious Soviet-era apartment complexes.
  • Tigers: It shall revert to Tiger Stadium, as it should have been to begin with.
  • Royals: Kauffman may remain, as it honors an important figure in team history. We should explore renaming the team, however, given how anathema the concept of a monarchy truly is.
  • White Sox: Certainly not Comiskey, as he swindled the working man. Southside Park, perhaps? Dick Allen Stadium?
  • Twins: Killebrew Field.
  • Indians: Obviously this is in flux given the coming name change to the Cleveland Spiders. Feller Field would honor a hero who fought fascism. Doby Park would be good too.
  • Rangers: Michael Young Park would be the classy choice, but if that is not acceptable we can go with what The People actually call it: The Ballpark.
  • Athletics: If Jerry Brown Field is unacceptable, I suggest Rickey Henderson Stadium
  • Angels: I am told that the Committee has agreed not to outlaw religion in the new People’s Republic. I agree, this is probably the best move for various reasons. As such, I presume the “Angels” name is staying. As for the ballpark, clearly, Trout Field is the only option.
  • Mariners: Griffey Park would be my suggestion.
  • Astros: Astros Park. Perhaps Biggio Park.
  • Braves: Henry Aaron Field is the only suitable option, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
  • Nationals: Since the People’s Republic’s Capital has been moved to the Midwest — where it should rightfully be — all allusions to the Washington team being “National” in any sense should be struck. The team shall be named based on geographic features of the region — I suggest “The Swamp Rats” — and the park should be called “The Nest” or something like it. If that’s too much, I offer Walter Johnson Stadium as an alternative.
  • Phillies: Ruben Amaro Stadium, named after the man who did so much to bring down capitalism with his brilliant anti-competitive, anti-capitalist moves over the years. If we only know what sort of hero he was at the time! Alternate: Mike Schmidt Park.
  • Marlins: Play has been suspended for this team until such time as we can remove the body of the Marlins’ owner from the gibbet above the entrance. Afterward we can change the name to Little Havana Stadium.
  • Mets: Seaver Stadium, perhaps?
  • Cubs: Ernie Banks Field, doubleheaders only.
  • Cardinals: Musial Stadium
  • Pirates: Clemente Park
  • Reds: The unfortunate downside of rule by The People is that, when it comes to the Reds, The People have an irrational love for Pete Rose. Let us allow him to be the opiate of the masses in this city and they can go with that.
  • Brewers: Yount Park beat out Molitor Park in a close vote among those on my staff. I will leave it to The Committee to decide.
  • Dodgers: Jackie Robinson Field is nice, but if people want to stay with Dodger Stadium there shall be no objections. Both are, ultimately, products of Brooklyn, but I will note that Robinson had a history of athletic prowess in Los Angeles before the Dodgers did.
  • Giants: Willie Mays Park is the obvious choice.
  • Padres: Tony Gwynn Field
  • Rockies: Rockies Park until such time as someone worthy of having a ballpark named after them surfaces.
  • Diamondbacks: I’d the same goes for the Dbacks. A lot of it depends on Randy Johnson’s relative feelings of loyalty to this club vs. the others for which he played.

Thank you for your time. Hail to the People! Hail to the Revolution!

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.