ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 7:  Nick Franklin #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two-run home run off of pitcher Dylan Bundy of the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning of a game on September 7, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Nick Franklin was an Uber driver during the offseason

21 Comments

Rays utilityman Nick Franklin worked as an Uber driver during the offseason, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. He apparently made 9-10 trips and got a 4.8 rating out of 5.0.

Topkin wrote about Franklin’s side job last October for the Times. Franklin said, “I wanted something to do on the weekends because I never really do anything.”

Many people in the U.S. deleted the Uber app from their phones recently because the ride-sharing company undermined taxi drivers while people demonstrated in New York in late January against President Trump’s executive order concerning immigration. People felt that lifting surge pricing at JFK International Airport, the site of the protests, was taking advantage of those protesting from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The #DeleteUber hashtag even trended on Twitter. Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, had been a corporate advisor in Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but resigned on February 2 in response to criticism.

Do we really need metal detectors at spring training facilities?

sloan-metal-detector-1
Craig Calcaterra
7 Comments

MESA, AZ — Over the past couple of seasons we’ve, more or less, gotten used to the sight of metal detectors at major league ballparks. And the sight of long lines outside of them, requiring us to get to the park a bit earlier or else risk missing some of the early inning action.

Like so much else over the past fifteen and a half years, we’re given assurances by people in charge that it’s for “security,” and we alter our lives and habits accordingly. This despite the fact that security experts have argued that it’s a mostly useless and empty exercise in security theater. More broadly, they’ve correctly noted that it’s a cynical and defeatist solution in search of a problem. But hey, welcome to 21st Century America.

And welcome metal detectors to spring training:

scottsdale-metal-detector

Beginning this year, Major League Baseball is mandating that all spring training facilities use some form of metal detection, be it walkthrough detectors like the ones shown here at the Giants’ park in Scottsdale or wands like the one being used on the nice old lady above at the Cubs facility in Mesa.

I asked Major League Baseball why they are requiring them in Florida and Arizona. They said that the program was not implemented in response to any specific incident or threat at a baseball game, but are “precautionary measures.” They say that metal detection “has not posed significant inconvenience or taken away from the ballpark experience” since being required at big league parks in 2015 and believe it will work the same way at the spring training parks.They caution fans, however, that, as the program gets underway, they should allow for more time for entry.

And that certainly makes sense:

sloan-metal-detector-2

I took this photo a few minutes after the home plate gate opened at Sloan Park yesterday afternoon. As I noted this morning, the Cubs sell out every game in their 15,000-seat park. That’s a lot of wanding and, as a result, it could lead to a lot of waiting.

But the crowds here all seemed to get through the line pretty quickly. Perhaps because the wanding is not exactly a time-consuming affair:

Not every security guard was as, well, efficient as this guy. But hardly anyone walking through the gate was given a particularly thorough go-over. I saw several hundred people go through the procedure soon after the gates opened and most of them weren’t scanned bellow the level of their hip pockets. I went back a little closer to game time when most people were already in the park and the lines were shorter. The procedure was a bit more deliberate then, though not dramatically so. This is all new for the security people too — spring training just started — and it’s fair to say that they are trying hard to balance the needs of their new precautionary measures against the need to keep the lines moving and the fans happy.

On this day at least it seemed that fan happiness was winning. I spoke with several fans after they got through the gates and none of them offered much in the way of complaint about being wanded. The clear consensus: it’s just what we do now. We have metal detectors and cameras at schools and places of work and security procedures have been ratcheted up dramatically across the board. That we now have them at ballparks is not surprising to anyone, really. It’s just not a thing anyone thinks to question.

And so they don’t.

Report: Nationals interested in Angel Pagan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20:  Angel Pagan #16 of the San Francisco Giants bunts for a base hit against the New York Mets in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals are interested in a minor league deal with free agent outfielder Angel Pagan. Pagan had a solid 2016 campaign, but he remains unsigned due to his age (35) and perceived durability issues.

If the Nationals were to bring Pagan on board, he would likely back up Adam Eaton in center field and allow the club to push Michael Taylor back to Triple-A.

Last season, Pagan hit .277/.331/.418 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI in 543 plate appearances. He played almost exclusively in left field as the Giants signed Denard Span to play center.