Craig Calcaterra

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Associated Press

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s


There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.

No trade: Yasiel Puig is staying with the Dodgers. At least for now.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig looks to the dugout for signs as he steps out of the batter's box while facing Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2016, in Denver. Puig drew a walk, the first of three in a row yielded by Lyles. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Getty Images

Yesterday it was reported that Yasiel Puig was claimed on waivers. But, as we know, waivers in August are revocable, meaning that just because a team claims a guy doesn’t mean they get him. And just because a waiver claim gives you a right to negotiate with the player’s team regarding a trade, doesn’t mean a trade will be made.

That seems to be what has happened with Puig, Jon Heyman reports that the allotted time for the claiming team to negotiate a trade had expired so the Dodgers pulled him back. ESPN’s Jim Bowden has reported that the team that claimed Puig did so in order to block another team from claiming and then trading for Puig, which happens fairly often in these scenarios.

Puig continues to rake for Oklahoma City. He’s hitting .348/.400/.594 with 4 homers and 12 RBI in 19 games since being sent down. His season may end with the Triple-A season on September 11. Or, possibly, he could be called up to the Dodgers once again any time after tomorrow when the rosters expand.

At this point, who knows?


Give a warm welcome to new HBT writer Ashley Varela!

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Library of Congress

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Ashley Varela, HardballTalk’s newest writer. Ashley will be providing news, analysis and whatever degree of nonsense she chooses to offer on Friday nights and on Saturday and Sunday during the day.

Ashley is based in Oakland, California. She has written about baseball for several years now, with her work appearing online and in print at SB Nation, USA Today Sports Weekly, Baseball Prospectus and some other places. Which just goes to show you that, unlike when Bill and I were hired, we now care about things like “experience” and “qualifications” and “the ability to put grammatically correct sentences together on a consistent basis” when giving someone a job. Bill and I got in just under the wire, frankly.

Ashley is also unique in that, unlike Bill and I, she actually has played competitive sports, as a member of the Cha Cha Mermaids intramural softball team in Santa Barbara, California. You can still tell Bill and I that we don’t know what we’re talking about since we haven’t played the game, but you can’t do that to Ashley.

In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers being horribly biased, you should know that Ashley is from Seattle and is thus a fan of her hometown Seattle Mariners. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking the things you hate, Ashley voluntarily attends games at the Oakland Coliseum whenever possible. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking really bad players from our favorite teams (see, Francoeur, Jeff; Howard, Ryan; and Francoeur, Jeff), Ashley was heartbroken when Munenori Kawasaki left the Mariners.

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Munenori Kawasaki #61 of the Seattle Mariners practices during a workout session at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 27, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
“I miss you too, Ashley”

Ashley starts this Friday evening. Give her a follow on Twitter. And give her a warm welcome once she starts posting stuff.