Author: Craig Calcaterra

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (48) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. The Braves won 6-2. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Police incident report lists “overdose” as a possible cause of Tommy Hanson’s death


When a 29-year-old athlete dies suddenly it’s only natural to wonder how such an awful thing could’ve happened. And, unfortunately, it’s understandable to wonder if drugs played a part.

In the case of former Braves and Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson, we don’t know and won’t know what his official cause of death was for some time, but Atlanta’s WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are reporting that an initial police report listed “overdose” as a possible “crime” connected to his death. Toxicology reports, however, could take several weeks to come back and a final cause of death determination is for a coroner, not the police.

Sad circumstances regardless.

The Reds are apparently open for business

Aroldis Chapman

The Reds have a lot of good players for being such a crappy team. I can’t decide if that’s more or less frustrating than simply having crappy players.

On the one hand, as a Braves fan, I can tell you that simply having a roster of crappy players is pretty miserable and that it’d be cool to at least see guys like Joey Votto, Todd Frazier or Aroldis Chapman play a lot. On the other hand, if you’re a Reds fan, you have to live with the notion that the team you root for is dramatically less than the sum of its parts and that’s just some existential angst in the making.

Luckily — or unluckily, depending on your point of view — the Reds will likely not have as many good players come spring. That’s because, as Buster Olney and many others are reporting, the Reds are listening to offers on basically everyone, including Chapman. Olney recently referred to it as a Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros-style rebuild.

That may be a tad extreme in that the selling already began last summer when the Reds traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake prior to their walking in free agency and unloaded Marlon Byrd. They got some decent players in return — particularly the three lefties the Royals gave them for Cueto — so it’s not like they’re starting completely from square one. The problem is that their offensive core, led by Votto and Frazier, is going to be long in the tooth by the time anything approaching a decent pitching staff has been assembled and matured. And, in the meantime, the Reds are playing in the toughest division in baseball.

Figure Chapman to get the most play in the short term and then, if he’s dangled, Frazier. In the meantime figure on the Reds not being very good for a few years.

The Yankees and Mariners have discussed Brett Gardner

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have discussed Brett Gardner with the Mariners.

Sherman says that new M’s GM Jerry Dipoto has coveted Gardner for some time and that the Yankees would like to add starting pitching. Sherman says that James Paxton could be someone the Mariners would be willing to discuss.

Gardner hit .259/.343/.399 with 16 homers and 20 stolen bases in 2015. Paxton started 13 games at the big league level for Seattle, posting a 3.90 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 56/29 in 67 innings.

Gambling scandal in Japan leads to the banning of three Yomiuri Giants players


When it comes to sports and gambling, we’re definitely in a time of crazy, crazy transition in which whether it is illegal, regulated, monitored or completely normalized depends, quite literally, on where you stand. Three news nuggets regarding gambling and baseball from the past 18 hours or so make that quite clear.

The Japan Times reports that three Nippon Professional Baseball players have been banned by the league indefinitely following a gambling scandal. The three — Yomiuri Giants pitchers Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto — admitted to gambling on NPB games, high school games and even U.S. Major League games. The team has been fined ¥10 million (~$81,000). No evidence has emerged that the three or anyone else was involved in fixing games, but links to organized crime are being investigated. Regardless, gambling on baseball is illegal in Japan in and of itself.

Meanwhile, Eric Fisher of Sports Business Daily reports that Major League Baseball entered into a partnership with a company called Sport Integrity Monitor, which monitors sports gambling markets for suspicious activity. Many European sports leagues have agreements with SIM — sports gambling is fairly ubiquitous in Europe — but Major League Baseball is the first North American sports league to do so. The idea, obviously, is to look for anomalies which could suggest that a fix is in, either in the gambling market, the game itself or both.

Finally, yesterday the New York Attorney General declared daily fantasy sports sites to be illegal online gambling operations and has ordered the companies not to accept entries from residents of New York state. This includes games run by Major League Baseball’s business partner DraftKings, and FanDuel, in which NBC Sports is invested and partnered.

Be careful out there, my risk-taking friends.

Manfred hopeful for Cuba game; owners to discuss netting

Rob Manfred

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred remains hopeful a big league team will play an exhibition game in Cuba during spring training.

President Barack Obama announced in December his intention to restore diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba, and embassies were re-established in July.

“There are a variety of issues involved there, not all of which are wholly within baseball’s control,” Manfred said Tuesday at the general managers meetings. “Obviously, the federal government has some significant influence on whether that’s going to take place, and there are issues that need to be solved before that can happen.”

U.S. teams played spring training games in Cuba before Fidel Castro’s revolution but none appeared there from March 1959 until the Baltimore Orioles faced Cuba’s national team in Havana in March 1999. MLB has not returned since.

“We got a little time still. There isn’t really a firm cutoff,” Manfred said. “We’re going to proceed internally and get to the point where we’ve sort of identified who would go, meaning which club would go if we can get it done. And one club maintaining flexibility with respect to a spring training date is a lot easier than 25 clubs maintaining that flexibility.”

On other topics:


He said ballpark differences make it impractical to have identical protective netting at all 30 big league venues. The commissioner’s office has been discussing the issue with teams following a series of injuries to fans from foul balls this year. Owners will talk about the matter when they meet in Dallas on Dec. 18-19.

“If you go out and look at the ballparks, it becomes evident that a simple uniform – for example you’re going to net to the edge of the dugout – is not workable, given the variation in designs of the stadium,” Manfred said. “It’s going to have to be a little more complicated than that if, in fact, we move ahead.”


Manfred remains on track to decide Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement by the end of next month.

Then Cincinnati’s manager, Rose agreed in 1989 to a lifetime ban from baseball after an MLB investigation concluded he bet on games involving the Reds while managing and playing. Manfred met with the career hits leader Sept. 24.

“The end of the year is my deadline,” Manfred said. “I’m not telling you that this is coming Dec. 30 or whatever. It will be done before the end of the year, let me be clear about that.”


Baseball and the players union appear to be moving toward a new rule applying to takeout slides at second base. The Dodgers’ Chase Utley broke a leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada breaking up a potential double play during the NL Championship Series.

“There will be dialogue on that topic with this group this week. There will be dialogue with the owners next week and we will continue our conversations with the MLBPA on this topic,” Manfred said. “We see this as a player safety issue and we want to make sure we’re in the right place without committing to whether there’s going to be a change or not.”


Following the start of a federal investigation into whether St. Louis Cardinals employees hacked into a Houston Astros’ database, Manfred spoke to GMs about intellectual property and plans to have the issue on the agenda for next week’s owners’ meeting.

“It’s an issue upon which we will give advice to the individual clubs to make sure that they negotiate individual contract provisions that are protective of what they feel they need to protect,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago or 30 years ago, intellectual property in this business was what some GM carried around in his head and he was going to take with him when he left. … Today the business has changed.”


Manfred hopes to avoid a third consecutive season in which Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA, which televises most Dodgers games, is unavailable to many homes in the market. Charter Communications announced in May it plans to buy Time Warner Cable.

“I’m hopeful that there are dynamics in play beyond baseball in terms of corporate activity that may create some flexibility and hopefully we will get a resolution in time for the 2016 season.” he said.


Wrigley Field last hosted an All-Star Game in 1990. MLB already has announced the All-Star Game will be played in San Diego next year, followed by Miami in 2017 and Washington in 2018.

“It’s a question of how far out we want to be committed right now,” Manfred said.


Tampa Bay hopes with a change in members following this year’s election, the St. Petersburg City Council will allow the team to explore other sites in the area for a new ballpark.

“I believe that Tampa-St. Pete is a viable major league market with the right facility,” Manfred said.