Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Getty Images

MLB hires Roberto Alomar as a special consultant for developing the game in Puerto Rico

12 Comments

Major League Baseball announced today that it has hired Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar as a special consultant tasked with focusing on youth development in Puerto Rico. Alomar will serve as an ambassador at events and development initiatives and will participate in youth clinics and tournaments.

Major League Baseball has an interest in developing the game in Puerto Rico, as the number of Puerto Rican major leaguers is down compared to what it was in the past. The press release announcing the Alomar hire, however, doesn’t mention that the downward trajectory in numbers of Puerto Rican players began around the time the draft was imposed on the island and teenage players couldn’t sign free agent contracts like their counterparts in the Dominican Republic can.

And, for that matter, like Alomar did himself. He signed a free agent contract with the Padres in 1985, right after he turned 17. I’m sure he has some ideas, though.

Report: Fernandez was likely operating boat in deadly crash

Getty Images
29 Comments

MIAMI (AP) Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was the “probable” operator of a speeding boat that crashed into a Miami Beach jetty on Sept. 25, killing the star baseball star and two other men, according to a report issued Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which investigated the accident.

The 46-page report included a seating chart that had Fernandez at the helm, based on “physical evidence” collected during the investigation, including the pitcher’s fingerprints and DNA on the steering wheel and throttle and projection of his body as he was thrown from the boat. It also listed drugs and alcohol as factors in the crash.

Fernandez’ 32-foot Sea Vee hit Miami’s Government Cut north jetty at 65.7 mph just after 3 a.m. on Sept. 25, the report said. Fernandez and the boat’s other occupants – Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25 – were ejected.

Investigators concluded that had Fernandez survived the crash, he could have been charged with multiple crimes, including boating under the influence manslaughter; vessel homicide and reckless or careless operation of a vessel.

The report also included a text message exchange that night between Rivero and Maria Arias, Fernandez’ girlfriend. She told Rivero the pair had been arguing and asked him to take care of Fernandez. “He’s been drinking and is not in the best state of mind.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews responded and divers found Fernandez submerged under the boat, pinned between the t-top and a boulder. Macias was submerged in a tidal pool next the jetty’s surface and Rivero was submerged, his head and chest under a bolder. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The report describes how officials were not able to identified Fernandez by his driver’s license photo because of face trauma. They searched the internet for photos of Fernandez’ tattoo, which had a baseball surround by gears, to identify him. They also found a Major League Baseball identification card inside his wallet.

Fernandez’ boat was named “Kaught Looking” – the “K” is backwards, signifying a strikeout when the batter does not swing.

According to the report, Fernandez’ mother, Martiza Fernandez, was adamant in telling investigators the day of the crash that her son “was always the driver” of his boat. She also said she didn’t know her son to be a heavy drinker or user of drugs.

Ralph E. Fernandez, a Tampa-based attorney who is a family friend, was also interviewed in a group setting with the pitcher’s mother and several other relatives. He said he knew the pitcher could “throw `em down” and wouldn’t be surprised to learn he had been drinking that night.

The lawyer also described the pitcher as controlling and a “hot head.” He also told investigators he knew that Fernandez had not been driving the boat that night because he was aware of someone who was on the phone with the pitcher at the time of the crash.

“He said this person heard Fernandez giving someone directions when suddenly he heard the crash occur and the phone went dead,” the report said.

Ralph Fernandez did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the accident report.

Investigators met with Yuri Perez, a South Beach club owner who claimed he was on the phone with Fernandez at the time of the crash. But GPS and phone records show Perez was on the phone with Fernandez 12 minutes before the crash, while the boat was still on the Miami River.

An autopsy concluded Fernandez and Rivero had cocaine and alcohol in their systems.

“The presence of cocaethylene does confirm that alcohol and cocaine were consumed at the same time, from 15 minutes to 2 hours of most recent use,” the report concludes.

Investigators found that Fernandez and Rivero arrived at American Social, a Miami bar, around 1 a.m. on Sept. 25 and spent about an hour and 45 minutes. Fernandez bought two bottles of tequila, two vodka drinks and one gin drink. Macias bought three vodka drinks, according to the report.

The trio left at 2:42 a.m. and the crash occurred at 3:02 a.m.

The report says it was calm and dark in Miami – with visibility at 10 miles – when the crash occurred.

—-

Associated Press writer Curt Anderson from Miami contributed to this report.

Doc Gooden says he’ll never speak to Darryl Strawberry again

Getty Images
19 Comments

In the minds of most baseball fans of a certain age, Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry are joined at the hip. They each won a World Series ring with the Mets, each were part of the mid-late 90s Yankee dynasty at the end of their careers and, unfortunately, each had a good deal of their promise as baseball players destroyed by substance abuse.

Moreover, they have always been portrayed as — or assumed to be — friends. And at times they have been friendly. But Doc Gooden says that’s no more. Here are some of Gooden’s comments from Kevin Kernan’s story in the New York Post from the other day:

“I’m tired of him taking shots at me . . . I don’t understand why he constantly tries to take shots at me when I was there to support him. It’s not worth it to reach out to him anymore. What’s the point?”

Gooden is referring specifically to comments Strawberry made about Gooden last summer when, after Gooden did not show up to a public appearance both were scheduled for, Strawberry publicly speculated that Gooden was doing drugs again and suggested that Gooden’s life was in danger. Gooden refuted that and continues to.

No matter what was or was not going on with Gooden, he certainly did not appreciate the public speculation from Strawberry. Speculation that, from Strawberry’s point of view may have been well-intended, though Gooden tells Kernan that he believes jealousy and self-promotion on Strawberry’s part may have been involved.

It’s a sad situation all around. Those guys were super important to a lot of baseball fans at a certain point in time. They also taught a lot of baseball fans a lesson about human frailty and the risk of making a hero out of an athlete. The public saga continues. For better or for worse.