Author: Craig Calcaterra

manfred getty

MLB is NOT happy with that Braves spring training facility proposal


The other day we learned that an investment group that included Gary Sheffield had a proposal on the table for a new spring training facility for the Atlanta Braves in St. Petersburg. And that the Braves were, apparently, on board.

In the wake of that, many of you who are well-versed on the politics of baseball facilities in the Tampa area chimed in to note that this probably wouldn’t be a great thing for the Rays for several reasons. It would put yet another team in their territory and that, even if it’s a spring training thing, it would soak up some bit of baseball demand that the Rays would prefer not to have soaked up. It would also limit the options and maybe the money available for a new Rays ballpark. Really, no upside for them at all.

Well, the Rays apparently got the ear of someone at Major League Baseball about it, because this most unusual statement from the league just hit the wire:

“Earlier this week, Major League Baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays learned of the St. Petersburg Sports Park proposal for the first time.  Major League Baseball appreciates the support that it has received for the construction of Spring Training facilities throughout the State of Florida. The most pressing need, however, is the construction of a Major League-quality facility for the Rays.

“Major League Baseball is committed to working with the Rays to secure a new ballpark in cooperation with the Tampa Bay region.  This can only happen with the support of local political and business leaders.”

This is clearly a shot across the bow of anyone in the Tampa Bay area who isn’t in the business of getting a new stadium for the Rays. And, assuming no stadium is forthcoming, some groundwork laying for the time when the Rays are moved to Montreal or someplace else and anyone complains. A “hey, we TOLD you we needed your help, but you were more interested in spring training baloney!” kind of thing.

Not that MLB isn’t actually mad here. They probably are. Because if they do start building more spring training places in the Bay Area, it gives the league a weaker hand to play one city off of another.

But let us look at the bright side here: Gary Sheffield is still able to piss everyone off, years after he retired. He’s one of the all-time greats, frankly.

Video: Joe West stares down Madison Bumgarner

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 9.30.00 AM

Joe West is one of the worst umpires in baseball in terms of getting the calls right but he is absolutely the worst umpire in baseball in terms of temperament. He seems to truly think that he’s as important as the players and that fans are as interested in seeing him officiate as they are in seeing world class athletes compete.

He likewise thinks that, rather than merely call the balls and the strikes, the safes and the outs, that he’s there to police the demeanor of players. Like he did in San Diego last night after Madison Bumgarner walked a guy and, like a lot of pitchers do, yelled out in anger:


There was a BIG element of Bumgarner not liking West’s strike zone to this, I’m sure, but who cares? West is the ump. His strike calls, even if they sucked, were his calls. An umpire with a normal human ego and a lack of personal insecurity would let Bumgarner huff and puff all he wants, secure in the knowledge that his calls weren’t gonna change. If and only if Bumgarner or Bochy or someone stopped the game to argue balls and strikes would he or should he do anything, as such things call for automatic ejections.

But that didn’t happen here. Bumgarner complained, but took the ball back and was ready to pitch. West decided that he needed to show everyone in the ballpark how big a man he was. He needed to stare the pitcher down, stopping the game to do so. Which, considering that speeding up games was Major League Baseball’s number one priority this year and that umpires were tasked to police it, is pretty amazing.

Joe West is an unprofessional clown who is bad at his job to boot. He shouldn’t be umpiring games at all. That Major League Baseball still lets him is a total joke.

Someone had a baby at Petco Park last night

Petco Park

Corey Brock of reports that a baby — an actual human baby — was born at Petco Park during the fourth inning of last night’s Padres-Giants game.

The baby’s name is Levi, and he was born on the concourse near the team store, Brock says. I hope the team threw in a free Padres onesie. Those things are expensive and that baby gave the Padres their only good P.R. in months.

The baby was delivered by Donna Borowy, an R.N./midwife who works for the Padres. This makes her the first person to bring young talent to the Padres since Jed Hoyer left to join the Cubs. Unlike Anthony Rizzo, however, let’s hope the baby stays in San Diego. Though I wouldn’t put it past A.J. Preller to trade him to the Braves for some overpriced veteran talent. That’s just what he does.

Anyway, Alexi Amarista may have hit the walkoff single that won the game, but this is the true hero from last night:


And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Royals Celebrate

That feeling when you can’t for the life you remember why they didn’t start the season at the end of March like they so often do and, thus, why this isn’t the last weekend of the season coming up now, with the playoffs starting next week and the World Series being ensured to finish in October. Anyway:

Royals 10, Mariners 4: The clinch was obviously important. Having the previously struggling Johnny Cueto allow only three runs over seven innings was, in the short term anyway, just as important. Now the most important business left is to maintain their two-game lead over the Blue Jays for the best record in the AL so that a potential ALCS will feature Kuffman Stadium as the home park rather than Rogers Centre.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 3: Clayton Kershaw got mad at Don Mattingly for taking him out of the game five innings in and down 3-0, but it ended up being the right decision as the Dodgers rallied for six in the bottom half of the inning, while he was still the pitcher of the record and five L.A. relievers shut the Dbacks down the rest of the way. Now, rather than having answer questions about strife, everyone is allowed to say that Kershaw is just “a competitor” and stuff. Wins do that for people. He can thank Chris Heisey and his grand slam for most of that.

Watch what would be a big controversy today if the Dodgers hadn’t rallied but now is no big thing because of hindsight:

Pirates 5, Rockies 4: Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Pirates showed no ill-effects from the previous night’s champagne celebration despite this being a day game. Maybe it’s just that, as celebrations go, “clinching the wild card” is not as party-worthy as clinching a division or winning a playoff series. There are likely unwritten rules about this to which none of us are privy. Oh, and this was the Pirates’ 10,000th franchise win. At least since joining the National League. They played five seasons as the Pittsburgh Allegheneys in the American Association before that, though, and if you counted those games they were past 10,000 a while back.

Rangers 8, Athletics 1: A three game sweep of the A’s, this one behind Cole Hamels‘ six sharp innings, three Adrian Beltre RBI and a Prince Fielder homer. They now lead Houston by three and a half games and head to Houston to play them this weekend. Two wins and it’s over, right?

Orioles 5, Nationals 4: There were no beanballs here, the day after Papelbon hit Machado. My guess is that the Orioles mostly pity the Nationals at this point and realize that Papelbon doesn’t really represent team sentiment. I’d like to think that they also take the notion of living well being the best revenge to heart, and beating the other guys the next day is living well. They did so thanks to a late Matt Wieters homer which gave the O’s their 11th win in 15 games. It’s a nice late season surge, even if it’s a little too late.

Yankees 3, White Sox 2: Carlos Beltran hit a three-run bomb off of Chris Sale in the third inning and while that didn’t put the Sox in a deficit as deep as a well nor give the Yankees a lead as wide as a church door, ’twas enough, ’twill serve. I have no idea why that popped in my head.

Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Evan Longoria hit a homer that started the Rays comeback. It was his 20th, and, according to the AP recap, that put him alongside Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen as the only third baseman to hit 20 homers in seven of their first eight years in the majors. Which seems like a rather contrived and somewhat misleading accomplishment, but hey, it’s not like this game had anything else significant going on.

Mets 6, Reds 4Daniel Murphy hit a tie-breaking triple in the seventh inning and had two other hits. This, combined with the Nats’ loss, puts the Mets’ magic number at three. That means they could very well clinch the division while in Cincinnati. Which could be dangerous. Because there ain’t no party like a Cincinnati party ’cause a Cincinnati party don’t stop.

Marlins 1, Phillies 0: On the one hand it was a low-scoring game between two of the worst and, even worse, two of the least interesting teams in baseball. On the other hand it only lasted two and a half hours, so it was sort of a pull-the-bandage-off-quickly affair. The only score was J.T. Realmuto’s RBI triple in the seventh. Since he’s a catcher I suppose we can call that interesting at least.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 3Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Piscotty combined for all seven of the Cardinals runs. Their last names would likewise make an excellent name of a 1980s cop drama. “Peralta and Piscotty, tonight, right after ‘Hunter’! Only on NBC!”

Indians 6, Twins 3Jason Kipnis hit a leadoff homer and Carlos Santana hit a three-run shot in the third. The Astros send flowers.

Padres 5, Giants 4: The second walkoff win in a row for the Padres over the Giants, this one courtesy of pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista‘s single. Bruce Bochy only used five relievers in the final two innings instead of six like he did the night before. Which, efficiency experts and scientists and stuff would tell you is, all things considered, a better result even if it still ended in a loss. It’s all about energy put into the system and stuff.