Craig Calcaterra

Hector Noesi

Hector Noesi, five other pitchers have been wearing kevlar padding inside their caps

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We first heard about these kevlar domes that can be place inside pitchers’ caps a few years back. They’re made by a company called Unequal Technologies. At the time, Major League Baseball was looking into the product and it was said that they were trying to accelerate the timetable of their production. They have yet to be approved, however, as the product has undergone changes in the past couple of years. In the meantime, MLB has introduced a padded cap made by another company that, at present, no player is wearing.

Over the weekend, CSNChicago.com mentioned that White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi was wearing the Unequal Technologies padding in his cap. Today Willie Weinbaum of ESPN.com reports that six different pitchers were using it:

An MLB executive told “Outside the Lines” on Sunday that it was looking into the use of the Dome inserts and was reserving comment. Pitchers are free to wear protective headgear of their choice, as long as it doesn’t interfere with competition or with MLB licensing agreements.

Interesting stuff. And not just because “Unequal Technologies” sounds like the name of a company from a lost Ayn Rand novel or, like, a G.I. Joe cartoon.

Kris Bryant homered twice over the weekend

Kris Bryant
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The Cubs’ third baseman, Mike Olt, was smacked on the wrist with a pitch over the weekend but luckily didn’t break anything. He’s also 2 for his first 13. The heir apparent, Kris Bryant, is cruising in Iowa. This from yesterday:

On the young season Bryant is 5-for-16 with two homers, a double and seven driven in. Only one walk, though, so it’s probably good that he’s getting that highly necessary seasoning.

Just figured you’d want an update.

“Why Ted Cruz is like the Atlanta Braves”

Ted Cruz
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I saw the headline from this Daniel Drezner column at the Washington Post and immediately thought “they both attract a lot of white dudes and have serious delusions about how good they’ll do in the long run.” But apparently it’s not about that.

Rather, it’s about how trying to form coherent, explanatory analysis in the early stages of political races is every bit the folly that it is to form coherent, explanatory analysis in the early stages of a baseball season. Small sample sizes, noises in data and the realization that the contest in question is marathon and not a spring render almost all early-going analysis dumb and/or empty.

Yet both baseball writers and political writers still do it. They try to tell us “what we’ve learned” after five games or one week’s worth of speeches. They try to frame the narrative now, before someone else does, when no narrative of any substance whatsoever could possibly have formed yet.

I’ll leave the political analysis to people who know it better than me. But I’ll offer that, in almost all cases, summaries of where teams stand and what we’ve all learned in the baseball season so far aren’t worth your time.

The Cardinals have a cool, old school-style scorecard

cardinals logo square
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I am a sucker for old baseball programs. I once wrote a long, rather high-minded thing inspired by them which sort of explains that fascination (and I think it actually holds up). But most programs these days are boring. Posed shots of the three best players, maybe. A logo and some TV sports production-level graphics. I realize that programs are really revenue generators and advertising delivery devices, so if  the artistry of the past seems mostly gone with these things, it’s because form is following function. But I do sort of miss that old artistry.

Which makes me so happy to see the Cardinals’ latest scorecard. It’s quite the throwback to those old ones, and it gets bonus points for taunting:

The “learn to score the Cardinal Way” in the upper righthand corner made me roll my eyes, but it’s more than made up for by that absolutely hilarious empty-handed Pirate. And I’m screen-capping the miserable Cub for future reference.

This is all kinds of fun.

Bryan Price thinks Jason Heyward’s slide into third was “dirty”

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In yesterday’s Cardinals-Reds game, Jason Heyward hit an RBI double that he tried to stretch into a triple. Brandon Phillips fired the relay throw and Todd Fraizer applied the tag to a sliding Heyward at third for the out. You can watch it here. Before you do, however, know that Reds’ manager Bryan Price thinks it was a dirty slide. From the Post-Dispatch:

“Something happened at third base with Heyward. I thought that was a bad slide there,” Price told reporters. “I thought that was a dirty slide and I didn’t like that at all. He’s not a dirty player, but I just thought it was a bad slide and a dirty slide. It could have really affected Frazier and I’m not happy about that nor are any of our players. Hopefully we’ll be able to use it as fuel in this series to find ways to win games like (this).”

It was a late slide, sure, but dirty? That seems like a stretch. Note that third base coach Jose Oquendo is standing there passively, not telling Heyward to slide, so it’s also possible that Heyward assumed the relay throw was going home and didn’t realize he needed to slide until it was too late for a cleaner one. Also, note how instantaneously Heyward popped up to make sure Frazier was OK. Derrick Goold’s story about it at the Post-Dispatch likewise notes that Heyward showed immediate, evident concern for Frazier after the play.

There is a history of bad blood between these two teams. Some bad blood that, in once case anyway, ended a guy’s career. For Price to be talking up a seemingly innocuous play and saying that it should provide “fuel” seems pretty dang irresponsible, frankly.