People are always asking me around this time of year what sort of baseball gifts to buy friends and family. I don’t always have a good answer to that, but this is a great answer for someone who is both into baseball and Irish heritage, and I know there are a lot of those folks out there: Irish baseball merch.
That merch comes from the Baseball United Foundation, which is a charitable organization whose goal is to grow the game of baseball Ireland. It’s a great time for it too, as the game has started to take hold over the past decade or two and could really use a shove.
Sorry Old Hoss Radbourn. The Irish really do like baseball. Irish immigrants formed its foundation in the United States in the 19th century and now they’re getting back into it.
One of the bigger things the Baseball United Foundation does is ship equipment over to Ireland to help youth baseball grow. They buy it with money, of course, and to do that they have to obtain money. They take donations if you’re so inclined. They also sell some pretty cool Irish Baseball merch. Like this:
They have a lot of other things, one of which is a team shirt for the Belfast Northstars. Yes, baseball in Ireland is both orange and green, thank you. Sales of the Northstars merch goes directly to the Northstars.
So: get some cool stuff and help baseball grow. Sound like a plan? Of course it does.
I feel like I should just leave that headline stand on its own. Or maybe use it as the slug line on the movie poster of the baseball-themed exploitation (“Basesploitation“) flick I’ve been planning. Sort of a Russ Meyer thing. I’ll have more details later.
But do know the subject of the movie could very well be that which is discussed in Joshua Kusnick’s latest over at Baseball Prospectus, in which he talks about how often he is contacted by would-be teen scoopsmiths, looking for tips. In all seriousness, this shocks me:
. . . sometime in 2013 I began to notice what seemed like a potentially negative trend. I was contacted by well over 100 teenagers asking me to be “their source.” I would have people just flat-out ask me for information—sometimes just general information, but mostly secret information. I have gotten all sorts of variations: The “I’d be honored if you were my source” approach, or the “I have dream, just like you had to have had when you were my age, so you owe it to me to help” plea. My favorite: “If you’re not willing to work with me as a source can you just tell me who would?”
Kunsick has advice for these sorts of people, most of which boils down to “man, don’t be such pushy jerks, OK?” Which one would hope isn’t necessary, but apparently is.
I’m not sure what these hundreds of kids are after. I mean, sure, I suppose a lot of them want to be baseball reporters, but I would hope most of them realize that getting a random, minor bit of transaction news doesn’t exactly move that ball forward very much.
Outsports reports that umpire Dale Scott has come out as gay. He’s the first active umpire to do so. Former umpire Dave Pallone came out after he left umpiring.
Scott’s coming out wasn’t done in some big announcement. It wasn’t a political or social stand. It was merely Scott allowing a picture of him and his husband of nearly 30 years, Michael Rausch, to be used in a small magazine profile.
Scott tells Outsports that his colleagues and MLB has known Scott is gay for some time and that it’s not been a thing to them at all. Which makes sense. These guys work together, travel together, eat together, catch all kinds of hell from players, managers and fans together and know each other’s spouses and everything.
And of course this all puts lie to the notion from ignorant talking heads about how openly gay athletes are “distractions” or problems for sports teams. Umpires are a much smaller club who have to work very, very closely together. If it doesn’t “distract” them, it’s not going to distract anyone.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays’ managerial search — which has played out publicly and at length, akin to a game show or something, enters the lightning round today, as the teal begins final interviews with their final three candidates.
The candidates: Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu goes first because he won the coin toss back stage and chose not to defer. Or whatever.
The Rays are believed to want a manager in place before the Winter Meetings. Everyone flies to San Diego for that on Sunday, so there should be news this week.
Kris Medlen is arbitration eligible and could make close to six million bucks if he goes through the process. He’s just coming off of his second Tommy John surgery, however, and teams generally don’t like to give $6 million deals to injury risks like that. Which makes him a good candidate to be non-tendered.
But, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves may try to keep Medlen in the fold all the same, just at a lower price:
Some security for Medlen, some cost savings for the Braves and, of course, the chance to have Medlen pitch for them if he makes a successful comeback.
If Medlen is not non-tendered today, you have to figure it means that the Braves are optimistic of working out a deal.