<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Ortiz selfie

Yep, it’s January. We’re talking about “selfie rules” at baseball games

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Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi was watching a soccer game last night when a player took a selfie after scoring a goal and it went mildly viral. This probably amused some people. It probably annoyed some other people. Morosi was inspired:

As I watched the scene at Stadio Olimpico from a continent away, my thoughts wandered back to the sport I cover: Baseball should do something like this.

After which he makes a case for how baseball should and could implement a designated selfie camera and that there would be rules about it and everything.

I assume — and sincerely hope — that the impulse here was tongue and cheek and an excuse to write a few amusing words about something with a vague baseball connection during a particularly dead time in baseball’s offseason. God knows I do that all the time. But the form of the argument seems disturbingly earnest, as if it’s a proposal Morosi actually supports. Or, at the very least, cares about enough to take a position on one way or another. It’s hard to tell with Morosi sometimes. He means well. I truly believe that. But he has some uncanny valley element to him sometimes that makes it hard to tell what note he’s actually trying to strike.

But I do know this much: if baseball did institutionalize selfies like Morosi suggests, we’d begin a tedious conversation about the proper time to take selfies, the unwritten rules of selfies and, eventually, some pitcher is gonna hit a guy because he felt his selfie disrespected the game or some nonsense. Then someone would talk about how Bob Gibson would plant a pitch in the ear of someone who took a selfie back in 1968 and we’d be forced to take that person seriously for a few minutes.

Oh well. If you need me I’ll be in my time machine, traveling back to 1974 to write a column about how baseball teams should designate a special part of their grandstand for fans who wish to streak.

The Rockies are talking to Ryan Vogelsong

Ryan Vogelsong
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Last week there was a rumor that the Colorado Rockies were talking to the Marlins about maybe trading for Dan Haren. That would’ve been a bad idea given Haren’s fly ball tendencies. It probably would be a better idea than this, though:

Vogelsong was 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 2014 and 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 2013. He turns 38 in July. While he’s not as homer-happy as Dan Haren is, it’s not likely he’d do well in Coors Field either, where he has given up 40 hits, ten of which were homers, in 30 innings over the course of his career, posting a 7.92 ERA.

Hank Aaron to join group interested in buying the Atlanta Hawks

Hank Aaron AP
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Hank Aaron has various titles with Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves and has all manner of posts, substantive and honorary, in and around Atlanta and the country at large. He’s looking to add another: NBA owner. Or at least partial owner:

Marc Stein of espn.com reported on Sunday night that the Baseball Hall of Famer was part of a group seeking to buy the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Stein reported league sources said Aaron had joined Steve Kaplan, a Memphis Grizzlies minority owner and vice chairman; Jason Levien, a former Grizzlies CEO and now the managing general partner of the MLS team DC United; and Indonesian billionaires Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo.

I’m guessing Aaron would be contributing less money than the Indonesian billionaires and would provide less day-to-day input than the other sports executives. But Aaron would not be the first person from the Atlanta Braves family to be involved with the Hawks, as former Braves President Stan Kastan was the Hawks’ GM and President before he took over the Braves.

Aaron’s involvement would likewise help the Hawks’ image locally which, as the linked article notes, has taken a beating lately with the outgoing majority owner, Bruce Levenson and GM Danny Ferry recently making racist and/or racially insensitive statements regarding the team and its fans made public.

Pastor/actor/criminal seeks canonization for Roberto Clemente

Clemente
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If you think the process of getting a guy into the Hall of Fame is murky, convoluted and complicated, you should really look into the history of canonization sometime. It’s fascinating stuff, with at least some parallels to Hall of Fame voting:

  • It’s riddled with no small amount of politics and red tape that stand separate and apart from a candidate’s merits; and
  • It often relies on the assertion of wholly unprovable and often unsupportable claims of miraculous acts.

The biggest differences are that the Catholic Church tends to investigate the unprovable and unsupportable claims better than the BBWAA does. Also, the justification for a character clause with canonization is a LOT more compelling, even if it would likely be employed to keep sainthood candidates out less often than it does in baseball. I mean, let’s face it, there’s more proof that St. Shlabotnik healed the sick than Jim Rice was “the most feared hitter of his day” or that Jack Morris “pitched to the score.” And if Saint Augustine was a baseball player you know that voters would dwell WAY too much on his wild, early days.

Anyway, I bring this up because I just read an article about how a pastor from Pittsburgh is trying to get the Catholic Church to canonize Roberto Clemente. Seriously:

Saint Roberto?

Richard Rossi thinks a case can be made on behalf of the Pirates’ late right fielder, Roberto Clemente.

Mr. Rossi, who directed and played a scout in the recent movie “Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories,” is seeking to document miracles in his pitch to have Mr. Clemente canonized as a saint.

On Friday, Mr. Rossi received a letter from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., that informs him the authority to begin the process rests with the archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This Rossi guy sounds like a peach. He’s a pastor for what the article describes as a “non-traditional church.” He has acted in bit parts in things like the “X-Files.” He did time after accepting a plea bargain following a hung jury on an attempted murder charge. It’s . . . messy.

As for Clemente: yes, he died doing what lay people would properly call the work of a saint. Actual canonization is a bit more of a trick than that. We need miracles here, and not the kind that involve clutch hits. I mean, maybe if it can be proven that he willed Bill Mazeroski to hit that homer in 1960 we can start to fill out paperwork, but I feel like the Pope will require a bit more.

Guy who voted for Troy Percival for the Hall of Fame claims that East Coast Bias keeps Percival out

Troy Percival
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Jim Alexander of the OC Register voted for Troy Percival for the Hall of Fame. This despite the fact that he filled out his ballot with ten votes. Among those he left off to give the local guy his vote: Mike Piazza and John Smoltz.

Alexander got a lot of crap for this last week, and today he answers his critics. His argument, in a nutshell:

  • Percival was, until a certain point in time, just as good as Mariano Rivera; and
  • East Coast Bias is why Rivera, even until that certain point, got more pub than Percival ever got.

That “certain point in time” was 2003, and the comp was based on saves, blown saves, ERA and hits/innings ratio. In those categories Percival and Rivera were pretty darn similar through 2003! Of course, Alexander leaves out the fact that by 2003 Rivera had multiple World Series rings in part due to his extraordinary postseason pitching. And that, after 2003, Rivera spent another decade as the game’s most dominant closer while Percival notched just one more season as a top closer.

But the apples and oranges comp is less bothersome to me than Alexander’s comments about why he feels perfectly justified in throwing a vote Percival’s way. I’ll use his words:

Some of the chattering class even suggested that my voting privileges be revoked. Gee, do I say you should be disenfranchised if I don’t agree with your vote for president?

and

No, my vote wasn’t an attention-getting ploy, nor a protest over the 10-man ballot. It was simply a sincere expression that a guy who finished his career with 358 saves and a World Series ring and was a lockdown closer in his prime with the Angels deserved to at least remain in the conversation.

As to the first point, voting for president is a right people have as citizens. Voting for the hall of fame is a privilege bestowed on baseball writers due to their presumed expertise and insight in the analysis of baseball careers. There is obviously room for a difference of opinion between credible Hall of Fame candidates. But when one votes for whom there is no credible Hall of Fame case — and when that player himself readily admits that — he’s showing that he has no special expertise or insight in the analysis of baseball careers. In that case criticism is quite warranted. Both of the voter (who is clearly letting homerism and his relationship to the player influence him) and the body which gives him the imprimatur of an expert (which does not seem to care that things like homerism and a voter’s relationship to a player influences him).

As for the second point, nowhere in the column does Alexander say that Troy Percival is a Hall of Famer, despite the fact that the reason he is given a balllot is to, you know, select Hall of Famers. Twice, however, Alexander says that he just wants to “keep him in the conversation.” A conversation that only Alexander himself seems interested in having.

And you know what one decent definition of “attention-seeking” is? An attempt at changing the subject to one which no one else but the speaker wishes to discuss.