Craig Calcaterra

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MLB is making the best out of a bad situation in Baltimore

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The empty-stadium game at Camden Yards today is going to be weird. And the Orioles being the “home” team in Tampa Bay this weekend is not ideal. But it’s rather difficult to see what else Major League Baseball could’ve done about all that is going on in Baltimore right now.

Nancy Armour of USA Today thinks differently. I don’t mean to single her out as, I’m sure, there are others who question what’s happening with these Orioles games. It’s fair to question it, as it’s just a weird situation all around and there are not truly satisfying answers. But a couple of the main points are worth talking about.

Her primary criticism is that baseball is “acting out of fear” and that baseball “assumes the worst of the people of Baltimore.” I’m sympathetic to that notion and feel like, if they had a normal game with fans allowed in and nothing bad happened, it would be a good thing that would go a long way toward combatting some of the worst stereotypes of the people of Baltimore since the unrest began. But I also don’t blame baseball for not taking that risk.

What if something does happen? What if riots or violence does interfere with fans going to and from the park? What if someone is injured? The injury would be bad for its own sake and the optics would be bad for both baseball and Baltimore, would they not? Less philosophically, Major League Baseball is a business. A business which has had teams incur liability in the recent past for being unable to ensure the safety of fans coming and going from the ballpark. It’s hard to blame that business for not knowingly taking such a risk in this situation, however much you’d like to see a game with fans pulled off in Baltimore today.

Armour’s other suggestions — moving the game to Washington or Philadelphia — aren’t realistic. She notes that business disputes between the Nats and Orioles prevents the former. Logistics make moving the games to a neutral location all the more difficult. Gearing up for a road trip to Tampa Bay is one thing. Moving stuff to a third location and figuring out the finances of that stuff is a lot more difficult. And who, really, would that serve? Not the people stuck in unrest in Baltimore right now. It might be nice for rich people in the suburbs who can take a road trip to see the O’s play in Washington or Philly, but they aren’t exactly the ones for whom we should be most concerned at the moment.

I agree with Armour and others that this is a less-than-ideal situation. But it seems to me that, between an unbalanced schedule which doesn’t have the White Sox coming back to Baltimore again this year and the risks and liabilities associated with putting a ballgame on in Baltimore at this very moment, it’s the best of many less-than-ideal options.

Why is Masahiro Tanaka even talking to doctors?

Masahiro Tanaka
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Masahiro Tanaka was put on the disabled list due to wrist tendonitis and soreness in his forearm. An MRI yesterday showed that there was no additional tear to his UCL over what came before. What does this all mean? For that, one could consult orthopedists and other doctors. Trained experts who have went to school for years and have mastered what is perhaps the most critical and difficult discipline among all of the professions.

Or maybe he and the Yankees should just have a couple of reporters and some ballplayers weigh in? Like John Harper:

This is why so many teams and pitchers opt for getting Tommy John surgery rather than trying to pitch once they have been diagnosed with a ligament tear. This is why the likes of Martinez and Curt Schilling said they thought Tanaka should have had the surgery.

Nevertheless, Cashman has said all along that the ballclub’s decision was guided by the advice of three orthopedists who recommended that Tanaka try to rehab and pitch with the tear.

That “nevertheless” is the most rich thing I’ve ever heard. Given what Haper has written on this subject before, that’s the equivalent of him saying “welp, you were dumb to listen to medical professionals before, so if you want to do it again, I can’t help you.”

How about Kevin Kernan?

From the moment Tanaka suffered a small tear in his elbow ligament last season, the Yankees and Tanaka have taken the conservative route, the route recommended by team doctors, the route Tanaka wanted to take.

The no-surgery route.

It’s time to change game plans. This is not working. He needs to have Tommy John surgery to have any chance of getting back to being the kind of pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they shelled out $175 million.

Will Masahiro Tanaka need Tommy John surgery? Maybe! I have no idea. It’s a distinct possibility! But his doctors said he didn’t need it before and, as yet, they have yet to say he needs it now. That appears to be good enough for the New York Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka, who are wisely consulting with medical professionals and not the a couple of tabloid columnists who, apparently, have no idea that they aren’t actually qualified to make such assessments.

Of course, if and when Tanaka does go under the knife, I’m sure we’ll get a nice round of “told ya so’s” from these guys. “Told ya so’s” that are the medical equivalent of you or I telling the widow at the funeral that we knew her husband was gonna die one day. Eventually.

Great Moments in Priorities: fan loses beer, cell phone, dignity going after a foul ball

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.42.13 AM
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You can buy an official Major League baseball at any number of sporting goods stores or at MLB.com. They don’t cost that much, all things considered. Arguably less than the cost in (a) spilled beer; (b) possibly broken cell phone; and (c) lost dignity that this dude incurred going after a foul ball.

A foul ball that no one else was going for, by the way. And which, as far as we know, didn’t have a map written to secret hidden treasure written on it. Watch:

 

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Dan Uggla
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Nationals 13, Braves 12: You’d think that all of the money the Braves are paying Dan Uggla that he’d treat them with more respect than to hit a clutch three-run homer to complete a huge comeback against them. The nerve.

Seriously, though: while I don’t much care for Uggla and he was frustrating when he played for my team, I don’t hold him sucking while in Atlanta against him personally. Some do. Many do. Many in Atlanta these past two days booed him and felt bile. Why? Do they think he enjoyed sucking? Enjoyed losing his job and then being released? Of course he didn’t. He probably felt way worse about it than y’all did. Glad he’s gone, but he hasn’t deserved the sort of hatred you see of him among some Braves fans.

I’d rather Uggla hit this homer in a losing cause because, again, he’s playing my team. But if the Braves had to lose this game — and don’t even get me started about their crap defense and bullpen which caused them to — good for him for having a great moment in the ballpark that has been a house of horrors for him. I don’t believe it will turn him back into an All-Star or anything, but even so, he’ll remember this all of his life and have at least one good memory of the past few years of his career instead of nothing but bad ones. We should want human beings who have experienced some challenges to have good moments like that on the other side.

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 8: Like a mini-Nats-Braves game, with the home team jumping out to a lead — here it was just 4-0 — and the road team roaring back against a bad pitching staff. Marco Estrada was the hero here for the Jays, entering the game in the fifth inning with nobody out and the bases loaded — walking in one guy but otherwise limiting the damage — and then going on to pitch three innings of hitless ball. The Sox can take solace in the fact that the Jays have beat the heck out of every pitching staff — they lead the league in runs per game — but it’s hard to imagine how Boston’s pitching could be much worse.

Royals 11, Indians 5: Yet another come-from-behind, big offense game. Kendry Morales hit a three-run homer capped a six-run seventh inning. Alex Gordon homered and drove in two. The Indians have lost 8 of 11 and possess the worst record in the AL.

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: In one of the more nerdy/embarrassing things I’ll ever admit to on this blog, I have had, ever since I was a kid . . . Thomas Jefferson fantasies. No, it’s not a sex thing. And I don’t know why it’s Thomas Jefferson over any other historical figure, but it is. Anyway, here’s the thing: I imagine that Thomas Jefferson was suddenly zapped to the present and is hanging out with me. My job is to attempt to explain the present to him and show him things like air travel and computers and modern cities and stuff like that. He asks me questions about them and I try to answer. I assume that I started doing this as some sort of means of challenging myself to explain my world in terms that do not assume prior knowledge. An intellectual, pedagogical game or whatever. And, again, I have no idea why it’s Thomas Jefferson, but it is. Anyway, I’ve done this since I was ten or eleven years old and still catch myself doing it sometimes.

The whole point of that is to say that, if we swapped out Thomas Jefferson for Walter Johnson or someone, we could play that game with baseball and try to explain to him how it took six pitchers for the Mariners to win a game in which they allowed only one run to the Rangers.

Cubs 6, Pirates 2: The Cubs have won their fourth in a row. Dexter Fowler had three hits and two RBIs, Travis Wood tossed seven strong innings. Conversation had after this game. One of these comments actually happened, as reported in the game story:

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair!

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: Crush your enemies! See them driven before you! Hear the lamentations of their women!

Mongol General: Wrong! Joe Maddon! What is best in life?

Joe Maddon: I love two-out runs, man. They really hurt the other side badly. When you get ’em, there’s nothing more glorious than that.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good!

 

Yankees 4, Rays 2: A win, but one overshadowed by the news that today’s scheduled starter, Masahiro Tanaka, has to go on the DL. Chase Whitley started here — it was just supposed to be a spot start — but it turned out to be an audition for a regular slot in the rotation. It went well, with Whitley allowing six hits and one run in five innings. That’s 10 of 12 for New York.

Reds 4, Brewers 2: This Brewers loss allowed MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince to offer up the joke/factoid of the night:

Johnny Cueto allowed two runs in eight innings, needing only 85 pitches. Joey Votto homered. He’s hitting .316/.429/.645 on the year and is on a 50+ home rune, 130+ RBI pace.

Marlins 4, Mets 3: The Marlins have won six of seven, this one thanks to Michael Morse’s tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth. Dee Gordon got two more hits. He’s batting .400 on the year.

Twins 3, Tigers 2: My girlfriend, a Tigers fan, hasn’t been able to see a lot of games yet this year because (a) the Tigers have played a lot of day games; and (b) they’ve played the Indians a lot and they’re blacked out on her MLB.tv here in Ohio. But she watched the game last night and offered this observation to me over Gchat: “I cant be the only one that finds it hilarious that Mike Pelfrey is good now that he’s with the Twins of all teams.” It is kind of hilarious, even if it may not last. Here he allowed one earned run in seven innings and the Twins won a back and forth affair. Kurt Suzuki had two hits and the go-ahead single in the seventh inning.

Cardinals 11, Phillies 5: Welcome to the big leagues, Severino Gonzalez. The Phillies starter allowed seven runs on ten hits and didn’t make it out of the third inning. Matt Carpenter tripled and doubled and scored three times. Mike Matheny juggled the batting order for this one and I imagine people will credit the offensive outburst for that, but really, I feel like this was more of a Severino-driven kind of thing.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 5: The Archie Bradley ball-to-the-face thing was the big story here, but thank goodness he walked off under his own power. They’ll make an assessment of him today, but he’s probably going on the DL. Offensively, things went much better: Mark Trumbo went 4 for 4 with a two-run homer and a two-run triple. Paul Goldschmidt went 3-for-3 with three RBI.

Athletics 6, Angels 2: The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the A’s took it right back with five in the bottom of the first. After that it was the Sonny Gray show. The A’s ace went eight innings, striking out six and allowing only those two first inning runs. Jered Weaver endured that bad first inning himself to last seven innings, but he’s having himself a terrible start to the year.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Kershaw vs. Bumgarner. Advantage: Bumgarner. The Giants notched two early runs off of the reigning MVP, but that’s all they’d need as the reigning World Series MVP allowed only one run and struck out nine in eight innings. Buster Posey did all of the damage here, with a solo homer and an RBI single. So yeah, the outcome here was determined by star power.

Astros 14, Padres 3: George Springer homered and drove in five runs. Jose Altuve had four hits. The Astros won again. Time to take them seriously, folks.

White Sox vs. Orioles: POSTPONED:  After two postponements, these two teams will play today at 2:05 Eastern. Except the game will be closed to the public. No fans. Empty seats. I put the over/under on guys describing this as “surreal” at 15, because that’s the go-to word these days for odd or different. Or, in some cases “too real,” but that’s another rant. And while all of this is occasioned by some really unfortunate events in Baltimore, let us look on the bright side. If one brave person can manage to sneak into the stands at Camden Yards undetected, and can sit in an empty, cavernous stadium for even a moment before he is caught, he will have the opportunity to offer the greatest “YOU SUCK!” in baseball history. Please, God, make this happen.

Josh Hamilton sent a video of himself hitting to the Rangers back in March

Josh Hamilton Getty
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This is interesting. Today, at Rangers camp in Surprise, Arizona, Josh Hamilton told reporters that he sent a video of him hitting back in March, presumably to show them that he was healthy. Hamilton said, “I sent video to the Rangers of me hitting March 9, full-go,” according to Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register.

The first questions this raises, of course, is one of tampering of some kind. As in, were Hamilton and/or the Rangers trying to get something done back then? Maybe not, based on the circumstances:

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram cited a source saying Hamilton’s video was sent to former teammate Michael Young, now a special assistant, and it was just two friends exchanging video, rather than Hamilton trying to manipulate a trade.

Michael Young is important, but he’s not making decisions for the Rangers. And, of course, Hamilton was persona non grata with the Angels. At most, it seems, this was a “see, I’m healthy” sort of thing. Which Hamilton backed at his press conference yesterday when he said that if he had been allowed to be with the Angels and rehab during spring training he’d be playing now.

Still, as Fletcher notes, the Angels may not be happy about his even if they’re not commenting on it now:

However, it’s not likely the Angels front office would have been happy with Hamilton sending the video if they knew about it. If Hamilton was lobbying the Rangers to acquire him, it could have affected what little leverage the Angels may have to had to make the best deal possible.

Rather rich, one thinks, given that the Angels were doing more than anyone could expect them to have done to eviscerate their own leverage during this time. If they had treated him like they should have, he may have been seen as a far more marketable player than he was perceived to be. And, as Fletcher also notes, this whole episode suggests that the Angels have been lying about Hamilton’s baseball readiness, which was their putative reason for keeping him away from the team.

My guess is that nothing comes of this. Except maybe some serious drama if the Rangers and Angels are playing meaningful games against one another down the stretch.