Craig Calcaterra

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Flights of bacon? Ribs in a helmet? The Ballpark Concessions Singularity is upon us.

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The “Singularity” refers to a notion that, eventually, our technology will push so far that it will lead to a point where artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity, thereby radically changing civilization. We will lose complete control, life will become unpredictable and possibly even terrifying. Our creations may bring about our very own destruction.

A related phenomenon: the Ballpark Concessions Singularity, when we lose control over the insanely over-the-top terrible-for-you novelty food they trot out each spring. I mean, it was nice and life-enhancing when we moved beyond mere hot dogs and peanuts and into things like nachos. But we’re entering into a chain reaction of concessions escalation from which we’re unlikely to emerge unscathed on the other side.

The latest example: what the White Sox will be serving at U.S. Cellular Field this year:

 

There is a lot more on their Twitter feed. I’m sure all of them are good for the first bite or so. But then, with each additional bite, our eventual destruction is sealed.

But I guess I’m cool with it if you are. There are way worse ways to die.

It’s time for children of the Steroid Era to take their game back

Barry Bonds
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Here’s a review of the career and meaning of Barry Bonds from Grant Brisbee. Brisbee, of course, is a Giants fan and blogger, so it’s not an objective review. But why the hell should it be? People who write the assessments of the all-time greats almost always grew up with their subjects and carry with them no small amount of personal baggage and nostalgia. They just don’t cop to it. Brisbee does.

And he’s fair. He doesn’t deny the PED stuff or the Bonds-is-a-jerk stuff. It’s all in there. But so too is the dominance. And so too is what Bonds meant to young baseball fans — especially Giants fans — in the 1990s. Which is something that those who like to cast Bonds as a villain or cast him out entirely never mention. Mickey Mantle gets the “what he meant to people of a certain age in New York” consideration in all of his career retrospectives. Yaz gets the same stuff for Boston. But stars of the 1990s never get that. Probably because people who were kids in the 90s are just now starting to come into their own as baseball commentators, I guess.

Whatever the case, the by-now incredibly overwrought disparagement of guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and all of the others is not just a shame because of what it means for the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame because those doing so are erasing — or at least are trying to erase — baseball history. They are unfairly devaluing the baseball memories of a lot of people who grew up watching those players play. People who are not idiots and fully realize that many of the players took drugs and all of that. But people who don’t care, because they’re not fixated on the records and the nature and integrity of a player’s legacy like a sportswriter may be.

They care that the Giants didn’t move to Tampa in 1992. They care that they got to see an amazing player hit tremendous home runs and carry an entire team on his back for 15 years. That stuff matters, and it’s about time that the history of that stuff be written. Not just the tut-tutting of men who were too old and jaded to give a crap about it when it happened.

Not bad, New York Post. Not bad.

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I criticize the tabloids when they take dumb things seriously and treat serious things in a dumb manner. But sometimes they get the mix just right:

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I’d like a blowup of that Girardi face for future use. It’d be pretty sweet to have.

UPDATE: Got it!

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Justin Verlander to go to the disabled list for the first time in his career

Justin Verlander
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The Tigers just announced that Justin Verlander will start the season on the disabled list. The culprit: triceps strain which had originally been thought of as a “cramp.” They still don’t think it’s terribly serious, however, and they’re saying that he should be good to go for an April 12 start.

This is Verlander’s first-ever trip to the disabled list. Had to happen eventually, I guess.

2015 Preview: Is this the weakest AL East we’ve seen in years?

Buck Showalter
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A lot of people thought the 2014 AL East could be the weakest. They especially thought that after the first couple of months of the season when the Toronto Blue Jays sat atop the division and everyone else was sorta floundering. People suspected that the Jays were in for a correction — and that correction came thanks to both injuries and finding their true level — but no one else looked particularly strong. Some commentators were nearly certain that no team would even win 90 games.

The Orioles, however, soon began to pull away. The ended up with 96 wins and won the division by a dozen games while everyone else either struggled, reconfigured their rosters or both. Was it a strong division last season? Nah, not really. But at least one team came out of it looking good, and the streak in which the winner of the AL East had at least 95 wins under its belt reached its fourteenth straight year.

It’s hard to see that streak continuing this season. As our previews of the individual AL East teams demonstrate — here are the Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Jays, Rays — there is an argument for almost every team to either win the thing or crater badly.

The O’s look OK, but they’re counting on a lot of comebacks from players with injury histories. The Red Sox have pop, but the pitching is not scaring anyone. The Yankees have some famous and talented players who could experience a nice late-career resurgence, but betting on aging and injury-prone players is no safe bet at all. The Jays are starting a lot of rookies and lost their best starter for the year. The Rays lost their manager, GM and arguably their best player in the offseason and don’t gave the resources to reload as quickly as most teams do. Taken together, that’s a pretty darn mixed bag.

But I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing that everyone in the AL East has a big flaw or three. I mean, what has been everyone’s biggest complaint about the AL East for most of the past 20 years? That there were two teams — the Yankees and the Red Sox — who could field more talent and pay that talent more money than anyone else and that the Jays, O’s and Rays couldn’t break through. The Rays broke through, but that was often explained away as some function of Moneyball magic and years of high draft picks and, man, merely mediocre teams like Toronto and Baltimore had no shot.

Well, now everyone has a shot. And even if that means that we won’t necessarily see the most stellar brand of baseball being played at all times in this division, we should see some competitive races. So viva the “weak” AL East. Even if it’s the weakest it’s ever been.