Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Two Rockies cover first base, neither records an out


Most of the time the first baseman covers first base. Sometimes the pitcher covers first base. Sometimes a second baseman wheels over and covers first base. Baseball is complicated like that.

Too much coverage can be a bad thing, however. Just ask the Colorado Rockies who, on a play against the Dodgers last night, had two guys covering first base at the same time on a bunt. Unfortunately Nolan Arenado, who fielded the ball, threw to the one whose foot was not on the bag. Which, I suppose, causes one to ask whether first base was truly being covered by two people. That’s sort of metaphysical at some point, though. It gets complicated.

Point is, the runner was safe. Listen to Vin on the call:


Minnesota columnist outraged the Twins enjoyed themselves after a victory

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The Twins stink. This is not exactly a state secret. But even bad teams win sometimes and when they win they’re allowed to be happy. Unless, of course, they play in Minnesota, where according to one columnist there is no fun allowed.

The columnist is Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune and he is outraged that the Twins celebrated a victory the other night:

It was understandable the Twins celebrated Tuesday’s winning home run by greeting Dozier wildly at home plate, sending a bat boy to dump water over Dozier’s head during a postgame interview, and holding a smoke-filled dance party in the clubhouse.

It was understandable because this team and this organization appear to have lost all shame in the misery of a season that has captured huge momentum to stand as the most-disgusting in the 56 the Twins have played in Minnesota

That’s what Reusse uses as a launching pad into his assessment of a bad Twins team and organization. Which, as far as it goes, is fair to criticize. They have performed poorly and there are serious questions about whether there needs to be an organizational overhaul. That sort of thing is the stuff of sober analysis, though, not the stuff of comical shaming and bile that Reusse offers here.

He demands that everyone in the organization be “embarrassed” at their “pathetic” performance. He says fans are “outraged” and that “anger is not a strong enough description of the fans’ reaction. It is hostility.” He refers to 14-year-old transactions (i.e. letting David Ortiz go) as “wounds.” It’s a drama queen act so overheated I had to check to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody.

He also offers up some pretty questionable crap. Like saying, “there is nothing more damaging to the Twins’ future than the ongoing difficulty in getting extra-talented players from the Caribbean to become fully invested in reaching stardom.” There’s a lot to unpack there. It comes in a familiar suitcase, though, in which Latino players are seen as unmotivated as a basic proposition, which is some pretty ugly stuff in which I had assumed major paper columnists had stopped trafficking. Guess not.

He’s also chapped that minor league pitcher Kohl Stewart, isn’t a star. I can’t say I’m super high on Kohl Stewart either, but what a curious take it is to offer a high school pitcher drafted in 2013 as an example of a broken player development system. Oh, and near the end he complains about the high price of concessions at Target Field, which is about as transparent and cliche a beef as it comes. But rest assured, citizens of Minnesota, Patrick Reusse is your protector.

Or maybe the citizens of Minnesota don’t need a protector. Maybe they aren’t as emotionally invested in a baseball team as Reusse thinks they should be. I’m sure some are, and that they’re the small, loud handful which call in to his radio show, but I’d guess most Twins fans have challenges and concerns that anger and outrage them far more than an underachieving baseball team does. That, contrary to what sports yakkers like Reusse think, they realize that sports are not real life and most people have a better perspective on that than those who are paid to rile people up and spit hot fire a few times a week.

Reusse and his ilk are the tail that wags the dog. They’ve been so for decades, pretending that their anger, real or put-on, is the true voice of sports fandom. There’s a silent majority out there, however, that doesn’t think like this. Men, women and children who enjoy a game and prefer a win but who don’t expect the self-flagellation from athletes Reusse demands and who aren’t as self-entitled as Reusse would have them be. We’ve accepted such fictions as fact from a self-important sports media for far too long. We should stop accepting it.

David Ortiz on his time with the Twins: “people didn’t know who the hell we were”

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The Red Sox go to Minnesota to play the Twins this weekend. That brings David Ortiz back to the city where his major league career began. This being the summer of his farewell tour, he spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA Today about his time in Minnesota. Of particular note is his take on how fans in the Twin Cities welcomed their local nine:

“What was funny is that when I played in Minnesota, they didn’t even know they had a major-league baseball team. I used to walk around the street and people didn’t know who the hell we were. Nobody used to come to the Metrodome to watch games. Going to the Metrodome to watch a game was like sacrificing one of your kids.”

In Ortiz’s last year in Minnesota the Twins won 94 games and drew 1.9 million fans. Not totally overwhelming — it was 9th in the AL and 20th in all of baseball — but arguably respectable for a team that played in a dispiriting dome. It was an improvement of a couple hundred thousand from the year before, when the club won 85 games, and they would bump their attendance up a tad the year after as well. They outdrew Philly, Detroit and Toronto. Which, no, wasn’t hard at the time, but which is not nothing.

Maybe people just didn’t know who Ortiz was. 2002 was his high water mark in Minnesota and he still wasn’t exactly one of the big stars of the club. Torii Hunter, Jacques Jones, Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, Johan Santana and even dudes like Rick Reed were arguably higher profile Twins of the time. In the five years before that Ortiz only played 100 games once. In 2016 David Ortiz can’t walk on a sidewalk within 100 miles of Boston without being mobbed, but it’s not hard at all to imagine him walking down the main drag in Minneapolis in 2000 without anyone turning their head.

Boston is definitely a place that loves its pro athletes and Ortiz is the most famous pro athlete in that city. Has been for years. I feel like that — or maybe simply the passage of time — may be skewing his take on how a place like Minnesota is supposed to treat ballplayers of a given caliber at a given time. They’re OK fans. They have a dumb fixation on Joe Mauer for whatever reason — and the columnists there have a habit of whining like children — but it’s not too different than most other big league cities.