Craig Calcaterra

Wrigley Field

The Cubs like their new clubhouse

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One of the many aspects of the Cubs’ Renaissance are the renovations being made to Wrigley Field.

Always a cool place in a general sense given its history and the big picture aesthetic of it, Wrigley, however, was sort of falling apart. It was also falling behind in terms of the facilities and comforts for its players, most notably its clubhouse, which was closer to an old-school locker room than it was a modern home-away-from-home which is what major league clubhouses have become.

The renovation has fixed that and tonight, for their home opener against the Reds, Cubs players are getting to enjoy the new digs:

 

David Ross is lovin’ it:

 

 

Miguel Sano got tossed after arguing a HORRIBLE strike call

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.11.22 AM
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The Twins lost another demoralizing game yesterday, and at one point frustration got to their young star, Miguel Sano. That came in the seventh inning when he was called out looking by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. You can watch the video of it here.

Watching that video makes you realize that Sano was justifiably frustrated. The ball was way outside. But don’t rely on your own eyes for it. Check out the plot of the pitch:

Horrible, horrible call.

Which, fine, horrible calls happen. But this little episode grates for a few reasons. One of which is Hirschbeck’s reaction to Sano taking issue with the strike zone. Maybe a hitter isn’t supposed to argue balls and strikes, but an umpire certainly isn’t supposed to take it personally. Ideally, the ump is stoic in such instances and ejects the player if he crosses that line but ultimately doesn’t mix it up himself. Reading the lips of the ump here and seeing his demeanor, you can tell that he’s not doing anything to lower the heat of the conversation. Which, as a judge, not a combatant, he should be doing. He doesn’t answer to Sano and doesn’t have to respond. Major League Baseball should require that umps be above that.

Also annoying is the reaction to at least one observer:

I don’t know why we should just idly accept that umps, after doing a crap job, are justified in later holding it against people who note that, hey, they did a crap job. Why the lesson here is “young player should shut up and bear it” as opposed to “umpire should do better and not react in a petty fashion when he feels his authoritah is not being respected” is beyond me.

I know what people will say. “Hey, that’s baseball. You know how that goes.” Yes, I do. But just because that’s how it has historically gone doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.

The Cardinals have the most loyal fans, Mariners the least

St. Louis Cardinals fans
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Nothing riles up fans more than other fans shaming them for not being good, loyal fans. Or for people to claim that they have some special monopoly on being good fans. But given that riling people up is part of our #Brand here at HBT, we usually pass on the results of that annual survey which purports to measure such things.

Brand Keys, a consulting firm or marketing firm or something, puts the list together by somehow measuring the “four emotional drivers” of fan loyalty, which are (1) Pure Entertainment; (2) Authenticity; (3) Fan Bonding; and (4) History and tradition. These are mixed in a pot with things like overall league and team rankings, viewership and merchandise sales and then this comes out like so. So basically, there’s no way to dispute their findings. We can just argue about them.

Top 5 Teams for the most loyal fans this year, with last year’s rankings in parentheses:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (#1)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (#3)
3. San Francisco Giants (#2)
4 Detroit Tigers (#4)
5. Washington Nationals (#5)

The bottom five with last year’s rankings in parenthesis:

30. Seattle Mariners (#25)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (#29)
28. Colorado Rockies (#28)
27. San Diego Padres (#24)
26. Houston Astros (#30)

Worth noting that the Phillies led the list for “most loyal” on Opening Day 2011, which I think was probably the height of Philly fan enthusiasm. I don’t think enthusiasm and loyalty is the same thing, though. Most Philly fans I know are still loyal to their team. They’re just realistic that they suck. Same in reverse for the Mets, who used to — heck, maybe still do — have a singularly neurotic and pessimistic fan base but no one can doubt their loyalty. Indeed, if you’re not loyal you don’t allow yourself to be emotionally connected to the bad stuff enough to let it bother you. That makes the “fan bonding” and “entertainment” parts of this thing suspect. You can be a loyal fan even if your team has been hostile to you and is more misery inducing than entertaining.

And of course, all of this assumes that “loyalty” is an unequivocally great thing anyway. You don’t get a reserved spot in heaven, get your karma reduced or get holes punched in some sort of cosmic rewards card just for being loyal to your team. I know the whole Sports is Everything Industrial Complex has convinced people that loyalty is everything, but it’s actually pretty silly.

If you’re the sort of fan who watches the sports team you like up to the point they entertain you and make it worth your time and then tune out when the balance is off you’re not a better or worse person. If you put yourself through the ringer for them, no matter the situation, you’re neither of those things either. Let sports be your thing in your own way and don’t listen to people who would tell you different.