Author: Craig Calcaterra

Clayton Kershaw

“Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters”


That headline is actually taken verbatim from the BBWAA MVP ballot and, I would hope anyway, will prevent us from having arguments today about whether or not Clayton Kershaw can or should win the MVP Award.

I suppose “should” is more debatable. One need not be crazy in order to conclude that, say, Andrew McCutchen was more valuable than Kershaw. On some level it’s a judgment call — maybe even a value judgment call — and there are enough factors in play and apples and oranges to where one could quite rationally say Kershaw isn’t the MVP. It’s not like the AL Rookie of the Year Award where there was one obvious choice.

But it will be worth watching the voting tonight to see if someone pulls a Jim Ingrahm. He, you may recall, was the MVP voter who left Justin Verlander clean off the MVP ballot in 2011. Not because he didn’t think Verlander was one of the ten best players in the American League that year but because he decided that the clear rule about pitchers being eligible was wrong and thus he chose to ignore it. This also, famously, happened in 1999 with Pedro Martinez. In that case, however, two voters leaving Martinez totally off the ballot cost him the MVP. People left Bob Gibson off in 1968 too. It has happened a lot, actually.

If you avoid Ingrahmizing all of this and just go on the merits, I lean toward Kershaw. A position player is more valuable, as a basic proposition, than a starting pitcher, yes. And I’m not 100% taken with that argument which has gained popularity in recent years about how a starter faces more batters than a batter has plate appearances in a year. That’s true and it is illuminating, but a pitcher also has eight defenders behind him, so it’s not like it’s a 1:1 comparison. It’s way, way better than saying “Jeez, a starter only plays in 30 games!” but it doesn’t get you all the way home.

It gets you a lot of the way there, though. And Kershaw’s sheer dominance gets you the rest of the way in my personal opinion. I’m not the sort who reduces it to WAR because I’m out of my element with that and aware that, on a single season basis and when you’re comparing pitchers and hitters, that doesn’t help you. I am leaning an awful lot on the idea that nearly every time Kershaw pitched this year, he was head and shoulders better than his competition in ways no one else was. That, combined with his across-the-board dominance in terms of numbers makes him feel like the MVP to me.

So Curt Schilling spent his evening arguing against the theory of evolution


We’ve read all of the stories about Curt Schillng’s recovery from cancer and other attendant maladies. And they have been uplifting and encouraging. But maybe the most uplifting and encouraging evidence of Schilling’s recovery came last night when we learned that, finally, he is back to his old self, 100%.

How do we know this? Because he spent the night being bullheaded and annoying on the Internet.

You see, Schilling spent a great deal of time on Twitter last night arguing against the Theory of Evolution. Deadspin summarizes it here, but you can go to Twitter and see it in real time too. It’s quite a thing.

The main thrust of his argument were the old chestnuts about their being gaps in the fossil record and no real time evidence of evolution that we, as lay persons, have witnessed. No fossil of, say, a fish with legs like that “Darwin” sticker people put on the back of their Subarus. And no ape born in, like, the 1970s, which spontaneously turned into a human in 1986 or whatever. I didn’t see the entirety of his interactions with his followers, but I do hope at least one of them sent him a link explaining why that is pure, uncut and unadulterated hooey.

It used to always irk me when someone carried on like this. And yes, part of me is still a tad troubled by the fact that a guy who is paid to be an analyst has demonstrated a tendency to espouse his gut-held beliefs rather than actually deal with the evidence available that better-explains a phenomenon. I presume next year Schilling will be in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball and I wouldn’t bet even a nickel on him not arguing in favor of some unprovable folk wisdom about hitting or pitching rather than actually breaking down what happened objectively.

But for the most part I just smile at this sort of thing. The beauty of science, it has been said, is that it does not require that one believe in it to be true. Not even Curt Schilling, who is free to believe what he wants to believe, even if it’s wrong on just about every possible level. And even if that which he disbelieves played a crucial role in his ability to be here today disbelieving it.

Because if he’s doing that, man, we KNOW the old Curt Schilling is back. And however annoying that may be in the moment, I sleep better at night knowing that he is out there, somewhere, driving people absolutely nuts.

The defamation case against Roger Clemens is still going on

Roger Clemens

Former trainer Brian McNamee sued Roger Clemens for defamation in December 2008. He did out of sheer defense. He had been pressured into cooperating with the Mitchell Report people and told them that Roger Clemens, and others, had taken PEDs he supplied. Rather than let it all die down, Clemens came out with both barrels blazing in a silly, self-defeating P.R. offensive in which, among many other things, Clemens sued McNamee for defamation. McNamee’s suit came next, and probably wouldn’t have been filed if Clemens hadn’t filed his.

That whole series of events put Clemens in front of Congress and eventually landed him in the role of criminal defendant. That’s all in the past now, but the lawsuit, somehow, still lingers on. The New York Times reports today that Clemens was recently deposed in the case. It has his whole transcript there. The upshot: Clemens still maintains that he never took PEDs.

This all seems like the stuff of ancient history. Frankly, given how McNamee has consistently (and quite convincingly) portrayed as destitute, Clemens made over $150 million playing baseball and the existence of this suit does no good for him at all, I’m shocked Clemens hasn’t thrown a small-for-him but life-changing-for-McNamee amount of money at McNamee and made it all go away. And not just because of the nuisance of it all. Even if a celebrity wins a defamation case, their reputation normally suffers as a result of its continued existence, be it as a plaintiff or a defendant.

But that’s just not how Clemens rolls. I’ve been writing about this case for nearly six years now, and not much has happened to change my opinion about him in all of this. Here’s what I said about it back then:

. . . he would be well-advised to cut his losses and quit now. He’s Roger Clemens though, so he’ll probably just rub some Icy Hot somewhere, bark at his lawyers and continue fighting on. We need people like that in this country — you never know when we may be invaded by the Martians or something — but it won’t be a good thing for him personally.

Still pretty much holds.

Why is the Victor Martinez signing good? Because the Detroit Tigers are the Bluesmobile

Blues Mobile

Some may suggest that the four-year deal that the Tigers are reported to be giving the 36-year-old Victor Martinez is excessive for a team that already has a great number of big contracts. To that I say: nah, it’s cool. Why? Because the Tigers, as currently constructed, are the Blues Brothers’ 1974 Dodge Monaco.

They may be close to falling apart, but they haven’t fallen apart just yet. Indeed, they still haul ass with that 440 Magnum engine, cop tires, cop suspension and cop shocks. They’re a model made before catalytic converters so they’ll run good on regular gas. They just won the AL Central again and look to be in good shape to win it again in 2015, even if they lose Max Scherzer. When you got a car like that you drive it until it literally falls apart. Which could come at any second, but man it’s gonna move until that time comes, so don’t stop, whatever you do.

The reality for this team is that 2015 is all that matters. And if they do well then, well, get to 2016. Worrying about 2018 with players as old as the Tigers have and with contracts as big as they have and with an owner who is, like, 90 years old, richer than Croesus and just wants to win is rather silly.

Some people mentioned the current state of the Philadelphia Phillies to me when I voiced this opinion on Twitter a bit ago. Which, yes, is something you really don’t want to become if you can help it. But the Tigers, right now, are where the 2011 Phillies were. They are still winning. They are getting older, but there is no reason to break things up yet, because they look well-positioned for 2015. The Phillies, however, did nothing after things went south in 2012. Then they continued to do nothing after things stayed bad in 2013. Then, as 2014 wore on and things were worse than they ever were, they still did, yep, you guessed it, nothing. Only now are they talking about rebuilding. And it still hasn’t started.

If the Tigers had, like the post-2012 Phillies, just experienced a year in which they finally cratered under the weight of old players and nonetheless reloaded as if the bad year hadn’t happened and happy times were still here, sure, slam them. But that’s not where they are. It may get really ugly in Motown in 2017 — no matter what they did with Martinez, their future cake was baked some time ago — but it’s not ugly yet.

For now the Bluesmobile is still holding together, so the Tigers are wise to put the pedal to the metal and hope they make it to Daley Center.

The Rays may soon be allowed to look for a new stadium site outside of St. Petersburg

Rays logo

The Rays’ lease with St. Petersburg goes until 2027 and prohibits them from looking at new stadium sites outside of St. Pete. That may soon change, however, as the Tampa Bay Times reports that the team and the city may soon reach an agreement allowing the Rays to look in Hillsborough County — that’s Tampa — at potential sites. Part of this deal may also include the terms of a buyout of the St. Pete lease if and when the Rays want to move.

In the past, the previous mayor of St. Petersburg was staunchly against allowing the Rays to do anything like this. The new mayor is being more pragmatic, yet still desires that the Rays build a new ballpark in St. Pete. Short of that, he is of the view that the Rays aren’t likely to find a good site let alone anyone willing to help them pay for a new park in Tampa. His view seems to be “Go ahead and look all you want. You’ll be back, though.”

Still, this is more than the Rays have had for a while. And the idea that the city is willing to talk buyout could, eventually, pave the way for the Rays to move anyplace, be it Tampa or another city altogether.