<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Cuba

“Baseball love, Cuban style”

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Here’s a colorful slice of Cuban baseball life from Michael Powell of the New York Times. No real narrative or story. Just an afternoon watching people playing baseball in an environment very, very different from that which you and I are likely used to. It’s a good read.

Everyone talks about how the thawing of Cuban relations is going to bring more big Cuban baseball stars to the United States. It’ll be just as interesting, and probably more significant, to see how it changes the lives of everyday Cubans and Americans.

Wanna buy John Lackey’s House?

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John Lackey made between $15 million and and $18 million a year for the past several seasons. This year, because of a weird team option, he’ll make the major league minimum salary. Which I do not assume is the reason for his real estate downsizing, but let’s pretend it is anyway. This is what he’s unloading:

source:

You can see the rest of the pictures and the listing for this Fort Worth, Texas home here. It’s . . . not a subtle place. Really, I can’t imagine how anyone lives in a house like this. Or what inspires anyone to. Even if you have a gajillion dollars in the bank.

It’s over 10,000 square feet. It has three different living rooms on the ground floor alone and four fireplaces. It has an eight car garage. It has a pool area which is insane but, because Fort Worth gets cold in the winter and Lackey works out of town between February and October, one wonders if he’s ever used it. Maybe on a road trip to play the Rangers? During the All-Star break?

To each his own, I suppose. But how does one get comfy in a house like that? Which living room do you hunker down in to watch a movie? And how far is it to go to get a refill on your drink?

In which someone describes A-Rod, B.J. Upton and Ryan Howard as potential offensive options for a team

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Got an albatross hanging around your neck, GMs? Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculates that if everything goes just right — or just wrong, depending on your point of view — maybe the Rays will help you out.

After listing any number of available outfielders who could possibly help the Rays, Topkin drops this:

Another scenario is to wait and see which team blinks first and eats almost all the bad-contract money on a distressed veteran such as Ryan Howard, ex-Ray B.J. Upton or, dare we say it, Alex Rodriguez.

If I found a genie in a bottle, the first wish would be for health and happiness for my family, the second would be for a billion dollars but the third would almost certainly be the Rays picking up Ryan Howard, B.J. Upton and Alex Rodriguez and winning the dang World Series.

George Steinbrenner’s foundation will pay for the education of the children of the slain NYPD officer

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One of the two NYPD officers killed yesterday — Rafael Ramos — had children. One is 13, the other in college. The Silver Shield Foundation, founded by late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, will pay for their educations.

This is not some emotional reaction to yesterday’s terrible news, of course. It is the very mission of the Silver Shield Foundation, which was set up by Steinbrenner over 30 years ago. Since it began, the organization has paid for the education of over 800 children of fallen police officers and firefighters. You can read more about the foundation here.

It’s a shame such a foundation has to exist in the first place and that it has been as busy as it has been in its 32-year existence. But thanks to George Steinbrenner and the men and women who run it, the Silver Shield Foundation has been able to help the families of those killed in the line of duty to at least begin to pick up the pieces and carry on.

The Padres have talked to the Phillies about Cole Hamels

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On Friday I just assumed that the Phillies would engage the Padres in talks about trading Cole Hamels. What with San Diego acquiring every player who isn’t nailed down, their ability to do that without yet giving up their top prospects in a trade, the Phillies’ desire to move Hamels and, finally, because Hamels is from San Diego and his no-trade list does not include the Padres.

It has apparently gone from mere speculation to actual talk: Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News reports that the Padres have had discussions with the Phillies regarding their ace lefty. Any deal would likely revolve around a position player prospect, as the Phillies have very few of those. Lawrence suggests that the newly-acquired Wil Myers could fit the bill. Yes, the Padres just got him, but they have a glut of outfielders at the moment and Myers is not a likely candidate to be a good center fielder, even if the Padres are suggesting he might be. Flipping him and something else for Hamels makes sense for everyone.