Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Curt Schilling loves a t-shirt threatening violence to reporters

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Curt Schilling is on the Hall of Fame ballot and, to gain admittance to Cooperstown, he needs 75% of the electorate to vote him in. The problem (a) the electorate consists of journalists; and (b) Schilling seems to think the idea of murdering journalists is hilarious.

This all arose out of a t-shirt seen at a Donald Trump rally in Minnesota over the weekend with the words “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required” printed on it. If you’ve looked under some of the uglier rocks in the great garden that is the Donald Trump movement this past year, it isn’t terribly surprising to see so ugly a sentiment expressed. Among a certain subset of Trump folks, there is a conviction that the media is the America’s greatest enemy and that anything remotely negative that can be said of Donald Trump is, in reality, a coordinated media conspiracy designed to sink his candidacy. Journalists have been harassed and even attacked at his rallies and have been stalked online by Trump supporters.

Enter Schilling, who thinks the idea of lynching reporters is just grand:

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Later, when he was assailed by scores of people, including several members of the media, many of whom have been sympathetic to Schilling in the past, he claimed he was being sarcastic, and that it was merely a “smart ass” t-shirt. Of course, Schilling has often claimed he was joking or being sarcastic when saying truly vile things, despite the fact that there is no evidence of sarcasm to his comments whatsoever. Schilling, ever the brave soul, has since deleted the tweet.

Most people have used this little episode to mock Schilling. Retired pitcher Dan Haren’s mockery was particularly savage:

It’s an understandable impulse to mock him, as there are always a million jokes to be made at Schilling’s expense because he has turned himself into a clown. But it’s probably worth noting that three-dozen journalists have been killed this year as a direct result of sentiments like the one Schilling is applauding or, at the very least, joking about. In 2015 six dozen were murdered. To Schilling, the notion of promoting the killing of journalists is, at the absolute best, assuming you buy his sarcasm defense, a “smart ass” sentiment.

One wonders how many other atrocities he finds amusing t-shirt fodder. One also wonders how the journalists with whom Schilling-the-broadcaster was nominally a colleague until last year, feel about his “sarcasm.” One further wonders how those nominal colleagues who have Hall of Fame votes will treat his candidacy going forward.

Stick to sports? Never.

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You’ve heard me go on and on about not sticking to sports for years. Sorry, never will.

While I will not go completely off the rails and start posting stuff about housing policy, campaign finance reform or political things that have no connection to baseball at all, I will refuse to pretend that the real world does not exist and that it does not touch upon baseball — and that baseball does not touch upon the real world — almost constantly. When the real world does intersect with baseball I will write about it. I always have, going back to the first baseball website I wrote for beginning 15 years ago.

It’s also worth noting that, to claim that baseball is a safe space where all of the real things which impact real people in real ways don’t exist is itself a political position. It’s a rejectionist one, in which the concerns of others who do care about things like, say, public financing of stadiums, racism, sexism, economic inequality, labor matters and the like are dismissed. You do not have to engage in such conversations or even pay attention to them in order to be a sports fan, but you have no right to tell others that it is illegitimate for them to do so. Or that their sports fandom is somehow lesser than yours because they do.

Today at the Columbia Journalism Review, Tony Rehagen takes up the subject of sports writers who do not stick to sports. I was interviewed for the piece and quoted extensively, as was Rob Neyer, Bob Ryan and Sarah Spain. The tweets of others like Jemele Hill and Richard Dietsch are included as well. The piece does a good job of explaining where folks like me are coming from.

Too soon? Here are the odds for the 2017 baseball season

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I posted this list to Twitter with the obligatory “too soon?” disclaimer, figuring that everyone would be in no kind of head space to be thinking about the next baseball season when this last one had just ended hours ago. Shows you what I know: more people responded to it than most of the stuff I tweeted about the World Series.

I suppose that’s a good reminder that, no matter how many people got into the World Series, baseball is still a local game. For 20 teams’ fan bases, the season has been over for a month and all that has gone on hasn’t mattered a lick. For all but two it’s been a good week since they cared about anything.

There is no offseason in baseball. And there is always next year.

Here are the odds for the 2017 season, courtesy of Bovada:

Odds to win the 2017 World Series

Chicago Cubs                           7/2
Boston Red Sox                       9/1
Los Angeles Dodgers                9/1
Washington Nationals                12/1
Cleveland Indians                      14/1
New York Mets                          14/1
San Francisco Giants                14/1
Toronto Blue Jays                     14/1
Houston Astros                         16/1
Texas Rangers                          16/1
Baltimore Orioles                       22/1
Detroit Tigers                            22/1
St. Louis Cardinals                    22/1
New York Yankees                    25/1
Seattle Mariners                        25/1
Pittsburgh Pirates                      28/1
Kansas City Royals                   33/1
Chicago White Sox                    40/1
Miami Marlins                            40/1
Los Angeles Angels                  50/1
Colorado Rockies                     66/1
Tampa Bay Rays                       66/1
Milwaukee Brewers                    75/1
Oakland Athletics                      75/1
Arizona Diamondbacks              100/1
Atlanta Braves                           100/1
Cincinnati Reds                         100/1
Minnesota Twins                        100/1
Philadelphia Phillies                   100/1
San Diego Padres                     100/1