Craig Calcaterra

Prince DP

Prince: 1958-2016


While I reference music I like here once in a while, I don’t go on and on about how certain artists are uniquely important to me or influential to me. Friends of mine who are themselves artists or musicians or for whom certain music plays a significant role in their lives understandably feel differently in that regard, but for the most part I’m just a music fan. I’m the sort of person whose life has only been truly influenced by musicians to a limited degree, even if I’ve enjoyed their work and listen to a wide variety of stuff.

Prince pushes the limits of that stance, however. Prince, his music, his image and his videos hit big at a perfect time in my life and it’s hard to overstate how much of a gateway drug he was for white suburban kids whose parents didn’t like cool stuff. To the extent a lot of dorks my age ever got into funk or soul or other black music in the early 80s, it was more likely that it came via Prince first. He snuck onto MTV with some radio-friendly rock hits and then fans could go backward in his catalog to some more funky things and then go along with him into the future for the more adventurous things he’d eventually do. Oh, and there was a LOT of sex which came with that whole package. Between him and Madonna, a whole generation of early MTV watchers were catapulted into late adolescence with a very sexy quickness.

I don’t care a lick if it Prince had nothing to do with baseball. His death today is one of the few times an artist’s death has truly knocked the wind out of me and made me think hard and deep about how important he was to me. Cobain. Bowie. Prince. So far that may be it.

But definitely Prince. Prince ruled.

If you need a baseball excuse, fine:




Bonds enjoying his new job as he returns to San Francisco

Miami Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds, looks from the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Friday, March 4, 2016, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)  MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
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MIAMI (AP) Barry Bonds bicycles across the Rickenbacker Causeway on his daily morning ride, Biscayne Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, a complicated past behind him.

Most of the time he looks ahead – to this weekend, for example. He’s heading for home.

Bonds will return to San Francisco for a three-game series, still wearing orange and black but now in a different role with a different team. The former Giants slugger will be in the visitors dugout as hitting coach for the Miami Marlins, and he doesn’t think it’s as strange as it sounds.

“It’s not going to feel strange,” Bonds said. “That’s my home. That will always be my home. I don’t feel strange at home.”

He’s making a second home in Miami, and all indications are he enjoys his new job. Every time a TV camera shows Bonds during a game, which is often, he seems to be grinning.

A snapshot moment: When leadoff hitter Dee Gordon ended a recent 16-pitch at-bat with a single, Bonds clapped, waved his fist and shouted, “Woo!” Gordon later came around to score, and Bonds greeted him with a gleeful hug.

“It’s nice to be back on the field,” Bonds said. “I like it a lot. It feels better on this side than when I was playing. I was always focused in on, `I’ve got to do the next job. I’ve got to go play defense.’ Now I get to be on this side and enjoy it. When I see something they are working so hard on, it’s exciting.”

Bonds was upbeat even though the Marlins are off to another dismal start and not hitting much for their new hitting coach. Justin Bour went into Thursday’s game batting .225, Giancarlo Stanton was at .224, J.T. Realmuto was at .205 and Marcell Ozuna was at .196.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Bonds said. “These guys are young players. You expect bumps in the road. That’s the whole challenge of it.”

Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker managed Bonds with the Giants, and they talked about the challenge of it during a series this week in Miami.

“It’s good for him to be back in baseball,” Baker said. “He seems like he’s having fun. This is as `feeling happy’ as I’ve seen him in a while.”

Bonds is back in the majors for the first time since his final season as a player in 2007, and he has readapted to the daily grind, while finding time for himself.

Sure, there will be titters on Twitter about how a steroids-tainted home run king is into cycling. But Bonds isn’t out to win when he heads off on one of his two performance bikes every morning around 7:30.

“I ride about two hours and watch all the young people beat me,” said Bonds, 51. “I’m making some good friends. I’d like to ride in a group, but it’s hard because of the times. They want to get out there at 6 o’clock. But I’m not getting out there at 6 o’clock after a night game.”

The bikes go on the road with him, and they’re going to San Francisco.

“I will ride my bike like I always do, over the bridge, over to Sausalito,” he said.

Sounds beautiful. But then the panoramic scene atop the Rickenbacker Causeway is breathtaking, too.

Which view is better? Bonds’ expression answered the question.

“That’s funny,” he said. “Not even worth commenting on.”

San Francisco is still home.

Freelancer Walter Villa in Miami contributed to this report.

Marlins, Pirates players are worried about the Zika virus for upcoming Puerto Rico games

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Even before the Zika virus reached crisis levels early this year, Brazil had trouble maintaining routine eradication efforts. An Associated Press investigation found that cities and states in Brazil’s northeast ran out of larvicide for several months last year. The Aedes aegypti mosquito are a vector for the spread of Zika virus. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates are scheduled to play two games in Puerto Rico at the end of May. And now players from both teams are concerned about the Zika virus.

The virus, which can be transmitted via mosquitos, has not been transmitted in that fashion in the continental U.S., but there have been nearly 450 confirmed Zika cases contracted in Puerto Rico. The continental U.S. cases — over 350 of them — have all been tied to people traveling to places where there are outbreaks, such as Puerto Rico.

MLB and the union are talking with the players and are looking at Centers for Disease Control guidelines about how to ensure player safety and the prevention of birth defects to any children of players who may become affected. That includes guidelines about abstaining from reproductive sex for up to six months. But that’s obviously not the greatest comfort to some of the players:

“We recognize the importance of the trip,” Marlins pitcher Craig Breslow said. “But at the same time, our health and the health of our families is paramount. There are guys who are uncomfortable engaging in the lifestyle changes being recommended by the CDC,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s fair to ask of 20- to 30-year-old men who are potentially looking to start families or expand families.”

As of now, officials with Major League Baseball, the Marlins and Pirates expect the games to be played as scheduled May 30-31.