Craig Calcaterra

Obama First Pitch

President Obama will attend the Rays exhibition game in Cuba


Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Cuban National Team in Havana was made official. The game will take place on March 22 at Estadio Latinoamericano and will be televised on ESPN.

Last night it was announced that a VIP fan will be in attendance: President Obama.

The White House released a statement regarding the nation’s most powerful White Sox fan’s attendance at the game:

“Americans and Cubans share a love of baseball, and this is yet another powerful reminder of the kinship between our peoples as well as the progress we can achieve when we leverage those natural ties.”

In other news, between excited Cuban baseball fans, dignitaries, the press corps and President Obama’s secret service detail, this will likely be the most heavily-attended Rays game since the 2008 World Series.

Curt Schilling says Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere”

Curt Schilling

I hope you enjoyed the Super Tuesday results. And by “enjoyed” I mean “survived without succumbing to the urge to tear out your insides” and/or “spent four hours researching emigration laws in-depth.” I have no idea who is going to win this bad boy come November but I do know that, whoever it is, time travelers coming here from 20-30 years ago are gonna step out of their machine, take one good look around and then immediately go back to the time before they were born and make sure their parents never meet. And we will all envy them.

I guess what I’m saying is that, for a guy who knows a little bit about politics, I’m pretty darn confused by the 2016 election. Thank goodness, then, that we have astute political commentators offering their insights on the airwaves. Including the sports airwaves, like 610 AM in Kansas City, which hosted ESPN analyst and should-be Hall of Famer Curt Schilling yesterday. As usual, Schilling set us all straight on how the presidential race should turn out:

The host asked if Schilling thinks Hillary Clinton will go to prison. “I hope she does,” said Schilling. “If I’m gonna believe, and I don’t have any reason not to believe, that she gave classified information on hundreds if not thousands of emails on a public server after what happened to General Petraeus, she should buried under a jail somewhere.”

If one were less respectful of Schilling one might note that he and Hillary Clinton (a) have both done things for which many have called for their prosecution; (b) have both been investigated by the government in an extensive manner; and (c) have both been determined to not have broken any laws and/or have been worth prosecuting and thus should probably be free to go about their daily lives, but I would never point that out because, hey, Schilling was an amazing pitcher and I have too much respect for him.

Also, if you think Schilling was just being partisan, know that he went after candidates from both parties. Specifically, “Schilling criticized Trump for failing to elaborate on his proposals with depth.” Which suggests that, sure, he’s open to crazy, unworkable ideas fueled by rage, delusion and racial and ethnic resentment, he just needs to know how we’ll pay for them. That’s just sensible.

Anyway, glad to see that even now, so many years after his retirement, Curt Schilling still has his fastball.

Aroldis Chapman suspended 30 games under the domestic violence policy

New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws a ball during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Associated Press

Major League Baseball has suspended Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman for 30 games for violation of the league’s domestic violence policy. The suspension will begin at the start of the regular season. He will be allowed to continue to train with the Yankees during spring training. While Chapman had previously said he would appeal any suspension, he has changed his mind and has agreed not to do so.

The length of the suspension — 30 games — will be hotly debated by many. Some may say that domestic violence is more serious than, say, performance-enhancing drugs, thereby justifying a stiffer penalty. Some may counter that an off-the-field transgression should not be punished as harshly as an on-the-field transgression. There will also be room for arguing that, while this suspension is 30 games, Major League Baseball is not limited from going higher in cases which it deems to be more serious than this one. And, of course, there will be debate about “seriousness” as well.

No matter where you fall on that, the facts as we know them are serious and they are this: Chapman was alleged to have pushed and choked his girlfriend in his home on October 30 before firing off at least eight gunshots in his garage. He was not arrested on that night and no charges were filed. Major League Baseball, however, has made it clear that their new domestic violence policy sets forth a higher standard than that set by law enforcement thereby allowing it to impose discipline arising out of domestic violence situations even if the player is not charged with a crime.

Another implication of a 30-game suspension: Chapman will not be suspended for so long as to prevent him from reaching free agency this year based on accrued service time. If the suspension had been in excess of 45 games he’d be under team control for one more year. Had that occurred it almost certainly would’ve resulted in an appeal from Chapman that would likely have the effect of undermining MLB’s desire to appear decisive in this case. It’s hard to imagine that such considerations were not taken into account when the penalty was decided. Indeed, this has the air of a negotiated or plea-bargained penalty, designed to make this as neat and tidy as it could be under the circumstances. For better or for worse.

Whatever you think of it, this was Major League Baseball’s first-ever suspension under its new policy. From here on out, Chapman’s 30 games will be a baseline against which all other penalties are measured.

Commissioner Rob Manfred offered the following statement:

“I asked my staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident involving Aroldis Chapman on October 30, 2015.  Much of the information regarding the incident has been made public through documents released by law enforcement.  Mr. Chapman submitted to an in-person interview with counsel present.  After reviewing the staff report, I found Mr. Chapman’s acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated Policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner.  I am gratified that Mr. Chapman has taken responsibility for his conduct, that he has agreed not to appeal the 30-game suspension, and that he has agreed to comply with the confidential directives of the Joint Policy Board established under the parties’ Policy to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.”

Aroldis Chapman’s statement soon followed:

Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015.  I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening.  However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry.  The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration.  I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family.  I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.