Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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“¡Qué horror!” Wil Myers prefers East Coast Mexican Food to West Coast Mexican Food


SAN DIEGO — Today, during the NL All-Star media press availability, San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers said that East Coast Mexican food is better than West Coast Mexican food. Repeat: a man who lives at least half the year in San Diego, Frickin’ California, said that he did not prefer the Mexican food from San Diego Frickin’ California.

As I have written recently, it is important to like what you like and not care about what the mob thinks. Some people have preferences that are not in keeping with the majority. This — and not being cowed into some sort of mob orthodoxy — is generally a good thing. Also, it’s worth noting that Mexican food is not some strange and exotic thing in the United States in 2016. You can go to literally any city in the country and find some really good Mexican food. Heck, even most small towns have a good Mexican place or two. It’s pretty ubiquitous.

But dudes: Mexican food in San Diego is REALLY, REALLY good. And, even if Myers is going to march to the beat of his own culinary drummer, which he certainly should, he has to realize that the people in his professional home town have, you know, some pretty strong feelings about that, right?

As luck would have it, I was pretty hungry as I left the press session early this afternoon. As luck would also have it, Pokez, a Mexican restaurant that came highly recommended to me, is right across the street from my hotel. Watching the Wil Myers stuff bubble up on Twitter sealed it: I had to go in. I ordered a number 2 combo, which was a chicken taco, a bean tostada and a cheese enchilada:


It was fantastic. Really, and this is no hyperbole, it was one of the best Mexican meals I’ve ever had. Maybe that’s not a super high bar for a dude from the Midwest, but I’ve been in California and Texas enough to where I think it’d still rate even for people who know better than me. I’d hope that Myers, who has been with the Padres since December 2014, would be able to appreciate it.

For what it’s worth, I relayed Myers’ views to a couple of the people in Pokez at the time. One was Gus, who works there and who owns some pretty amazingly fashionable glasses if I must say so myself:


That’s Gus’ “not impressed” face. When I told him that Myers preferred east coast Mexican, he said “He knows we’re right next to the border, right?” Then he shook his head.

Mark Pearson, a native San Diegan, was less diplomatic:


“I believe he’s lost his NOODLE,” Pearson said. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe Myers thinks Mexican food is supposed to have noodles in it or something. Maybe he thought the reporter said “Italian” or something. That would certainly explain it a bit better.

I don’t know. The Padres have a pretty good P.R. team. They’ve no doubt trained their players to be good citizens and ambassadors for the community. And then Wil Myers comes right out and says that the Mexican food in North Carolina or wherever is better than what he can get at Pokez, five blocks from Petco Park. It’s enough to make a P.R. person quit their job and go back to law school.

In other news, this is the combo menu from Pokez. I asked the waiter what number 13 was, and he said “whatever the chef feels like giving you”:


Tip to Wil Myers: don’t order the number 13 if you go to Pokez. Really, just don’t do it.

Derek Jeter got married


Sorry, America. Your favorite bachelor is no longer eligible. Derek Jeter married his longtime girlfriend, Hannah Davis. Congrat2lation2, you 2.

TMZ has photos of the ceremony, which took place at the Meadowood resort in Napa Valley. The New York Post says former Yankee teammates Jorge Posada, Andruw Jones and Tino Martinez were in attendance.

No word on which of them caught the garter. I hope it was Jorge. If the catcher caught it I could maybe spin another post out of this fluff piece. Or maybe Andruw had a bead on it but couldn’t quite get there. It would allow for a poignant story about how Father Time affects even formerly all-world center fielders.

I dunno. There isn’t a lot of news spinning out of the All-Star Game yet. I’ve got very little to work with and it’ll be months or maybe years before we can start talking about Jeter and Davis’ kids. Until then we’ll just kill time with baseball stuff.


Chris Sale says Tony Gwynn’s death saved his life

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — During this morning’s press conference announcing the starting lineups, a local reporter asked the managers and starting pitchers how local legend Tony Gwynn impacted them. For his part, Ned Yost told a funny story about how, back when he was coaching the Braves, Bobby Cox and the best pitching staff of the decade had no idea how to get Gwynn out so they eventually just suggested throwing the ball down the middle to see what happened. That didn’t work either. Gwynn could hit a little bit.

American League starter Chris Sale had a more poignant comment. He said that Tony Gwynn saved his life. He did so by virtue of his death. Sale was a long time smokeless tobacco user. He quit, however, on June 16, 2014. That was the day Tony Gwynn died or oral cancer. Sale said that he has not touched the stuff since and that that “to say that he saved my life, I don’t think it’s an understatement.”

As we’ve noted in the past, it’s quite possible and likely probable that Gwynn’s heavy smokeless tobacco use did not, in fact, cause the cancer that killed him. Gwynn believed it did, however, and his death has become perhaps the biggest symbol of the perils of smokeless tobacco in and around baseball. That there may not have been an actual link between it and his death is sort of beside the point, especially given that even if it did not cause his cancer, it’s clearly a dangerous and deadly habit.

Tony Gwynn was a hero to many and an inspiration to many more. Regardless of the medical science at play, if his example, negative or otherwise, has inspired people to quit a terrible habit, he’s continuing to do good from Baseball Valhalla.