Craig Calcaterra

Jonny Gomes

Nothing will kill the “Jonny Gomes: team leader” story

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The year is 2070. It is Opening Day. Jonny Gomes, age 89, is the last surviving member of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals. He ambles out to the green space between the mound and home plate and, with the help of his grandchildren, throws out the ceremonial first pitch. The fans at Salvador Perez Memorial Stadium* roar.

*Perez, sadly, died on the field on September 30, 2018 when manager Ned Yost sent him out to catch his 162nd game of the season despite the fact Perez had a concussion, two strained hamstrings, dropsy, scurvy and a sucking chest wound inflicted by an errant crossbow bolt at a Medieval Times restaurant the night before.  

The next morning, a column is penned by a baseball writer in which Gomes is hailed as the leader of the 2070 Royals. The heart and soul. A team which, if it fails to maintain ties with Gomes past opening day, “will lack the necessary professionalism and passion” he provides and will be doomed to failure.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But only a little bit. After all, he’s getting that treatment now, an he isn’t even on the playoff roster. From Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald:

Beard still long, red and curly, Gomes is starting to show signs of being 34 years old, but it’s not visible in his sturdy chest, nor in his fearless arms. He unleashed rounds full of powerful swings in batting practice, driving the ball as if it threatened him. To the casual onlooker, Gomes looks like the most prepared, powerful hitter on this potent Royals roster.

Except, again, he has taken no at bats in the postseason nor will he, in all likelihood. Mastrodonato goes on:

Time might be running out on his blue-collar career, one he built on sweat and heart, but to him there’s no end in sight.

“There will have to be a lot of people involved in ripping the jersey off me,” he said.

Tonight, Jonny Gomes is determined to help the Royals get to the World Series. Even if he doesn’t take a single at-bat.

There are quotes from current Royals saying they are happy to have him around. And I’m sure they are. No one, to my knowledge, has ever had anything bad to say about Gomes. But there’s a difference, it seems, between not saying anything bad about him and writing effusive columns about his grit, heart “fearless arms” (?) and the like everywhere he goes. The Atlanta writers did that this spring. The Boston writers have been doing it since 2013. The treatment will likely follow him wherever he goes and I just don’t get why he warrants all of that ink.

I wish I had his agent.

Barry Zito announces his retirement

Barry Zito
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It’s not a surprise. Not even close. It was very clear as the season ended and the A’s gave Barry Zito a final couple of starts that his playing career was coming to an end. But today he made it official, writing a column announcing it in The Players’ Tribune.

It’s not your standard retirement announcement. In it Zito talk about his professional and personal challenges, his religion, his family, his journey to self-acceptance and the like. In this it’s both very zen and very Zito, as we’ve come to know him over the past several years. It’s interesting to hear about it all in his own words.

Quite a journey the man has had. From a phenom to a Cy Young Award winner to something of an albatross and then finally onto journeyman status. From a guy who, at least according to some scattered reports back in his Oakland days, used to be a bit of a wild child on to a mature adult who has embraced Christianity and his family. For all of his ups and downs, he seems to be at a pretty peaceful and happy place. Not too bad.

As for the numbers: a record of 165-143 with an ERA of 4.04 (ERA+ 105) and a K/BB ratio of 1885/1064 in 2576.2 innings over 15 years. He won the Cy Young Award in 2002, his third season. He was a three-time All-Star. He was never what the Giants expected when they gave him a nine-figure deal but he was on the team for two World Series titles (though on the playoff roster for only one of them).

Not a bad career.

Major League Baseball to produce its first scripted mini-series

Ruth Called Shot Baseball
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Major League Baseball already produces a lot of TV. For example, there are baseball games. And its own network is a great place to go for highlights, studio shows and, if you’re into being screamed at nearly incoherently, Chris Russo. But now the league is dipping its toe into a scripted baseball production with a Babe Ruth miniseries.

The details are over at The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that the miniseries will be helmed by “The Sopranos'” Allen Coulter attached as director and executive producer. What he can bring to Babe Ruth’s story that hasn’t already been covered by multiple Babe Ruth movies in the past isn’t terribly clear, but maybe the miniseries format will do the Sultan of Swat better service than a mostly lackluster crop of movies has done.

My thinking: Babe lived a big life. It’s hard to squeeze that into a two hour movie without making him something of a caricature. If you have many more hours, maybe they’ll do a better job of making a human being out of him.