Craig Calcaterra

CANADA - MARCH 30:  Take flight: The Eagles have launched their latest album; The Long Run; and Peter Goddard says it's good but . . . The Eagles; pictured at a CNE concert in 1978; are clockwise from top; Timothy B. Schmitt; Don Felder; Glenn Frey; Joe Walsh and Randy Meisner.   (Photo by Doug Griffin/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
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The time Glenn Frey called a Pedro Guerrero home run

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Glenn Frey’s death the other day was just the latest in a series of bummer music industry deaths to kick off the new year.

And save me your “the Eagles sucked!” stuff so many on the Internet have been going on about in the past couple of days. Music is subjective and the Eagles had a lot of fans for whom their music meant a lot. Frey’s loss to them is no less worthy of respect than Bowie’s loss was to his fans. Music means something different to everyone.

Even if you decide to go all music critic-y with it, at least do what the best critics do and judge the Eagles and Frey based on what it is they set out to do and whether they did that particular thing well. Are the Eagles my favorite band? Nah, not at all. But they distilled country and laid back Laurel Canyon rock into something a lot of people who never would’ve listened to either of those things in the first place really loved. Congratulations if you own Joni Mitchell and Gram Parsons records — that’s good stuff! — but don’t slag on the Eagles just because they sold a lot of records to people who don’t. If you don’t like them don’t listen to them, but get off of your superiority trip. Besides, I have long suspected that Gram Parsons would’ve put out something like “Life in the Fast Lane” if he had lived long enough. The late 70s were rough on everyone.

Anyway, all of that leads to this, which provides a good excuse for a baseball blogger to write about Glenn Frey. He visited Vin Scully in the broadcast booth one time in 1985. And rather than just shut up and let the pro handle things when Pedro Guerrero went yard, he called it himself. Sure, there are some uneasy parallels to Frey taking charge with the Eagles and maybe screwing Don Felder out of some songwriting royalties for “Hotel California” — a control freak is always a control freak — but just like in everything else he did, Frey handled his baseball play-by-play duties with professionalism. Even if that’s not to your taste, you gotta respect it on some level.

Rest in peace.

The Yoenis Cespedes market and Offseason Fever

Yoenis Cespedes
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Nothing continues to happen in the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes.

Wait — is it a “sweepstakes” if no one really wants to just go for it and take the prize? I saw people nearly killing one another for a Powerball ticket a couple of weeks ago. The courting of Yoenis Cespedes, in contrast, comes off more like a couple of old ladies saying “no, you go ahead . . . you have it” when there’s only one piece of coffee cake left. They both probably want it, but they’d be totally cool with the other one saving them from themselves and a possibly unnecessary indulgence.

Each day there is some sort of non-news about Cespedes. Two days ago it involved the Padres of all teams “checking in” or “monitoring the situation” or some such nonsense hot stove phrase that escapes me. I know it wasn’t “kicking the tires” as it’s far too late in the offseason for that, but it was damn well short of something as serious as “discussions.”

Mostly it seems like a low-level battle between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets. The Nats apparently have an offer out there, but it’s possibly low or short or else more people would be talking about it. The Mets, slammed all winter for being cheap, are playing it close to the vest. Sandy Alderson said that the Mets are talking with Cespedes’ people. Fred Wilpon simply played dumb. The Yankees are hanging around saying coy little things, probably because it’s fun to mess with the Mets but maybe because they can sense a bargain when one comes along, for better or for worse.

This all feels like offseason fever. The time of the winter when we fixate so much on the couple of players left on the market that we forget that they were not the best players on the market all offseason. That time when we’re so far removed from baseball that we forget some very basic things about baseball. Things like how the Nationals really don’t have a place for Cespedes in their outfield. Things like how the Mets were just as excoriated last winter for being cheap and all they did once the season started was make a key pickup at the deadline, win their division easily and then go to the World Series. Sure, that pickup was Cespedes, but there’s always a way to improve your team once the season begins, especially when it’s a sure bet that 60% of your division is going to stink.

It’s all great sport to see who is going to sign the last big fish left in the free agency pool, but it’s easy to overstate the significance of that fish. I like Cespedes and think he’s a fine player, but he’s not going to single-handedly transform a pennant race (nor did he last year, contrary to what so many people believe). The Mets and Nationals know this, which explains why they’re treating him like that last piece of coffee cake. He’d be nice to have, but it’s easy to see regretting it later.

Really, Phyllis, you go ahead. I’m feeling sort of full.

The owners will discuss “the evils of opt-outs” today. Good luck with that.

CANADA - CIRCA 1900:  Peter Ueberroth Baseball Comm.   (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
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The quarterly owners meetings are going down this week and Jon Heyman tweeted a few minutes ago that “a lesson on the evils of opt-outs” is on the agenda. Heyman correctly notes that it’s too late for that, of course. All the big contracts have opt-outs now.

I’m less interested in the timing of this “lesson” than I am in the idea that someone, apparently, thinks it’s a good idea teach such a lesson at all. Baseball, you see, has a pretty bad history with a bunch of owners getting together at offseason meetings and talking about the evils of certain kinds of contracts for free agents. I mean, it’s pretty on the dang nose:

Shortly after being elected commissioner in 1984, Peter Ueberroth addressed the owners at a meeting in St. Louis. Ueberroth called the owners “damned dumb” for being willing to lose millions of dollars in order to win a World Series. Later, at a separate meeting with the general managers in Tarpon Springs, Florida, Ueberroth said that it was “not smart” to sign long-term contracts. The message was obvious—hold down salaries by any means necessary. It later emerged that the owners agreed to keep contracts down to three years for position players and two for pitchers.

That was the beginning of baseball’s infamous collusion cases, which resulted in three arbitration rulings against the owners which cost them over a quarter of a billion dollars in damages and, many have argued, contributed directly to the environment which made the 1994-95 strike possible, if not inevitable. You’ll note that collusion did not begin with a detailed memo ordering people to do this or not do that. It began with owners getting together and talking about what kinds of contracts were “damned dumb” or “not smart.”

So yes, a conversation about “the evils of opt-outs” at an owner’s meeting is probably worth bookmarking for future reference. Such as when, say next winter or the winter after that, free agents are suddenly unable to get those opt-outs that are being so freely handed out now.