Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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The New York Post is running the Mets now

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Yesterday I linked and mocked an eminently mockworthy column in the New York Post which took Yoenis Cespedes to task for playing golf despite having a quad injury. Never mind that there was and is no suggestion that playing golf was bad for Cespedes’ quad. Indeed, the author of the column even admitted that as his premise. No, it just looked bad, he argued. “Bad optics.”

Today Mets GM Sandy Alderson buys in 100% to the “bad optics” line, while admitting that, in reality, there is nothing negative about Cespedes golfing apart from the “bad optics.” Still, he’s gonna crack down on Cespedes anyway. From Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:

On Thursday, Alderson added that he has come to a “mutual agreement” with Cespedes’ representatives that the outfielder will refrain from golfing, at least for the time period when it could be viewed negatively by the public.

“I’ve had conversations with his people, but not directly with Yoenis,” Alderson said. “But that message will get to him, at least circuitously, and probably directly . . . The golf is bad optics. Let’s just start there. Our doctors have told us that probably had no impact on the injury — positive or negative. But let’s face it: You play golf during the day and then go out injured in the evening, it’s a bad visual. I think he recognizes that at this point. So we’ll go from there.”

You know what else is a “bad visual?” Keeping a guy who injured his quad on July 8th active and running him out to the outfield every day despite the fact that his leg is hurt. Those are more than just “bad optics,” actually, it’s mismanagement. Alderson admits, at least, that they made a mistake in how Cespedes was handled by the team. But, sure, golf is the problem. Wait, I’m sorry, golf isn’t itself a problem. Golf in “the time period when it could be viewed negatively by the public” is the problem.

What a cowardly comment. Golf is either bad for Cespedes’ injury or it isn’t. If Alderson believes his doctors who say that it isn’t, there is no reason to prevent Cespedes from playing golf — or handwringing over the “optics” of it — other than fear of and acquiescence to whatever a columnist from the New York Post thinks. It’s a total capitulation to the tabloids and the sorts of things that get tabloid readers angry during a frustrating season.

Here’s some news for Alderson that shouldn’t be news: sports fans, especially tabloid-reading and talk radio-listening fans, get agitated by almost anything an athlete does during his free time. They hate that they buy big houses and date pretty women and go out to expensive restaurants. They hate when they’re not just the right amount of sad when they lose (but not TOO sad lest they be seen as something less than a leader). They hate when they rely on old cliches. They hate when they say something that isn’t a cliche. They hate when they don’t wear their uniform the way some star did at whatever point in history the fan in question happened to be 12-years-old. They hate when they exercise their contractual rights. They hate it when they’re outspoken. They hate it when they don’t talk to the press. Really, other than hitting homers or tossing shutouts, there’s a certain breed of fan who doesn’t like a damn thing athletes do other than entertain them. They’re gladiators who are to be seen only doing one, narrow thing and who are never to be heard. Having any personal interests is bad. A “distraction.” “Bad optics.”

That’s the fan that New York Post column was catering to yesterday. That’s who the Daily News was catering to when it wrote that “Cespedes’ fancy cars are a problem” column last spring. That’s the fan Sandy Alderson is catering to when he says stuff like this:

“Yoenis has his own personal life that sometimes is larger than life. We’ve seen that from the beginning of spring training.”

As if playing golf and liking nice cars is somehow “larger than life” for a professional athlete. Or to anyone else for that matter (I bet Cespedes spends a lower percentage of his salary on cars than most fans do). Nevertheless, to Alderson and the Mets, a player having a personal life is “bad optics,” so it has to go. It has to go even if it’s not an actual problem. It has to go because the muckraking media says it’s a problem. The tabloids say so, and so it must be.

Congratulations on letting the New York Post run your team, Sandy.

Mark Teixeira to announce his retirement at 3pm today

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Big, big news out of New York. The Yankees are going to hold a press conference with Mark Teixeira today at 3pm. It is expected that he will announce his retirement, which will become effective at the end of the season.

Teixeira is in his 14th season in the bigs and, sadly, it’s time for him to hang it up. He’s currently hitting .198/.287.340 with 10 homers and 27 RBI. While he had an effective 2015 in 111 games, this is the second below replacement level season he’s had in two years. His body just can’t hold up to it anymore and his time as an effective player is over. Indeed, it’s highly likely that he would’ve been released by the Yankees this year if it wasn’t for the fact that the organization lost several other first base options to injuries. It’s a testament to Teixeira that he’s played as much as he has, but it’s likewise clear that he is not part of the Yankees future.

For as hard a go Teixeira has had this season, he’ll finish with a pretty nice career overall. At the moment his career batting line is .269/.361/.511, which translates to an OPS+ of 127. He has 404 homers and 1,281 RBI. An excellent first baseman for almost all of his career, he is a five-time Gold Glover and a three-time All-Star. His best season arguably came in 2008, which he split between the Angels and the Braves, hitting .308/.410/.552. I’d assume his most satisfying season, however, was when he helped lead the 2009 Yankees to a World Series title, smacking 39 homers and driving in 122.

Texeira is entitled to a nice goodbye over an unceremonious release. While I’m sure he’d prefer to be going out with better production on a playoff team, his current circumstances and that of the Yankees at least allows him to bow out with grace.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rangers 5, Orioles 3: The Rangers avoid the sweep thanks to their new additions. Jonathan Lucroy hit his first homer with Texas and Carlos Beltran had two hits and an RBI. When I first wrote that first sentence I accidentally typed “new editions.” That’s a totally different thing. A totally different and super cool thing.

Indians 9, Twins 2: The Twins have given the Indians a lot of trouble this year but Cleveland figured them out at least for one afternoon. The longball helped as Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Joe Ramirez all went deep. Hector Santiago made his first start with the Twins, giving up four runs on five hits in five innings and a couple of those bombs.

Rays 3, Royals 2: The Rays were down two in the bottom of the eighth when Brad Miller came up and smacked a three-run homer. The Rays only had four hits in the game. Three of them came in that eighth inning.

Reds 7, Cardinals 0: I talked up Joey Votto and his hitting streak yesterday so of course he comes out and drops an 0-for-4. He probably didn’t mind too much, though, as his teammates certainly came through. Particularly catcher Ramon Cabrera, who singled in three runs and starter Brandon Finnegan who tossed six scoreless. The Reds are 12-6 since the All-Star break.

Giants 3, Phillies 2: These two went to extras for the second day in a row. This time the Giants prevailed thanks to Denard Span‘s leadoff homer in the 10th inning. Matt Moore made his Giants debut after coming over from Tampa Bay. He allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, which ain’t bad! He also walked six , which ain’t good!

White Sox 6, Tigers 3: Jordan Zimmermann came back and got shelled for six runs in less than two innings then got sent for an MRI. No word if he stepped on a rake in the front yard and dropped his cell phone in the toilet, but that would’ve been in keeping with his day. The Tigers’ eight-game winning streak came to an end. Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia homered for Chicago.

Athletics 8, Angels 6: Yonder Alonso hit an RBI double in the 10th inning to but Oakland over and help them end their five-game losing streak. It also made up for the fact that Alonso’s error in the eighth inning is what allowed the Angels to tie it in the first place.

Mets 4, Yankees 1: The Bruce is loose! Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer while Bartolo Colon allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. That homer broke an 0-for-10 start in New York for Bruce. If that had kept up I’m sure the press coverage would’ve been super understandable and compassionate.

Braves 5, Pirates 2: Ryan Vogelsong allowed only one run in six innings and left with the game tied 1-1, likely feeling pretty good about how his first start in two months went. Then the Pirates fell apart, allowing two runs in each the seventh and eighth innings. The Pirates have lost five of six. They’re three back in the Wild Card but five teams are ahead of them. What a disappointing season it’s been for them.

Blue Jays 4, Astros 1: This is one of those dog days series that seem like it has gone on for 10 games. Really, can’t remember the last time I didn’t do a recap with these two facing each other. Maybe they only play one another, 162 games a year, and we’ve all been tricked into thinking it’s normal. I don’t know. The Jays took three of four from the Astros according to the official version Major League Baseball wants you to believe, but it feels more like 30 of 40 or something.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 2: Kenta Maeda allowed two runs over five and two-thirds innings and Corey Seager hit his 19th homer. That ties a record for homers by a Dodgers shortstop. It’s not like it’s some venerable record by an all-time great or anything, though. It was Hanley Ramirez in 2013. Imagine him playing shortstop now. Dodgers salvage the series.

Red Sox 3, Mariners 2: Brock Holt with an 11th inning RBI single. Travis Shaw hit a solo homer. The Sox’ bullpen pitched five scoreless innings