Craig Calcaterra

Ned Colletti

Ned Colletti: not a fan of a Ned Colletti Twitter parody account

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There’s a fellow who, for several years, has run a Ned Colletti parody account on Twitter, known as “@DodgerzGM.” As far as parody accounts go it’s pretty good in that it’s not some one-note joke beaten into the ground and it’s not mean spirited. It’s funny and has some good satirical bite, but it’s pretty harmless as these things go.

As Jorge Arangure reports over at Vice, however, Twitter has shut it down. Possibly based on complaints from the Dodgers and/or Ned Colletti. And even better, Arangure asked Colletti about it and he was . . . surly. Go check the story out.

In other news, when I was at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday, I was wandering around the practice fields, over where fans and the general public can wander around too. Also wandering there: Ned Colletti. And I do mean wandering. Hands in his pockets, stopping to talk to a scout here or there, but clearly interactions of a personal nature — “Hey, how ya doin’? It’s been a while!” as opposed to matters of pressing business.

Put differently, it was just one of many signs, I have now learned, that Ned Colletti happens to have a lot of time on his hands these days.

The Padres are . . . relaxed

Matt Kemp
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PEORIA — Ariz. — Because I am an utter glutton for punishment, I decided to brave crosstown Phoenix traffic yesterday afternoon and go from the daytime Cubs-Angels game over to the evening Dodgers-Padres tilt. Why? Partially because the first Will Ferrell game I saw was fun so why not see a second one? But also because this Padres team is so fundamentally different than what we saw last year that I wanted to grok their new zeitgeist for myself.

It has been two years since I’ve been in Peoria, actually, and a whole lot is different. For one thing, the complex at which the Padres and Mariners train has been totally redone, and it’s pretty fantastic. Standing inside the Padres clubhouse and you think you’re inside the Cubs’ brand new clubhouse over at Sloan Park. It’s big, open, airy and filled with natural light.

But the architectural changes are not the most notable thing. That would be Matt Kemp, holding court and seemingly setting the tone for a loose, happy clubhouse.

Kemp, who was wearing a T-shirt with the case of the movie “The Sandlot” on it, has a mini Marshall amp in his locker hooked up to his iPhone and soon after I arrived he started playing jams. Maybe not the jams you’d expect. Blasting from his speaker was “The Promise,” by When in Rome. When that didn’t really grab anyone (except for 40 something baseball writers who were straight grooving on it) he switched to Hall and Oates. “Private Eyes,” if you care. Except that song sounds so much better in a big major league clubhouse with an All-Star outfielder clapping his hands to the beat [they’re watchin’ you — clap-clap — they see your every move”] than it does on the radio in your mom’s 1979 Buick LeSabre.

That party didn’t last too long, as Kemp disappeared outside the back door of the clubhouse. I followed and found myself next to the Padres’ outdoor basketball court, tucked in between the clubhouse and the practice fields. There were 20-30 players there, watching an in-progress three-point competition, complete with the racks of balls around the arc, NBA-style. It was a team competition, with the 5’6″ Alexi Amarista cleaning up for the team in action at the moment. His touch was nice, but one-time Cubs prospect Jay Jackson had a nice touch too. Everyone was else was either rebounding, watching, trash-talking or some combination of the three.

Even manager Bud Black was getting into the act, hanging out on the court and talking his fair share of trash too. Earlier I saw him taking part in the team’s ping pong competition. All teams do that, but I’ve not seen a manager involved. Hell, it’s not often you see a manager do much besides hang in his office and talk to the coaches in the few hours before the game. But Black was.

I talked to some Padres employees after the clubhouse closed. They had seen me tweeting about the atmosphere and wanted to let me know that, no, this was not unusual this spring. Matt Kemp has been holding court, happy and loose as hell. He, in turn, has taken pressure off of Justin Upton who, while always tabbed to be a superstar, has never struck anyone as the rah-rah leader type. I’m told that he’s really loose too, happy the spotlight isn’t on him, allowing him to be himself. Wil Myers is a tad tired of answering questions about covering center — he either will or he won’t hack it — but he seems pretty happy to not be asked about being a prospect at a crossroads or the subject of one of the more infamous trades in recent years.

A good clubhouse and good team chemistry doesn’t win ballgames. Ultimately the Padres’ fate hinges on that outfield defense. On Yonder Alonso living up to his potential. On the rotation — which looks pretty spiffy on paper — staying healthy. On whether the Dodgers and Giants stumble enough to allow San Diego to break into contention.

But it doesn’t hurt either. And while it’s only March 13 and no battle plan survives engagement with the enemy (with said engagement more than three weeks away), at the moment the Padres have mood and attitude covered like crazy.

It’s quite a zeitgeist to grok, actually.

R.A. Dickey stole Daniel Norris’ VW Van

R.A. Dickey
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This offseason we got to know Jays pitcher Daniel Norris a bit better. Specifically, about how he lives in a VW van and roams the earth like Caine from “Kung-Fu.” It sounds like a pretty sweet existence.

Today, however, he ran into some adversity:

Maybe Dickey was jealous about there being someone in camp quirkier than a knuckleballer. Not something that happens too often.

Does being in The Best Shape of Your Life portend a good season?

Biceps
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We keep track of the Best Shape of His Life stuff around these parts. It’s our belief, though, that BSOHL is mostly an exercise in spin and optimism. In the past we’ve made some comparisons of pre-and-post BSOHL seasons from given players and could find no real correlation between the claim and improved results, but we’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t look at the matter too rigorously.

Ben Lindbergh of Grantland looked it, however, and he found something interesting. Something that, while not life-altering or anything, is at least somewhat meaningful with respect to the BSOHL All-Stars.

I won’t give away his conclusions — you have to go read his article for that — but I do think it demands at least some bit of a change in the way those of us on the BSOHL beat deal with these things in the future. Perhaps differentiating between those who are obviously spinning coming off a bad year vs. those who just, screw it, decided to bulk up.

I get to see Will Ferrell play center field today and that’s OK

Will Ferrell
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TEMPE, Ariz. — There’s not a lot going on here at Tempe Diablo Stadium right now, so let’s talk about cultural garbage, shall we?

Yesterday when it was announced that Will Ferrell was going to do the play all nine positions thing, my first impulse was to engage in some mild grumping. I hate that that was my first impulse.

That sort of grumping is an impulse a lot of us have about anything related to celebrities, P.R. stunts and, especially, anything that is perceived to be less-than-totally-cool. My post earlier today about Guy Fieri was in that vein. Most of my Rush comments are goofing around and trying to bait Rush fans, but yes, there is at least a small element of this sort of grumping with that too. Will Ferrell is no longer considered totally cool, see — he probably already reached his high point a while back — so our impulse is to register some sort of mild annoyance with it, be it an eyeroll or an actual complaint. We do it with music and movies and any bit of pop culture that has either gotten too popular or has become somewhat passé.

I think it’s a particularly strong impulse among people my age and older. People who grew up with a somewhat less-fragmented and thus somewhat more polarizing cultural scene. A lot of us felt it socially necessary to choose sides, culturally speaking, be it with cliques or music or what have you. To mock or deride that which we don’t care for. To engage in the same sort of judgmental game we did in 1992 if people were still listening to Warrant instead of Nirvana or 1978 if someone preferred Grand Funk to The Clash. You were with the cool kids and the cool things or you weren’t. Talk to any group of people between 40 and 50 and you can identify this pattern, even today.

I hate that. I hate that such impulses remain so strong among certain people, myself included. Not the impulse to like or dislike something — we all have our tastes and preferences — but the impulse to take things one step further and cast our preferences as some objectively culturally superior choice. To be really frickin’ culturally judgmental.

For a couple of reasons having to do with life and career changes, in the past few years my base of friends and acquaintances has become much younger. I tend to interact with more millennials than Gen-Xers like myself. And, thanks to being on the Internet all day, people even younger than that. These people are different. I mean, yes, there is still cultural garbage and the whole dance in which people signal to one’s tribe, but it’s far less pronounced with people 30 and younger than I’ve observed among people my own age. It’s not as unusual to find people who like bubblegum pop and indie rock. Young adult lit and stuff short-listed for the Booker Prize. Big dumb action movies and Oscar bait.

Most significantly, there is not as much of a social need for these people to apologize for their tastes or to explain away their enjoyment of that which is perceived to be less-than-high culture. There is always a need for people my age to do that, it seems. To say we don’t love Bruce Springsteen, but we love the “Nebraska” album. To say we hate country music, but Johnny Cash is cool. To very consciously and conspicuously label our pleasures either guilty or legitimate, rather than merely acknowledge and own our pleasures. And to make damn sure that people know, deep down, we’re cool.

I sometimes think I’m too old to shake this bad habit of cultural snobbery. It’s so deeply ingrained. But when I do manage to shake it and to simply enjoy fun things which are supposed to be nothing more than fun and goofy things which are supposed to be nothing more than goofy, it’s liberating. To appreciate a kickass pop hook, even if it comes from a 20-year-old pop starlet. To laugh at the oldest fart joke around. To appreciate a bit of mass culture for what it is, rather than to either mock it or appreciate it only on some arch, ironic level.

Which brings us back to Will Ferrell and the backlash I have seen to his baseball stunt, however mild it may be. I don’t think it’s about the fact that baseball’s integrity is being messed with. I mean, Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks have taken spring training hacks before, and lord knows that these games don’t matter all that much. I think it’s more about it being Will Ferrell and most people believing that Will Ferrell’s last truly good comedy movie was several years ago and that he’s past his sell-date with this sort of thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that if some younger, hotter comedian was doing this, not as many people would be grumbling. Or, alternatively, that if someone with greater cool kid credentials who approached this with a greater sense of irony was doing it, it’d be cheered on loudly. If Bill Murray were doing it everyone would love it, right?

Anyway, I’ll stop with my little cultural rant now. I don’t want to oversell it. I still love certain things and hate other things and I always will. And I’m still going to go for easy jokes because that’s sort of what I do. But I’m trying hard to not be that humorless guy from 1992 who hadn’t merely moved beyond Warrant and liked new things, but actively groaned at and judged people who didn’t make the same choices. To try to open myself up to new things, even if they aren’t things normally in my wheelhouse.

And I’m going to watch Will Ferrell play center field here at Tempe Diablo Stadium later and laugh at if it’s funny and smile at it either way.