Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Getty Images

It’s time to get all outraged at Yoenis Cespedes playing golf again

32 Comments

Last year, during the playoffs, a small number of Mets fans and media folks raised their eyebrows at Yoenis Cespedes playing golf the day of a playoff game. It wan’t much of a controversy, though, and was basically forgotten when the Mets got past the Cubs and made it to the World Series. Its lack of legs was pretty understandable for another reason too: lots of ballplayers play golf on the day of games. It’s probably the number one hobby of ballplayers during the season.

Now, the day after the Mets put Cespedes on the disabled list with a strained quad, his golf habit is once again a problem. At least to a columnist looking to rile up fans. The columnist is Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post who, after spending a lot of time explaining how Cespedes’ bum quad is not a function of him playing golf and how the injury has nothing to do with his hobby, says this:

And all of that said …

Man, this is a bad look. Man, this is a bad optic. Man, this is not the kind of stink bomb the Mets needed dropped in their clubhouse now as they try desperately to stay on the periphery of the wild-card race with all their fingernails . . . Today, this is a fair question to ask:

Cespedes had already begged off playing center field because he was already worried plenty about blowing the quad out completely. But he wasn’t willing to sacrifice bombing away off the tee? Shouldn’t there have been a certain amount of responsibility to the team paying him $27 million this year?

And shouldn’t somebody have pointed this all out to him? One of his bosses? Assuming he still sees them as bosses?

No, it’s not a fair question to ask, especially since the columnist himself says, many, many times that “golf didn’t cause this” or even exacerbate it. It’s not “a bad look” to have the same hobby over half of the players in the game have. It’s not “reasonable to ask,” as the columnist does, if this was bad when the same columnist notes that it is unreasonable to make a connection between the injury and the golf. Indeed, it’s highly unreasonable to (a) compare playing a casual round of golf to playing center field in major league baseball games; and to (b) to cast aspersions on Cespedes’ attitude and respect for his manager and front office like he does in that last sentence. Really, what in the hell is that about? If team officials are questioning Cespedes’ attitude, report it.

Of course this is nothing new when it comes to Cespedes. Last spring he showed up to spring training with a bunch of fancy cars and people freaked out about that. As if every player parking lot isn’t filled with tricked-out rides. It’s likewise not new that these same activities — collecting fancy cars and playing golf — are never questioned when undertaken by a huge percentage of players in the game yet become a case of “bad optics” when certain players engage in them.

But those inconsistencies must be ignored when the business of casting aspersions on a superstar player is on the agenda. I mean, sure, it may be more significant that the Mets tried to keep Cespedes in the lineup and off the disabled list for weeks, essentially playing with half a player for a long time, rather than put him on the DL and allow him to get healthy for the stretch, but that’s not sexy. That would require possibly upsetting the manager or team officials one talks to all the time.

It’s way better and way easier to just lazily fan the flames of superstar athlete resentment by throwing out nonsensical comments about “optics” and “judgment” which are wholly unrelated to the matter at hand. It’s way easier to take a hatchet to a guy you don’t really quote very often. That sells.

Settling the Scores: Wednesday’s results

20 Comments

Short version today for a few reasons. Mostly, I’m still reeling because Bill used the word “boner” in a post and I can’t stop laughing. Hello, I’m a father of two in his 40s.

Anyway, here are the box scores. The results, which include the Tigers winning their eighth in a row, the Cubs winning on a walkoff wild pitch, some chippiness between the Mets and Yankees, the Rays beatin’ the tar out of the Royals, and Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson doing Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson things, are here:

Cubs 5, Marlins 4
Padres 12, Brewers 3
Nationals 8, Diamondbacks 3
Yankees 9, Mets 5
Orioles 3, Rangers 2
Phillies 5, Giants 4
Twins 13, Indians 5
Tigers 2, White Sox 1
Braves 8, Pirates 4
Cardinals 5, Reds 4
Rays 12, Royals 0
Blue Jays 3, Astros 1
Rockies 12, Dodgers 2
Angels 8, Athletics 6
Mariners 3, Red Sox 1

Baseball will be an Olympic Sport in 2020

27 Comments

The International Olympic Committee decreed today that baseball and softball will be Olympic sports in the 2020 Olympics. Also added were skateboarding, sports climbing, karate and surfing.

Baseball became a medal sport for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but was dropped for the 2012 London Games. It won’t be played this year in Rio de Janeiro, either. Japan is hosting the 2020 games, however, and host countries are given the opportunity to request the addition of new events. Baseball being what it is in Japan, it was logical that they’d at least ask for baseball, and today the IOC agreed. It will be in the form of a six-team tournament. It may only last for the 2020 games, however. It will not be approved beyond that. At least not now.

The question is who from the major leagues may play in it? A few weeks ago, when baseball was given approval in a preliminary vote, several major leaguers balked at the idea of doing so given that, you know, the Olympics tend to take place during the major league regular season. Japan and some other countries have discussed suspending their seasons for a couple of weeks, but it’s doubtful MLB would do that.

Which is not the end of the world if you’re pro-Team USA. In the past Olympic baseball teams consisted almost exclusively of college players. Indeed, Olympic baseball was the first place many of us saw some future stars. In 1984, in Los Angeles, baseball was only a demonstration sport, but Mark McGwire and Will Clark were introduced to many of us. U.S. won gold at the 2000 games, with Ben Sheets, among others, turning heads. The 2008 bronze medal winners featured Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Strasburg.

The 2020 Olympic baseball teams from the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and, perhaps, Canada may not feature the top possible talent each country can offer given that those guys are always big leaguers. But it can still be fun. Here’s hoping it will be.