Craig Calcaterra

Donald Trump goes after the family that owns the Chicago Cubs


On the surface you would think that Donald Trump and the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, would go together well. Conservatives in the most modern sense of the term.  Trump, though talking tough about welfare and the need for self reliance, has always been in favor of government subsidies if they suited his own personal interests. Likewise the Ricketts, despite their patriarch leading a group called “Taxpayers against Earmarks,” asked for and received millions for a new spring training facility in Arizona and spent years asking for tax dollars to renovate Wrigley Field. They’re really, really against spending. At least spending that benefits people other than the Ricketts family.

There are some social similarities too. Trump’s presidential campaign was launched thanks to demonizing Mexicans and has sustained its momentum thanks to demonizing Muslims. The Ricketts family has never been like that, of course, but Joe Ricketts’ group once infamously suggested that it hire as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who could, among other things, slam President Obama for presenting himself as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” Which, given they felt the need for such a specification, tells you what they think a default African American is like.

I do not know what lies in the hearts of Donald Trump or Joe Ricketts. They may have good explanations for accepting tax breaks they’d not allow others to have and they may not have a racist bone in their bodies, but it’s clear that they have no compunction about (a) at least looking like hypocrites on a superficial level; or (b) using race as a means of ginning up support for whatever it is they’re pursuing.

Given those political similarities, it’s almost sad to see Trump and the Ricketts family feuding:

Given that the Cubs won 97 games last year Trump couldn’t go with this usual “losers” insult, I guess. It does make me wonder what it is he thinks they’re hiding, though. I mean, we all know they kept Andre Dawson in the ivy for several years, but what beyond that?

Photo of the Day: David Price and David Ortiz are now beeeesssst frieeennnds

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Boston Red Sox

In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Cat’s Cradle,” we are introduced to the wonderful religion of Bokononism. The basis of the religion is people telling each other harmless little lies in such a way as to make the world a little brighter. The religion’s followers know they’re lies, of course, but realize that if they just go with it they’ll be happier so why not go with it? The lies of Bokoninism — foma —  are self-affirming. Foma may not be the truth, but they’re better than all of the other lies out there which would be told anyway, right?

One of the other beliefs of Bokoninism is that people are linked with others in a cosmically significant manner, even if it’s not obvious. A group is called a “karass,” and we all have one. Or several. It could be you, your husband, the clerk at the DMV and some pop singer you’ve never met, but the cosmos are demanding that you and your karass are somehow doing the universe’s will in some way. You’re all in it together, even if you don’t know what “it” is. Sometimes the members and purpose of your karass are revealed to you — why does that guy I met at that party that one time keep intersecting with my life anyway? — sometimes they are not. Life is just weird that way.

There are, however, false karasses. Groups of people who think they’re all connected somehow, but really aren’t. People who go to the same school, people of the same political party, people who root for the same sports teams and stuff like that. These false karasses are called “granfalloons,” and they’re comprised of people who share some sort of identity that really serves no purpose, even if they think it does. The funny thing about karasses and granfalloons are that people rarely think too hard about the former and they put WAY too much emphasis on the latter.

All of which brings us to David Price and David Ortiz. In 2013 Price got mad at Ortiz for, in his view, taking too much time to admire a home run during a playoff game. The next season the two were involved in a huge dustup when the Rays and Red Sox played again, with Price hitting Ortiz with a pitch, which eventually led to a benches-clearing incident and lots of ejections. After the game, Ortiz said this about Price:

“You can’t be acting like a little girl out there. You’re not going to win every time. When you give it up, that’s an experience for the next time. If you’re going act like a little [expletive] when you give it up, bounce back and put your teammates in jeopardy, that’s going to cost you . . . He knew he screwed up. He did that on his own. No manager sent him. No player was comfortable with the situation. He did that on his own. Which is [expletive]. He can get somebody else hurt. You can’t be doing that [stuff]. It’s on. Next time [Price] better bring the gloves. I have no respect for him no more.”

Strong words. Which are now forgotten, it seems. Ortiz reported to Red Sox camp this morning and met with his new teammate, David Price:



I think sports teams are granfalloons, both for players and fans. People think they have greater meaning and purpose than they do but, in reality, they are foma of the sort which does not really do the universe’s bidding. I know a lot of jerks who root for the team I root for and you do too. A lot of players on the same team really don’t like each other but they put that aside in order to do their job and fulfill what they believe to be their karass’ mission. Even if there is no real mission.

I feel like Ortiz and Price are part of a real karass, though. That their multi-year disdain for one another and subsequent, immediate friendship is really the universe’s way of revealing to people that either sports beefs are sports alliances are kind of silly when you think about them too much. Which, in turn, reveals that sports themselves are foma, designed to make our world a little brighter even if there are some dumb or negative aspects to them.

Sing a calypso and root for your baseball team. It’s way better than thinking too hard about all of those destructive lies out there.

The Rangers are considering Shane Victorino

Los Angeles Angels' Shane Victorino swings for strike three against the Houston Astros in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that the Rangers have “looked into” Shane Victorino but appear to only be willing to offer a minor league deal.

That’s probably about as good as he can hope for. Victorino is 35 and has spent much of the past two seasons nursing injuries of one form of another, though he says he’s healthy now. He played in 71 games between Boston and Anaheim last year and only 30 games in 2014. Heck, he hasn’t played in more than 122 games since 2012. He was quite productive in that 122-game season back in 2013, which likely is enough to inspire someone to give him one last shot, but the odds of him spending much if any time on a big league roster this year are (a) low; and (b) heavily dependent on how many injuries someone’s outfielders suffer.

Of course, given that the often-injured and still hobbling Josh Hamilton is penciled in as the Rangers’ left fielder right now, Texas wouldn’t be the worst place for the Flyin’ Hawaiian to do a minor league deal.