Author: Craig Calcaterra

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Alvin Dark: 1922-2014


Alvin Dark, who as a player was the 1948 Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-Star team three times, and as a manager led both the Giants and the Athletics to the World Series, has died at age 92.

Dark was one of the best shortstops of his era, starring for the Giants but spending time with the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs and Phillies, Dark hit .289/.333/.411 over a 14-season career which spanned from 1946 through 1960. He was the Giants captain during the 1950s.

But Dark wasn’t just a baseball player. He was a star football player at LSU and Southwest Louisiana Institute before choosing baseball — he was actually drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles — and was an excellent amateur basketball player too. He served in the United States Marine Corps at the end of and right after World War II. While he didn’t see combat, he served in extremely dangerous circumstances in China right after the war during the Chinese Civil War in 1945.

As a manager, Dark was the first man to manage the All-Star Game in both leagues, by virtue of managing both the San Francisco Giants (1962) and the Oakland Athletics (1974) to pennants. He had two separate stints as A’s manager, actually, managing the club when it was in Kansas City in the 60s as well, with a few years as the Indians manager and general manager sandwiched in between. He was let go by Charlie O. Finley a second time following the 1975 season even though his A’s won 98 games. He managed the Padres for part of the 1977 season before being fired in spring training in 1978 which, no, doesn’t happen too terribly often.

Before his death, Dark was the oldest-living manager of a World Series team.

(most of the facts here were found in SABR’s thorough biography of Dark which can be read here)

Scott Boras once again stumps for a neutral site World Series. Which is dumb.

Scott Boras AP

Scott Boras, in addition to messing with the Mets again, hit one of his other favorite topics at the GM meetings yesterday: a neutral site World Series:

“If we continue to do this on a regional scale, we’re going to lose something that baseball deserves, and what it deserves is world attention,” he said. “There is a sacrifice of two, three or four (home) games for a team, but the betterment it brings to baseball on the whole far exceeds the detriment.”

Yeah, I’ve never bought this for a second.

Sure, it may be nice for the kinds of people and corporations who like to plan big boondoggle parties — gee, I wonder if Boras is one of those people? — but it makes zero sense for baseball and baseball fans and will do nothing to give the World Series “world attention” like he claims.

First of all, does he think that 40,000+ fans will fill a neutral site stadium as many as seven times for such an event? How many Royals fans would’ve made the trek to Miami in October on less than a week’s notice? And if it’s not Royals fans going to watch the Royals, who are these people going to World Series games? Contest winners and rich jackwagons like that guy in the Marlins clothes this year who will go to any BIG EVENT because they can afford it? What kind of a crowd would that be? That is, assuming there would be a crowd. Because I sort of doubt MLB could sell nearly 300,000 tickets to a neutral site World Series.

Most people watch on TV, of course. But I can’t see how a neutral site would change that for them. The game would still be on Fox, and Fox would fill the entire hour before the first pitch with the same studio stuff they do now. Great, the background would be some palm trees someplace rather than the local parks now, but it doesn’t change the fact that two teams from two specific cities would be playing each other. If baseball can’t get “the world” to watch that now, I don’t see how the event being at a neutral site changes that.

This is a great idea for corporate sponsorship and people who organize parties. It’s pretty good for the hotel industry too, which can start renting rooms a year or two in advance. But it would mean very little for baseball or for baseball fans.

The Phillies sign Jeff Francoeur, seven others to minor league deals

jeff francoeur getty

I can’t remember the last time I wanted a guy to make a team as much as I want Jeff Francoeur to make the Phillies next year. He’ll get his chance as he and seven others, including Xavier Paul, Russ Canzler and Brian Bogusevic, signed minor league deals with spring invites today.

Really, Francoeur on the Phillies is basically the trolling singularity for guys like me. I would probably watch every single Phillies game he started next season if he made it. I’d even consider a Phillies shirsey with his name on the back.

But, beyond that, I’m not mocking the deal here. It’s only a minor league thing. And a team that is rebuilding should be in the business of getting veteran placeholders who cost virtually nothing to keep spots warm until there is a plausible prospect to be used in his place. A mockable move would be to sign some 30something scrub to a multi-year deal to fill that spot. This is actually just good sense by Ruben Amaro. Stockpile veterans who are basically free and do your best to get through the season.

Still, I am totally on team Francoeur here. And I am dead serious about buying that shirsey if he makes the team. You guys remind me of this next April, OK?

Joe Torre says managers won’t be allowed to kill time while deciding whether to challenge a call

Bochy replay

One of the more annoying parts of instant replay was how managers, while waiting to hear back from someone in their dugout for direction on whether to actually challenge a call, would meander out onto the field and stall. Usually they’d “ask for clarification,” but it was a stall, make no mistake.

Joe Torre acknowledged yesterday that was a problem and said something would be done about it for 2015:

“That was really my baby,” Torre said. “The one thing we talked about challenging, I didn’t want to take away from the manager the fact that he could run out there and argue. I didn’t really plan on them meandering out there and having conversations, You live and learn.

“I think that’s one area [where] we’ll do something different. We’ll eliminate some of that standing around because 10 seconds in our game seems like a lifetime. Hopefully we can make that a little more comfortable.”

I’m curious to learn what can actually be done about this given that we’re still treating replay review like a game. If you’re going to put it on the manager’s shoulders to challenge missed calls and if you’re going to penalizing him for being wrong by taking away his right to challenge later in the game, he is going to have to know if he’s right to challenge. That will take time and a quick video review of his own, whether he’s on the field or off of it. Otherwise you’re just asking them to gamble.

Of course, this will probably not concern the people who thought it was cool to make a game out of replay in the first place rather than actually put the responsibility on umpires to make sure their calls are right. Gambling is a game! One that can be even more fun than the lower-stakes gambling we had with the rule last year.

Sandy Alderson zings Scott Boras

Sandy Alderson Citi Field

For several years Scott Boras has made a sport of mocking the Mets’ low-spending ways with supermarket analogies.

It started in 2011 when he said that the Mets shop “in the fruits and nuts aisle.” He updated that in 2012 to “the freezer section.” Yesterday at the GM meetings Boras said the Mets “went to more of the ready food section.”

Mets GM Sandy Alderson shot back. From Marc Carig of Newsday:

Consider it printed.