Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Nick Swisher is thrilled the Braves released him

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Tim Casey of Vice Sports spoke with Nick Swisher, who is currently at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the Yankees organization, waiting for his shot. It’s been a rough couple of years for Swisher in which he’s suffered through knee injuries, ineffectiveness and anger from Indians fans for not living up to the contract the club gave him.

He was shuffled off to Atlanta last year, played poorly and did not make the team out of spring training this year. But he’s still happy that the Braves, the worst baseball team in over a decade and serious contenders to be the worst baseball team in the modern era, thought that he wasn’t good enough:

“Being released by the Braves in the long run is gonna be the best thing that ever happened to me, man . . . I’m actually happy that it did happen because after seeing what’s going on over there, I don’t know if that’s where I would want to be right now.”

Guy is stuck in Scranton and, at best, has the chance to be a bench bat for a last place Yankees team and he’s still happy he’s not in Atlanta. Man, what a year.

Poll: Americans hate the DH, like bat flips and think Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame

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Public Policy Polling — which normally handles political stuff — does an annual sports poll too. There’s a lot of baseball in it and that makes it relevant to our interests.

All of the results, with respect to all sports, can be found here. Some of the highlights:

  • 68% of sports fans consider domestic violence to be a more serious offense than taking PEDs and that domestic violence should lead to more serious discipline to only 21% who think using PEDs is worse. I presume all 21% of those who think PEDs are worse are Hall of Fame voters;
  • On a similar note, 51% of MLB fans think Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be let in the Hall of Fame, 34% kept out;
  • In sports labor conflicts, 43% of Americans says they generally side with the players compared to just 20% who say they generally side with the owners. Which I have a hard time believing. Maybe fans don’t think they’re siding with owners, but they certainly agree with the same positions regarding labor and salaries and stuff that owners do;
  • 56% of fans approve of doing the wave at sporting events to 18% who disapprove. I used to be totally anti-wave, but I’ve changed my mind on that to mere indifference. It’s part of my whole “don’t hate what other people like just because other people like it” kick. I won’t likely do the wave because, eh, why, but if you want to do the wave, enjoy yourself;
  • MLB fans prefer pitchers batting over the DH 65/25. It was 55/33 last year. I can only presume that this year’s polling was done while Bartolo Colon was literally rounding the bases during his homer on Saturday;
  • MLB fans approve of bat flips, 48/31. Generational divide- Millennials support them 79/9, seniors are against 23/43.

Now is a good time for me to remind you that democracy is the best thing there is, except in instances where the majority disagrees with me. Then it is the worst thing. I presume you feel the same way. If so, it’s the only thing I agree with you on.

Should the Baseball Hall of Fame move to New York City?

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Friend of HBT Nathaniel Rakich writes about the Hall of Fame at The Hardball Times today. But not about its inductees. He writes about its location: Cooperstown, New York. The small village a good four hours away from major population centers. Rakich proposes changing that by moving it to The Big Apple:

I picture a gleaming, modern museum ready to tell baseball’s story. It could be adjacent to the site of Ebbets Field or on the grounds of the old Yankee Stadium. It could sit on the Chelsea waterfront, with a spectacular view of baseball’s true birthplace, Elysian Fields. It could be anywhere with a New York City address and a nearby subway stop. But it can’t be in Cooperstown much longer.

I’ve toyed with this notion from time to time and, at various times, thought it might be a good idea. It’d probably be better for the Hall’s bottom line. More people would go there, I reckon. If you’re thinking about it in utilitarian terms, it’s hard to argue against such an idea, actually. But ultimately I couldn’t support it, mostly because thinking in utilitarian terms is kind of a drag and when you think about “the greatest good for the greatest number” you necessarily have to contend with what happens to the lesser number.

The village of Cooperstown is, in a lot of ways, built around the Hall of Fame. There’s more going on there, of course — some great beer for one thing, small businesses and other charms of small town life — but it’s a key part of the village’s identity and economic prosperity. Would it be better for the Hall to be in New York? Quite possibly. But we’ve seen enough migration of business from small towns to large cities in the several decades. It’d be nice to stop that at some point, somewhere.

More broadly, I think there’s something to be said for taking a literal journey once in a while, and leaving the cities most of us call home to visit small towns nestled in the countryside in order to experience the pastoral joys of baseball history is one of those instances. Or pastoral-ish. I realize baseball largely grew up in New York and that Cooperstown’s connection to baseball history is based on a myth, but it’s a myth surrounded by a lot of peaceful and pretty things. There’s something to be said for that too.

Ultimately this is all just talk. The Hall of Fame is steadfast in its support of Cooperstown and always has been. There’s nothing to suggest it’d consider a move. If it ever did, though, I’d be against it. A nice drive is good for the soul.