Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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The Knives are out for Tony La Russa

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It’s not new for some basement blogger like me to rip Tony La Russa a new one, as I did yesterday after his dumb, hypocritical comments about Colin Kaepernick. It’s another thing for the baseball establishment to do so. But they’re starting to.

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan laid into the Hall of Fame manager in a column late last night, and he didn’t pull any punches:

Tony La Russa, a convicted drunk driver who managed one of the most steroid-addled clubhouses in modern baseball history and today oversees an organization that at the trade deadline passed along to multiple organizations private medical information about a player it wanted to deal, spent Wednesday playing moralist, a role that suits him about as well as chief baseball officer for a major league franchise.

Passan went on to deftly contextualize the ridiculousness of a man like La Russa professing to speak wise about what young black athletes experience and what they think about baseball and society.

It’s hard to disagree with what Passan says. It’s more notable in my mind, however, that he even said it. There is a habit in baseball media of deferring to experience and authority. Often times it’s well-placed deference, as it’s undeniable that a man like La Russa has greater insight to the sorts of topics that normally come up in the grand baseball conversation than any of us do. Sometimes, though, that deference is because, well, it can be hard to do your job if you piss off Tony La Russa or men like him.

We’ve reached a tipping point with La Russa, I suspect. He’s several years removed from a job where it was folly to criticize him (or, if you did, where you could expect some pretty pointed blowback). He has demonstrated a less-than-high aptitude for his current position. And, with yesterday’s comments, he showed that, when he’s talking about something other than baseball, he’s a reactionary old man who, with all due respect, is talking out of his ass.

Now the knives are out for him. I suspect there will be a lot more stabbing in the coming days.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Padres 3, Giants 1: Oh man, the Giants. Luis Perdomo outdueled Madison Bumgarner because of course he did. The Giants offense has been putrid — they scored just five runs against the Padres in their three-game series, dropping all three to the lowly Padres. San Francisco had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break. They now have only a half game lead over the second Wild Card qualifier right now, the Mets, and a one game lead over the closest team not currently in playoff position, the Cardinals. They both lost yesterday too so, OK, the Giants are safe for now, but this is getting into historic collapse territory.

Rays 8, Blue Jays 1: Alex Cobb won. The last time he had won before that was September 23, 2014. That’s quite a stretch. Cobb allowed one run while pitching into the seventh and was supported by homers from Corey Dickerson and Kevin Kiermaier. Congratulations, Kevin!

high-five

Cubs 7, Cardinals 0: Jon Lester with eight shutout innings, backed by homers from Anthony Rizzo — who drove in three — and David Ross. The Cubs can clinch the division with a win tonight at home vs. Milwaukee or if the Cardinals lose to the Giants in San Francisco.

Dodgers 2, Yankees 0: Goose eggs until the ninth when Justin Turner doubled in a run and then later came around to score on a Yasmani Grandal fielder’s choice. Clayton Kershaw only pitched into the sixth, as he’s still building stamina, but he was very Clayton Kersahw as he did it, allowing only one hit and striking out five.

Nationals 1, Mets 0: Tanner Roark shut ’em out for seven innings and the pen handled the rest. Wilson Ramos‘ homer in the seventh was the game’s only scoring.

Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Kevin Gausman shut ’em out for eight innings and the pen handled the rest. Mark Trumbo‘s homer in the second was the game’s only scoring.

Brewers 7, Reds 0: Junior Guerra shut ’em out for six innings and the pen handled the rest. Scooter Gennett‘s homer in the third inning, Domingo Santana‘s homer in the eighth inning and Manny Pina‘s RBI single in the second inning was the game’s only scoring. OK, this pattern is starting to break down.

Athletics 8, Royals 0: Sean Manaea shut ’em out for five innings and the pen handled the rest. Yonder Alonso‘s double in the first inning, Marcus Semien‘s double in the third inning, Bruce Maxwell‘s single in the third inning, Khris Davis‘ single in the eighth inning and Ryon Healy‘s single in the eighth inning was the game’s only scoring.

Yup, six shutouts went down yesterday. Good effort, you guys.

Phillies 6, Pirates 2: Freddy Galvis homered again. That’s 19 on the year for him, 10 of which have come in the past 32 games after he said he adjusted his swing. Before this year his career high for homers was 7 and he had a grand total of 20 career homers in 322 games before this year so, yeah, I’d say that’s an adjustment.

Tigers 9, Twins 6: It was tied at six entering the bottom of the seventh when Miguel Cabrera homered to give Detroit the lead. They added two more in the eighth via an Ian Kinsler single and a wild pitch. Kinsler went 4-for-5 with three RBI in all and Cameron Maybin and Cabrera each drove in a pair. Detroit is a game back of the Jays for the Wild Card now.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: Eight straight wins for the Mariners, thanks to Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager homers. Seattle is right on the Tigers’ tails, one and a half back of the second wild card.

Marlins 7, Braves 5: Game highlight: Marcell Ozuna throwing out a runner at first base from right field. It was a pitcher, but it’s still pretty impressive. Ozuna also hit a three-run homer, so he had quite a night. Earlier, the benches cleared after Braves pitchers threw two separate pitches at Jose Fernandez’s head. This came after an exchange of plunkings in which Fernandez hit Nick Markakis on the hip with a fastball — Markakis had homered earlier — and Julio Teheran plunked Martin Prado. Somewhere in that Braves dugout likewise remains institutional memory of the Braves and Fernandez getting into it a couple of years ago over home run trots and other assorted bullcrap. All of which is dumb, honor culture nonsense that could easily get someone seriously hurt and looks particularly bad on a couple of teams going nowhere.

Indians 6, White Sox 1: Jose Ramirez tripled in a couple of runs, Coco Crisp hit a three-run homer and Josh Tomlin was effective for five innings. There were 1,122 fewer dogs at this game than there were the night before.

Astros 8, Rangers 4: Hey, the Astros beat the Rangers. That’s rare. It was costly, however, as both Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman eft with injuries. An oblique and a hamstring, respectively. Turn out the light, Houston, the party’s over.

Diamondbacks 11, Rockies 6: Jean Segura homered twice — he did it the day before too — as the Dbacks sweep the Rockies. Arizona scored 34 runs in the three-game series. The Rockies should go back to Colorado now and think about what they’ve done. The rest of us should never speak of this abominable baseball again.

Major League Baseball is co-producing a baseball drama aimed at Generation Z

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My dad, born in 1943, is supposedly a member of the “Silent Generation,” which means that he liked Bob Dylan, but only as long as he played protest songs and liked protests only as long as the protesters had short hair and got a damn job.

My mom, born in 1948 is a Baby Boomer and pretty much fits the stereotypical bill. She wore stuff with shoulder pads in it in the 80s and watched “M*A*S*H”. What, you thought all Baby Boomers were at Woodstock? Bah.

I date to 1973, which means I spent most of my 20s and 30s overly-preoccupied with “authenticity” without ever bothering to ask why, setting back my emotional development a good ten years. I also have strong feelings for Winona Ryder and never felt older than when she showed up as the half-crazy mom of a high school kid in “Stranger Things.”

My fiancee was born in 1980 and, according to most sources, that makes her a Millennial, but she bristles at that label. I can see both sides. In some ways she has more Gen-X qualities, separate and apart from liking a tired old Gen-X guy like me, than Millennial qualities. On the other hand, she is constantly explaining to me how technology works and unironically likes things simply because they bring her joy and that’s TOTALLY not a Gen-X thing.

Point is: generations are somewhat amorphous and difficult to peg. Major League Baseball thinks it has a way of getting to a specific generation, however. Via a new TV show:

Today, AwesomenessTV and Major League Baseball announced that their new scripted series “Out of My League” will premiere on September 19th on AwesomenessTV. The series features an all-star cast featuring Lauren Elizabeth Luthringshausen (3M fans) and Brian Redmon (654K fans) with Caeli Santa Olalla (16.9M fans) and Ryan Abe (857K fans). Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star center fielder, Joc Pederson (439K fans) also makes a special appearance.

Shot in and around legendary Dodger Stadium, “Out of My League” follows Claire (Luthringshausen), a die-hard Dodgers fan visiting her dad in LA for the summer, and Chase (Redmon), a surfer who knows little about baseball. Claire is doing a good job avoiding distractions while spending her days at the ballpark rooting on her team, until she meets Chase and both of their worlds are turned upside down.

“We produce premium content that engages our Gen Z audience, and partnering with MLB gave us the opportunity to make stories with the themes this audience cares about in the iconic setting of America’s pastime, “said Paul Kelly, Chief Partnerships Officer at AwesomenessTV.  “‘Out of My League’ brings a new perspective of the baseball experience to this audience, whether they are established supporters of teams or new baseball fans.”

The trailer is below.

Full disclosure: “AwesomenessTV” is, apparently, partially owned by NBC’s parent company, Comcast, even if I’ve never heard of it before. I have heard of Major League Baseball and will grant that (a) this show is not aimed at me, it’s aimed at “Generation Z,” which I assume is what my daughter’s generation is; and (b) a show like this may be better received by those types than yet another appearance of Fallout Boy playing a three-year-old song before the All-Star Game is, so good for Major League Baseball for making an effort.

Which is to say, hey, whatever works. Beyond Joc Pederson’s leaden acting in the trailer (should’ve gotten Puig for that part!), your appreciation for it will likely be directly proportional to how close you are to being the target audience: