Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Ubaldo Jimenez becomes a U.S. citizen


Over the years we’ve made frequent note of major leaguers from other countries becoming U.S. citizens. Jose Fernandez did a year ago last April. Back in November 2012 Robinson Cano was naturalized. Orlando Cabrera did in May 2011. I’m sure we’ve missed many, but if we see the news of it, we like to do a quick blurb about it. It’s fun and cool. And, for the players becoming U.S. citizens, it represents a huge life event. Happy day!

Yesterday  Ubaldo Jimenez of the Baltimore Orioles became a citizen. Congratulations Ubaldo!

Of course, it’s an election year and one of the candidates in the election has placed immigration at the top of his agenda. As such, the relatively common occurrence of a baseball player becoming a citizen became the focus of both ignorance and ugliness. Check out the replies to the Orioles’ seemingly non-controversial tweet:


Jimenez has played professional baseball in the United States since 2002. He’s made at least six figures a year doing it since 2006 and a million dollars or more a year doing it since 2010. I suspect Jimenez has paid more in taxes in the last few months than this person has or will in their lifetime. But hey, don’t let a common slur against immigrants — that they’re freeloaders — go unspoken!

Then there’s this stuff:



The anti-immigrant sentiment which litters that whole thread is not something new, of course. Such ugliness comes and goes throughout history. Immigrants have been subject to it for a couple of centuries now. It’s as inevitable as tomorrow’s sunrise.

As is the dehumanization involved in all of this. To these jackwagons, Jimenez is not a human being with dreams and desires. He’s some monster politicians have convinced so many people to see when considering an immigrant, especially these days. At least if they aren’t being useful to them by taking some job thought to be beneath them. Or, say, winning a bunch of baseball games.

Great Moments in Baseball’s dumb honor culture

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For the past seven years I’ve been rolling my eyes, in writing anyway, at baseball’s unwritten rules and its hilariously complicated and, often, contradictory standards of decorum. There may be some consistency about when it’s OK to celebrate/be angry, when it’s not OK to celebrate/be angry and who, actually, has standing to celebrate/be angry, but if there is any it has eluded description. These guys just seem to make it all up based on who has a case of the redass at any given time and then claim, in hindsight, that there are traditions and rules behind it. Hey, it’s their sport. They can do what they wanna.

A new wrinkle was added to the Grand Conversation last night: getting upset about an unwritten rule being violated because you had no idea what was actually going on.

It happened in the Jays-Rays game. The Rays’ Steven Souza ended the game with a long flyout that he stood and admired because he thought it was a homer. When he realized it wasn’t he offered apologetic words to Jays catcher Russell Martin, who he thought was criticizing him for admiring his shot. Turns out Martin wasn’t mad at all. Indeed, he thought it was a homer too and was agreeing with Souza about being deceived. Souza just couldn’t hear Martin due to the crowd noise.

Over at shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who could not have possibly heard the conversation, assumed that Souza and Martin were arguing about the ethics of shot-admiring and started barking at Souza, causing benches to clear and people to act chippy, even if nothing came of it. It’s unclear whether or not Tulo himself thought Souza was admiring his shot too long or if, rather, he was merely trying to protect his teammate’s back in an argument. It’s unclear because Tulo didn’t talk to reporters after the game, leaving that to Martin. Which is itself an unwritten rules violation, I am told, but we’ll leave that slide.

All of which makes for a perfect microcosm of the unwritten rules and baseball’s dumb honor culture:

1. Be humble lest you make someone mad; but

2. Sometimes, being celebratory isn’t going to make anyone mad, you never know!;

3. Have your teammate’s back, no matter what you know of the situation and no matter how dumb doing so makes you look; and

4. Be accountable and talk to the press about the bad thing you did, unless you don’t want to, and then it’s probably OK. At least if you’re not the sort of player people are mad at for other stuff or if they generally think you’re an OK guy.

This isn’t that hard people!

(h/t Big League Stew)

Dodgers fans took over Yankee Stadium last night


Yankees fans in the right field bleachers usually do a “roll call” of the Yankees’ lineup. They chant the Yankees players names, the player gives a hat tip or a wave or something and then they move on.

Last night in the Bronx, however, it was the visiting club’s fans who performed a roll call. One louder than the one performed by the home team. And they unfurled that big Dodgers flag seen above as well:


The Dodgers have not played in Yankee Stadium very much. Must either be a tour group or the children and grandchildren of old Brooklyn people who inherited the Dodgers fandom via osmosis or something.

They went home — or to their hotels — happy. Dodgers beat the Yankees handily.