Author: Craig Calcaterra

Busch Stadium

There was some racist ugliness outside Busch Stadium last night


There have been many occasions when protesters have taken their protests to high-profile sporting events that are either related to or at least nearby the basis of the protest. It makes sense. Protesters want their protest to be visible, so you go where the people are whom you want to reach and where there are a lot of cameras so that your protest can be seen. It was no different last night in St. Louis, where people protesting the shooting death of Mike Brown and the subsequent events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri set up outside of Busch Stadium.

The racial undertones of the Brown shooting and the immediate aftermath are unmistakable. And they revealed themselves again at Busch Stadium, as several people, apparently Cardinals fans going to the game, engaged in some counter-protesting that was, quite frankly, ugly.

Deadspin has the whole rundown, including a lengthy video of the events. Among the lowlights: people calling the protesters — who were black — “crack heads,” another chanting “Africa! Africa! Africa!” at them, saying that they should get jobs and telling the black protesters that “We’re the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have!” It was odious.

I understand if various people see the world and the events in Ferguson differently than I do, this person, that person or the next person does. But when you see stuff like this, don’t even think of saying “race has nothing to do with it” or accusing those who have a problem with what went down there with “playing the race card” or whatever such nonsense people bring up in order to avoid the conclusion that, yep, race has an awful lot to do with it.

Deep Thoughts: Down 2-1 edition

clayton kershaw getty

Here’s about the shallowest of deep thoughts: the Dodgers are down 2-1 and I feel like they’re sorta screwed. The Nationals are down 2-1 and I feel like they’re in great position.

Mostly because of pitching matchups. Normally a 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Greinke seems unbeatable, but due to Kershaw being on short rest and the certainty that at some point, be it today or on Thursday, Don Mattingly will have to use his bullpen again — combined with what people on Twitter are aptly calling “The Cardinals Devil Magic” — I don’t feel like I’d put a ton of dough on Los Angeles right now.

Meanwhile, with Ryan Vogelsong on the hill, you have to like Washington’s chances today. They haven’t named their would-be Game 5 starter — the Giants would trot out Jake Peavy — but whether it’s Strasburg or Zimmermann or some all-in sort of thing, they’d have a lot of arms available for a Thursday game.

Do not, by any stretch of the imagination, mistake this for analysis. It’s just fan-centric gut feeling stuff. And it’s part of what makes the playoffs so fun, frustrating, unpredictable and tense.

Matt Kemp calls out umpire Dale Scott’s strike zone. Did he have a point?

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.01.04 AM

source: AP

Home plate umpire Dale Scott did not make any friends on the Dodgers last night, calling what they thought to be an extremely generous strike zone when L.A. batters were at the plate. After the game lots of Dodgers players and manager Don Mattingly noted the difficult strike zone in more or less diplomatic terms. Matt Kemp, however, was less than diplomatic. When he struck out in the ninth inning he got face-to-face with Scott. His comments after the game:

“Terrible. Terrible strike zone. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s disappointing because you’ve got guys out there battling. You know, this is two good teams going at it, and it’s supposed to be the teams, not the umpire, and I just feel like the umpire took the bat out of our hands today. He had a very generous strike zone. It’s hard to face good pitching when you’ve got a guy throwing a ball in the other batter’s box, and it’s called strikes.”

He may get a fine for that. But does he have a point? Let’s go to Dan Brooks’ Strike Zone Map.

First, the called strikes against left handed hitters. This is from the umpire’s perspective. Red dots were called strikes, green dots were called balls. Squares are for Cardinals hitters, triangles are for when Dodgers hitters were up. The solid black square is the regulation strike zone. The dashed square are what umpires typically call in reality:



Lefties didn’t have a terrible go of it. Yes, some outsides pitches called for strikes, but within typical umpire variation. And if anything Cardinals lefties had more calls go against them to the outside, possibly because A.J. Ellis was framing better than Yadier Molina, possibly because Dodgers pitchers were more consistently throwing out there.

Now for righties. Same deal:


It’s pretty clear that when righties were up — and Kemp is a righty — that pitchers were getting a LOT of calls on the outside. And unless my eyes are deceiving me, it looks like Cards righty batters had more bad calls go against them on the outside than Dodgers hitters.

But did Matt Kemp have a particularly bad time with Scott? Seems so. He struck out looking in the ninth prior to his argument. Check out strike two and strike three, ball two and strike three which are pitches 4 and 5, basically on top of each other:


He certainly had a right to be mad about those particular pitches being called differently. Ultimately, however, no team has ever gotten anywhere complaining about the strike zone. The Dodgers need to suck it up and avoid elimination tonight. Getting better bullpen work would help them with that more than going after the men in blue.

Playoff Reset: The Dodgers and Nationals backs are against the wall

Ryan Vogelsong

source: AP

The Giants and Dodgers let games get away from them yesterday with bad decisions and bad bullpens, respectively. The Giants can still put Washington away today. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have the Dodgers’ backs against the wall. But while both L.A. and the Nats face elimination, each have hope based on the starting pitching matchups. The Dodgers because they have Clayton Kershaw going. The Nats because the Giants have pretty much the polar opposite of Clayton Kershaw going. Both series could end tonight or everyone could live on to play another day. I feel like we’re going to be playing another day in both cases.

The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, National League Division Series Game 4
The Time: 5:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Clayton Kershaw vs. Shelby Miller
The Upshot: The decision to pitch Clayton Kershaw on short rest seems like and even better one now than it did yesterday. Sure, he may not have his usual amount of stamina, but there is no better way for Don Mattingly to avoid his bullpen than to get a lot of innings from the best pitcher in baseball. Of course, last time out Kershaw tuckered out, abandoned his curve and melted down. Either way, the Dodgers would probably rather take their chances with his arm than with the guys down in that pen. For what it’s worth, Kershaw is 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in three career starts on three-days rest. The Cardinals, meanwhile, counter with Shelby Miller, who is working on two-weeks’ rest. It’s his first career playoff start.

The Game: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants, National League Division Series Game 4
The Time: 9:07 PM Eastern
The Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
The Channel: Fox Sports 1
The Starters: Gio Gonzalez vs. Ryan Vogelsong
The Upshot: Runs continue to come at a premium this series, with the Nationals’ breakthrough yesterday coming as a result of Madison Bumgarner’s curious decision to throw to third rather than first on a Wilson Ramos bunt, leading to all the runs the Nats would eventually need. In Gonzalez, the Nats have a guy going who was pretty hot down the stretch, putting up a 4-1 record with a 2.36 ERA in his last seven starts of the year. Such is not the case for the shaky Ryan Vogelsong. One gets the sense that the Giants have ridden him too long based on his nice run in 2011-12. On paper anyway, he may be the worst starter we’ve seen in the postseason thus far. The Nats, particularly, have feasted on him. He’s 1-2 with a 7.94 ERA in five career starts versus Washington. This year against the Nats he’s allowed nine runs and 13 hits over 11 and a third innings across two outings.

The playoffs continue to get good ratings so far this year

old TV

The latest from the folks at MLB:

The action on the field is once again leading to strong TV viewership. The Royals’ 8-3 win over the Angels on Sunday drew 4.4 million viewers on TBS, an increase of +29% over the comparable game last year, while the Orioles’ 2-1 win over the Tigers earlier in the day drew 3.3 million viewers on TBS, up +14% over its comparable game last year. Overall, the MLB Postseason as a whole is averaging 3.6 million viewers, an increase of +9% over last year to make it the most-watched MLB Postseason since 2010. In addition, viewership among the 18-34 audience is up +19% over last year through this point.

The younger demographic increases most likely please the folks on Park Avenue. Baseball may not be dying, but one of its bigger problems is viewership among the young.