Craig Calcaterra

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Craig Kimbrel is messing with a changeup


Braves closer Craig Kimbrel throws ungodly heat and has a slider that makes hitters look positively dumb. Your mileage may vary between him and Aroldis Chapman as the most dominant closers in the game, but it’s safe to say that what he has done to the opposition over the past couple of years seems pretty unfair sometimes.

Which makes this seem positively obscene:

Melvin Upton Jr. looked at almost every Kimbrel pitch without swinging, not an uncommon approach when facing Kimbrel on Day 1. Meanwhile, Braves newcomer Jonny Gomes swung at some Kimbrel offerings and missed a few, including one that appeared to be a … changeup? From Kimbrel? The guy with high-90s fastball and devastating slider?

Fredi Gonzalez speculates that Kimbrel is just messing with it and isn’t sure how often he’ll use the changeup in actual games. And Mark Bowman of just tweeted that Kimbrel has experimented with changeups in spring training in the past (I don’t remember this, but I don’t really pay attention to spring training experiments either). But boy howdy, if Kimbrel does use a changeup and if it’s even halfway decent, he should be prosecuted for war crimes.

Report: Josh Hamilton could get a suspension of “at least 25 games”

Josh Hamilton

Fox’s Jon Morosi reports that Major League Baseball is weighing what to do with Josh Hamilton in light of his relapse and that it is considering a suspension of “at least 25 games but less than a full season.”

That said, Rob Manfred is not close to a decision, Morosi reports, and that he and the league is mindful of the complexities of Hamilton’s addiction and wants to be “compassionate.” Specifically:

Manfred and other league officials have a favorable view of Hamilton’s efforts to remain sober, including compliance with MLB-mandated drug tests (three each week) for nearly nine years. He made five All-Star teams during that time, all while speaking honestly to baseball fans and the greater public about his struggle with addiction.

With the points I made about Hamilton and punitive action yesterday in mind, this nonetheless seems wise to me. Maybe not the suspension part — we’ll wait and see what that looks like and how it’s crafted before talking too much about that — but at least with the league’s consideration of Hamilton’s circumstances.

There is no rush here — it’s spring training and Hamilton is out of commission following surgery anyway — so there is no need to do anything immediately. Good for Manfred for not handling this like he would some minor leaguer who was busted for smoking some pot.

Wanna hear Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig attempt a comedy routine?

Ruth Gehrig


I’ve heard Babe Ruth’s voice a few times in various movie clips, radio spots and the like. But outside of his famous luckiest man on the face of the Earth speech — and really, most of have heard Gary Cooper do that more often — I hadn’t heard Lou Gehrig’s voice all that much. I assume more audio of him exists than I know of, but I just haven’t heard it nor, do I suspect, have a lot of folks.

All of which makes this video — well, video clip of audio — that Buster Olney tweeted out this morning pretty cool. It’s Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig bantering following the 1927 season. Give a listen to “Babe and Lou: The Home Run Twins”:


“Moneyball War I” is over. Now “Moneyball War II” is being fought

Charles Barkley

This article by Bryan Curtis of Grantland jumps off from Charles Barkley ripping analytics as useless and its adherents as nerds, but it expands to a broader point that applies to all sports, especially and maybe even primarily to baseball.

The idea: the battle to convince the media and people who run teams that advanced metrics and analytics are useful is over. Has been for a while, actually. Yes there are some dinosaurs, but they stick out like sore thumbs and are clearly not a part of the mainstream.

What’s not over, though is the friction between athletes and the media over who has standing to pass judgment on their sports. Who has the authority to decide who is good, who is bad and why. Sportswriters never played the game, the athlete may think, and thus he or she can’t judge me. Athletes don’t know the stats, the sportswriter may think, so he’s deluded. This friction has played out in one way or another pretty often lately. Curtis explains its roots and the parameters of it all.

For what it’s worth, I think that maybe it’s less of a war than it is a language barrier. There is an anecdote in the middle of the story about a reporter talking to Dwayne Wade and how, putting a question to him in one way was very productive and illuminating whereas putting the question to him a different way would not have been. That’s not a philosophical difference. That’s just about communication and not, you know, being a rude asshole. But there are so many layers of habits, egos and bits of information floating around, it’s not always clear to the people involved when they’re being rude or obstinate or what have you.

Speaking of all of those things, I am quoted a few times in the story. But don’t let that dissuade you from what is a really excellent read.

What’s driving the A-Rod media circus? The media, of course.

Alex Rodriguez AP

This tweet from Bob Nightengale pretty much sums up the state of the world in Tampa at the moment:

Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez has taken batting practice, done some drills and signed some autographs and there have been no incidents or controversies involving him or his teammates whatsoever. But I guess that stuff is kind of boring.

I love the A-Rod insanity, obviously. More, please! But man, if it was my job to exclusively cover the New York Yankees, I feel like maybe I’d have been able to find some other angle by now.