Craig Calcaterra

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Congress to ban “pay for patriotism” promotions at stadiums


We have written about conspicuous displays of patriotism at ballparks many times in this space. Last year we dealt with it at length with respect to Kansas City and the World Series, noting how much the tributes to the troops, the flag, veterans and everything else has become tied up in corporate sponsorship. About how, however well-intentioned MLB’s military and veteran-related initiatives are, at some point in the past 15 years they have become rote at best, overblown and exploited by corporate interests at worst and maybe it’s time to dial it back a bit.

Against that backdrop came a story last May at about how the military actually uses tax dollars to pay for a lot of this stuff, using it as a recruitment and P.R. tool. Indeed, National Guard officials admitted that. Which, while not illegal or anything, seems manipulative as hell in that fans are clearly led to believe that these salutes to the troops and “Hometown Hero” tributes are public services by the team or, at the very least, spontaneous tributes. Which they’re clearly not. They’re advertisements.

Now, reports, Congress is looking to stamp that out:

The National Defense Authorization Act, as agreed to by congressional negotiators, would ban such activities as the “hometown heroes” promotion at New York Jets’ home games featuring members of the New Jersey Army National Guard. Overall, the Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for such promotions, dubbed as “pay for patriotism.”

The bill also seeks a study of all existing sports sponsorships and advertising deals.

Which presumably includes what the military does in baseball, NASCAR and everywhere else, be it overt or deceptive.

Now, as the postseason looms, let’s see if MLB and its clubs dial it back a bit on their own accord as well.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

Blue Jays celebration

Pirates 8, Cardinals 2; Cardinals 11, Pirates 1: With win 100, the Cards clinch. Such an odd season for them, what with key injuries and amazingly tough competition in their division yet . . . they basically led the whole way and were never seriously challenged. All of which had the effect of giving us a 100-win team that in some way doesn’t feel like 100-win teams of the past. Which is probably a good thing for the Cardinals. There are nowhere near as many people prematurely crowning them as so many good teams get prematurely crowned. I won’t go so far as to call the Cardinals underdogs — they’ll NEVER be that given their history and the whole Cardinal Nation gestalt — but they’re the closest thing to it in the public consciousness that a 100-win team can probably get.

Blue Jays 15, Orioles 2; Orioles 8, Blue Jays 1: A long time coming for the Jays — someone cue up the “this is what was happening the last time Toronto made the playoffs” listicles — but completely and utterly convincing and resounding. They were EIGHT GAMES back in late July, people. And in the space of two months they became everyone’s odds-on favorite and everyone’s most feared playoff opponent.

Twins 7, Indians 1; Indians 10, Twins 2: A big win in game one that the Twins didn’t get to savor because of a big loss in game 2. And, even with the success in the nightcap, the Indians got eliminated afterward thanks to the Astros beating the Mariners. A very “From Hell’s Heart I Stab At Thee” kind of night for everyone involved.

Athletics 8, Angels 7: I saw Barry Zito penciled in to start this one and thought how it was kinda lame that the Angels were gonna benefit from the A’s nostalgia trip for a basically dead pitcher. Then I thought “Well, that’s on the Astros and the other teams in a race with the Angels. If they had taken care of their business for the past several months they wouldn’t depend on the A’s to beat Anaheim.” Then all of those ethical calisthenics were mooted by Barry Zito being marginally effective and the Angels kicking the ball around the field like it was a little league game in May. Such is the way with ethical calisthenics a lot of the time. Actual, you know, events render them somewhat pointless.

Astros 7, Mariners 6: A nice gut-check kind of win with Houston coming back from three runs down and the bullpen hanging on, each of which were things that have been tough for them lately. With this win and the Angels’ loss the Astros move back into playoff position and control their own destiny.

Red Sox 9, Yankees 5: A four-run 11th inning meltdown prevented the Yankees from clinching their wild card spot. They still will barring a monumentally improbable series of events, but it would’ve been nice to do it at home I presume.

Phillies 7, Mets 5: The loss makes little difference for New York. The Justin De Fratus pitch that hit the left hand of Yoenis Cespedes in the top of the third inning, however, made for some serious sphincter-clenching in Queens. Cespedes seems to only have a bruise, so that’s good, even if it lingers for a bit. A break and his season would’ve been over and all of the air would’ve been sucked out of the room.

Braves 2, Nationals 0: Good to see the Nats going down fighting. It’s that dignity in the face of adversity and the knowledge that you did your best that will always stay with you, even in the face of defeat.

Cubs 10, Reds 3: Austin Jackson drove in five as the Cubs won their fourth in a row. They probably wish the playoffs started already. And not just because that would’ve technically meant that they were playing this stanky-butt Reds team in the playoffs.

Rays 6, Marlins 4: Sorry, but the next time I care about Florida baseball it’ll be because pitchers and catchers are reporting.

Rangers 6, Tigers 2: Not a bad place for the Rangers to be right now. They have to win only once in their final four games against the Los Angeles Angels to be guaranteed a playoff spot, if they win a whole bunch, they can keep the Angels out of the playoffs and if they lose a whole bunch they can really mess with the Astros. So there will be celebration and schadenfreude for Rangers fans with basically any outcome.

Royals 5, White Sox 3: Eric Hosmer hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning. They Royals, while long since having clinched, are still playing for home field advantage and with this win they clinched home-field advantage in an ALDS.

Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 1: What I said about Florida baseball above applies for Arizona baseball too.

Giants 5, Dodgers 0: L.A. wasn’t playing for anything and they probably put more effort into hangover alleviation than game prep here, but this was still a case of having their lunch handed to them as Mike Leake pitched a two-hit complete game shutout.  I wonder if folks looking over Leake’s prospectus during free agent season will remember to mentally discount this one based on the fact that it came against a Dodgers team which would probably be on shaky ground, legally speaking, if they had gotten behind the wheel of the car even this many hours after their celebration the night before.

Brewers 5, Padres 0: I won’t care about Florida or Arizona baseball until February. Feelings about San Diego baseball may take until July when the All-Star Game is played in Petco Park.

Wale will buy Jonathan Papelbon’s new house if the Nats release him

Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon bought a new house in Alexandria, Virginia recently. Just closed on it two weeks ago, actually. You can read all about it at CSN

Of course now his future in Washington is uncertain. He’s under contract for next year but given his dustup with the face of the franchise, Bryce Harper, it’s not inconceivable the Nats could try to trade him or release him or something. If so, what will he do with his new pad in Virginia?

Never fear, Wale is here:


I lived in Alexandria several years ago. Belle Haven is as boring as hell, so I have no idea why Papelbon wants to live there. I have even less of an idea why Wale would. But I guess real estate comes with its own internal logic.