<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Helen Lovejoy

A-Rod has taught our children to lie. Seriously, someone just wrote that.


This is amazing. In 2014, people are still writing “won’t someone think of the children?!” articles.


Note: that picture is from 2007. Which, yes, it sort of has to be given that no impressionable kid seriously looks up to Alex Rodriguez as the sort of role model this writer portrays him to be anymore. Why? Partially because most parents who like baseball and share it with their kids aren’t so messed up as to hold a guy like Rodriguez (or any ballplayer, if the parent is wise) up as a role model for their kids.

But mostly because kids aren’t idiots who look back to what is, for them, ancient history for sports role models.

A-Rod is 39-years-old. His last full, good season was in 2010. His last season when it could be fairly said that he was a big, big baseball star based on his on-the-field exploits was 2009, and even then he was tainted in the public eye. His last season as an actual, on-the-field superstar without serious controversy about him was 2007. He’s been famous forever, of course, but kids don’t read the papers and sports blogs like we do. If they pay attention to the game, they look to the big, exciting and mostly young superstars. They ask their parents “who is the best baseball player?” That sure as hell hasn’t been A-Rod for a while, and if you’re telling your kid that, cut it out.

My son is nine. He got mildly into baseball a couple of years ago, when A-Rod was an injured non-factor for the Yankees in the 2012 playoffs. He got a lot more into it this year. If you ask him who the big stars are, he says Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Aroldis Chapman. Why? Because he has either seen them play (a big factor for Puig, Kershaw an Chapman in his mind) or asked me who the best baseball players are. A-Rod won his last MVP when my son was still in diapers. He may as well be Tris Speaker to the boy. So, no, A-Rod is not doing anything to harm the children. Unless the children are reading the New York Daily News, and God, if that’s happening you have bigger problems.

Of course the biggest reason of all that this is a silly tack is evident from a simple read through. This writer’s argument is, literally and without irony, that “Rodriguez, Braun and all others who have failed to accept responsibility for injecting and ingesting PEDs have passed along that philosophy to impressionable youth.” He actually says “it’s a shame,” and claims that these baseball players have taught our children to lie:

It is the A-Rod Complex — a complete and total rejection of accountability. For every action there is no reaction except for denial.

“I didn’t do it.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“I swear I didn’t do it.”

Because no kid had ever claimed “I didn’t do it” in the face of obvious guilt until recently. That sort of thing was invented by Alex Rodriguez in the spring of 2009.

America’s sports writers: still failing to get a grip.

“If The Boss Was Still Alive” Watch: George wouldn’t have put up with this A-Rod nonsense!

George Steinbrenner AP

Every time a New York columnist has nothing new or original to say about the Yankees, he or she will write an “if The Boss was still alive” column, channeling the glory days of George Steinbrenner for some easy, lazy fodder. It is important to note that the people who do this tend to be writers whose own glory days happen to correspond with those of George Steinbrenner. Here at HardballTalk, we chronicle this meme in an effort to protect the legacy and memory of the dearly departed.  Or something.

Bill Madden of the Daily News knows just what The Boss would do if he was alive for this latest A-Rod business:

If George were alive, you can be sure he would be doing everything in his power to get retribution for the $275 million contract A-Rod signed with the Yankees under false pretenses in 2007 — as well as for everything he has done to besmirch and embarrass the Yankees.

Which is amazing considering George did exactly that once. Except the player was Dave Winfield, the contract was a lot smaller and “everything in his power” included hiring a scumbag to dig up dirt on Winfield on an effort to void his deal. For his troubles, Steinbrenner was banned for life from running the Yankees. You can say what you want about George Steinbrenner, but you can’t say he was a dumb man. I feel like, if an 84-year-old George Steinbrenner was still in charge, he maybe would’ve realized that doing something different was in order. But what do I know?

Also rich from Madden is this:

Even though it was probably a long shot given the sacrosanct nature of guaranteed major league contracts, I never understood why the Yankees didn’t at least broach the prospect with MLB of getting the contract voided when, six months after signing the 10-year deal — which included all those bonus clauses for various home run milestones en route to A-Rod someday surpassing Barry Bonds as the supposed “clean” all-time home run champion — he admitted to having used steroids from 2001-2003 with the Texas Rangers.

Saying he doesn’t understand why the Yankees didn’t try to void A-Rod’s contract in 2009 is a brave admission of ignorance on Madden’s part. Most baseball writers would hide the fact that they do not fully know why a team didn’t do something that (a) was legally impossible; (b) would be massively expensive and distracting; and (c) would, at the time, be profoundly contrary to their team’s interests. But Madden is brave in this regard. I hope such bravery catches on. Perhaps we’ll then have political reporters saying they don’t understand why there can’t be a presidential election in 2015 and science reporters saying they don’t understand why the sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth.

Part of me wishes that a Spink Award-winning lead baseball columnist of one of the largest daily newspapers in the country would actually put a controversy in its proper context and explain to readers the realities, challenges and consequences of a given situation. But another part of me is glad he doesn’t do that. Because if he did, we’d have one less running feature here at HardballTalk. And running features are the best.

Pete Orr signs with the Brewers

Brewers logo

I haven’t thought about Pete Orr in a long time. But, apparently, he’s still alive and playing baseball:

Orr spent all of 2014 in Triple-A with the Brewers in Nashville. Now he gets to spend it, presumably, at Triple-A with the Brewers in Colorado Springs. A handy guy to have around for depth, I suppose.

Great Moments in Government Ethics: Cobb County, Georgia Edition

Braves ballpark


We’ve noted before that Tim Lee, the chairman of the Cobb County, Georgia Commission, is in ethical hot water because he apparently bypassed some laws in his effort to lure the Braves out of Atlanta. Shocking, I know, that a politician would do such a thing when trying to lure a professional sports team.

But even better than his apparent skirting of ethics laws in doing so is his defense against the ethics charges he now faces. As the Marietta Daily Journal reports, his response to the ethics complaint filed against him is  . . . well, special:

The motion to reconsider, filed by Freeman Mathis & Gary attorney David Cole on Tuesday, states Lee “respectfully submits the board’s decision to schedule this complaint for a hearing was in error,” because the portion of the county’s ethics code the board used in its decision “cannot be a basis for discipline.”

The portion of the ethics code in question states government officials “by their conduct should avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

Cole argues the use of the word “should,” as opposed to “shall” or “must,” means the portion of the code is not a mandatory standard of conduct, but rather an “advisory statement.”

Got that? He’s saying “The law just says I should avoid impropriety. Not that I, you know, have to.”

A good chunk of my legal career was spent defending crooked politicians in front of the Ohio Ethics Commission. I will humbly submit that, even though government ethics commissions often lack teeth, if I had made such an argument in front of them they would’ve laughed my butt out of the building.

In any event, here’s to the eternal chutzpah of politicians who think giving handouts to billionaires and corporations so that they can profit more on their already insanely profitable sports teams is a good idea.

Hiroki Kuroda is considering . . . um, everything

Hiroki Kuroda

I post this not because it is news, but because it is a good reminder that, in the offseason, one must read reporters breaking “news” closely to make sure it actually, you know, means a dang thing:

He needed a “source” to tell him that.

Not that this is not valuable. I mean, we now know that Kuroda is not planning a career in ice dancing, championship dressage or attempting to qualify for the lumberjack world championships (to be held in Heyward, Wisconsin on July 23-25, 2015).

Good to know.