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

Kauffman Stadium

Kauffman Stadium is really cool. Because it’s a stadium, not a ballpark.

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KANSAS CITY — File this under “deep thoughts,” but Kauffman Stadium is really cool.

I’d been here a couple of times before. My first experience was actually for a high school game back in 2003. I was driving across the country and when I passed through Kansas City the stadium lights were on. I was curious because I knew the Royals were out of town playing Cleveland that day, so I got off I-70 to check it out. You could walk right in for free and there were only a few hundred people watching the high schoolers. I sat behind home plate for a while. In the space of two innings I think there were, like, seven doubles hit because of the alleys. If you were a lazy scout just looking at box scores you may have overvalued what these kids were doing.

My major league experience here came in 2008, when I was in Kansas City for lawyer man business. I saw two games of a three-game series here. The Royals stunk — not a 100-loss team or anything, but not good — and it wasn’t hard to get good seats. I sweated like crazy and watched bad baseball, but bad baseball is better than good most anything else.

I can’t put my finger on what I like about this place so much. It’s out at a freeway exit, surrounded by parking lots, not in the middle of the city like so many of the best ballparks are. It’s got no dramatic sightlines. Beyond the outfield walls is I-70, some budget motels and a gas station. Indeed, the best view at Kauffman Stadium is INTO the place from I-70. It’s actually pretty dramatic, as the stadium is below the surrounding grade, so you can see lots of stuff. I wonder if there are a lot of fender benders out there during games.

What I think I like so much about it is that it’s not a ballpark. It’s a stadium. It is not trying to evoke the past. It is not trying to blend in with surrounding warehouses. It is unapologetically a building in which sports are supposed to be played. And it’s of a time — the 1970s — when no one shied away from poured concrete and modernism. That approach often resulted in ugly, messed up places in the form of bad multi-purpose stadiums. But with Kauffman, they just looked into what they thought was the future and forged ahead. Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973. By 1974 the country was fully in the grips of nostalgia and would not look so steadfastly forward again for a long time. If it ever would.

It helps that they have maintained the place and, though it regrettably used taxpayer dollars to do it, upgrade it as time has gone on. The fountains are expanded and the scoreboard is bigger, but it’s still the same place, more or less. It still has big tall light towers that aren’t supposed to look like smokestacks or something. It has blue seats because, dammit, that’s the team color, and why should they have green anyway? It’s sleek and swooping and, for the most part, no one has tried to hide all of the poured concrete.

It’s a gorgeous stadium.

Ned Yost is willing to stretch his bullpen tonight

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 3.22.36 PM
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KANSAS CITY — Ned Yost is determined not to Yost it up tonight. He just got done telling the media that “If we’ve gotta use Herrera for six outs, we will. If we’ve gotta use Davis for six outs, we will.”

No mention of using Greg Holland longer, but one hopes an extra inning is on the table for him too. Yost and the Royals are literally in the position of there being no tomorrow. His hook on Yordano Ventura should be quick. And if he gets through, say, three innings, there should be no other pitcher in this game besides the Royals’ big three. Maybe even if he gets through two.

It’s been 29 years. You may never get back again. If you’re gonna die anyway, make sure you fire all your bullets before they kill ya, Ned.

Baseball — and the American Character — is dying, you guys

Tombstone
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There is no truth to the rumor that Dave Bry of The Guardian wrote this at my prodding in order to give me something new and over-the-top to rail against. Though, really, I would totally understand the accusation because this is so far over the top it’s looking down on satellites in geosynchronous orbit:

Long considered the country’s “national pastime”, baseball reflects the very best qualities of the American spirit, the higher values upon which our society was (theoretically, at least) founded: freedom, independence, tolerance. Football is a violent, territorial sport that rewards brute strength over everything else and symbolises, at its base level, imperialism, bloodlust, and corporate capitalism’s tendency to flatten any and all eccentricity into bland, cog-in-the-machine homogeny.

Sadly, it’s more than clear at this point that Americans don’t much like baseball anymore, at least compared to how much we like football.

This is a deep – and worsening – flaw in our collective character, as telling a sign of American decline as our terrible math skills, our tragic and preventable high infant mortality rate or the depreciation of our GDP vis-a-vis China.

I think the most ironic thing about that is that a guy who decries corporatism, imperialism, capitalism, bloodlust and all sorts of other awful things cites television ratings as the sine qua non of the U.S. character. Because TV ratings are obviously where virtue lies.

In other news, someone needs to get Dave Bry up to speed about U.S. culture, because this has been a football country for at least 45 years. Maybe longer. All of which is crazy because I’m pretty sure Bry is an American and he should know such things.

Driving in the Dominican Republic is extremely dangerous

Oscar Taveras
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In the wake of the death of Oscar Taveras, Vice’s Jorge Arangure writes about just how dangerous it is to drive in the Dominican Republic:

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on driving fatalities around the world in which the Dominican ranked as the deadliest country in the world for motor-vehicle related deaths. A stunning 41.7 deaths per year per 100,000 people occur in the Dominican.

The world average is 18 deaths per 100,000. Over a 70-year life span, Arangure notes, people in the Dominican Republic one a 1 in 480 chance of dying in an automobile accident.

Arangure writes about the reasons for all of this and how devastating it can be to a ballplayer’s family to lose him in such tragic circumstances. And, of course, driving is not the only peril faced by ballplayers from Latin America. Not by a long shot.

Max Scherzer bought Brayan Pena a Rolex

Max Scherzer Getty
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Max Scherzer won the Cy Young Award last year. And he gave a gift to one of his catchers. Even though the catcher doesn’t play for the Tigers anymore:

Gosh, I remember being that happy when I got MY first Rolex.

The story behind it is here.