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

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Ian Desmond taunts Bryce Harper over the Cowboys loss

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Despite playing in Washington, Bryce Harper is a big Dallas Cowboys fan. I was informed by people who do silly things like watch football that the Cowboys were beat by the Redskins last night in somewhat improbable fashion. So Nats shortstop Ian Desmond decided to tweet at his teammate:

I always appreciate some trolling. But it is sad that, after tonight or tomorrow night, the only thing baseball players will have to do until February is watch football and talk smack to one another.

Jake Peavy’s son says his dad will buy a trolley car if the Giants win the Series

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Last year, after the Sox won the Series, Jake Peavy bought a Duck Boat. You know, one of those amphibious vehicles used for Boston tourism and in which the Red Sox ride for the World Series parade. People had joked that this year, if the Giants win the Series, Peavy might buy one of the iconic San Francisco trolley cars. Yesterday, Peavy’s son — a fifth grader — blabbed that they had already picked one out:

“We kicked around some options on some memorabilia possibly to take home to commemorate this,” Peavy said, “if we are fortunate enough to make it happen.”

That would have sufficed if his son, seated next to him on the podium, had kept his mouth shut.

“We picked out a trolley car,” Wyatt said, quietly.

“I’ll get into that if and when this thing happens,” Jake said, laughing.

“I think we already picked out our trolley car,” Wyatt said, loudly.

While some may call that premature or an act of hubris, I have nothing but sympathy for Peavy here. My daughter is in the fifth grade and I too was undermined by her in such a fashion. A month ago, I was in negotiations to buy my new house. It’s in the same neighborhood as my old one, and after I had looked at it for a second time, my daughter rode her bike by it and told the owner, who was sitting on the front porch, that her dad was definitely buying the house and, by the way, she had already picked out which room was hers.

Peavy may be accused by some of putting the cart before the horse. I probably ended up paying too much for my house due to a compromised negotiating position. In both cases, we can blame a ten-year-old.

World Series Reset: The Giants are on the brink of history

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The Game: World Series Game 6. Giants lead Royals, 3-2
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Channel: Fox
The Starters: Jake Peavy vs. Yordano Ventura
The Upshot: It’s do or die time for the Royals. The first time that has been true since the Wild Card game four weeks ago. And the man they are sending out to save their season? A rookie. A very good rookie who throws 100 miles per hour and who is the absolute best choice for them tonight, but a rookie all the same. It’s not the sort of thing you’ve seen happen a lot in Major League Baseball history. The last time the Royals faced a Game 6 elimination? 1985. But Don Denkinger is not walking through that door tonight. The Royals will need to create their own magic. Or just follow recent trends: Eight of the last 10 World Series teams to come home trailing 3-2 swept Games 6 and 7.

For the Giants, all they need is a spilt. But they’d just like to put it away tonight. And the longer arc of history favors them: of the 41 times a series has gone 2-2 in its first four games, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win 27 of those times. Jake Peavy is on the hill. It didn’t go so well for him last time: Peavy took the loss in Game 2, giving up four runs and six hits in five innings.

Most games in this series have not been close. If that pattern holds, we’ll know if the Giants will pop champagne corks before 10pm tonight. If not, we’ll have plenty of time to clear our schedules for tomorrow night’s Game 7.

It’s OK, Kansas City, you won’t see Madison Bumgarner again. Probably.

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KANSAS CITY — I’m in Kansas City for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7. I have a couple of hours before workouts and the generally superficial press conferences and things of a World Series off-day. In the meantime, I grabbed lunch.

At the table behind me, an obviously serious baseball fan was talking to his friend who, from the sounds of it, is not a big fan but who, like so many in a World Series city, are on the bandwagon. The fan was explaining the idea of pitcher rest to the non-fan.

Guy 1: “These days starting pitchers usually pitch on four days rest. If they ever pitch on less than four days rest, it’s three. That’s called ‘short rest.’ Starters never pitch on less than three.”

Guy 2: “OK.”

Guy 1: “So, if he were to pitch tomorrow it’d be on one day rest. If there’s a game Wednesday, it’d be two days rest. So we’re probably not going to have to see him again. Probably.”

The tone of it all was clearly an exercise in anxiety abatement from one Royals fan to another, less serious Royals fan whose biggest exposure to baseball in his life is 40% full of Madison Bumgarner nightmares. But even the hardcore fan was shaken. Getting mowed down like that is kind of traumatic. So traumatic I didn’t have the heart to interject and say “well, you know, since it’d be a World Series-clinching game, it’s not crazy to think he’d throw an inning or two of relief if need be  . . .”

That little bit of anxiety aside, you get the sense that Kansas City is enjoying the hell out of this. From the blue fountains to the hotel and restaurant clerks all wearing Royals gear to the signs everywhere, there is a general excitement around. Not that there wasn’t excitement in San Francisco a couple of years ago or Boston and St. Louis last year, but this is the first city I’ve been to in my brief experience of covering the World Series where the experience is novel. You want to be happy for them, even if they’re all suffering from Post Traumatic Bumgarner Disorder.

Oh, and because people keep asking me about where I’m eating while I’m here, my first meal in Kansas City was a big salad with blueberries, hearts of palm and all kinds of healthy crap in it. Call it an act of defiance. For the past three weeks, every single baseball writer and baseball fan I follow on Twitter has evangelized about K.C. barbecue as if they were the first ones to discover it. It’s much the way baseball writers talk about Bruce Springsteen: as if he were some obscure indy artist and, really dudes, you should try to check him out if you can find his stuff anyplace. I love Springsteen. I love barbecue for that matter. But let’s not act like they are things one needs to be hipped to.

Not that I’m gonna be a total jerkface about it. I may very well go and grab some Oklahoma Joe’s this evening on the way back from Kauffman. Then tomorrow night we’ll watch those pitchers throw those speedballs by people. Make them look like a fool.

It’s possible that some are overstating the impact of Joe Maddon opting out

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The Joe Maddon opt-out news is obviously a big deal, and talk about him and where he may go is going to dominate the discourse for a while. But I feel like maybe the magnitude of all of this is being a bit overstated this afternoon.

Joe Maddon is a fine manager. I’d hire him in a second if he were available. He is a good tactician. He plays well with his front office but doesn’t just follow their orders. He has shown that he can win with kids and with payroll limitations. And unless I’m forgetting some major incident, he does what I think is the most important thing a manager does in keeping things, generally speaking, on an even keel over the course of a long season. The Rays did well with Maddon and whoever hires him is going to do pretty well too.

But Maddon is not some messiah. He lost 101 games his first year with the Rays and 96 his second. Why? Because the Rays stunk. As the team got better he won more, as they got hurt or lost key players, he lost more. Such is the way of the world. A manager can mess up a game or two here or there but, for the most part, a really good one or a really bad one is only worth a handful of wins one way or another. The players matter way, way more. If you add a big slugger who can take a walk and a good manager, the slugger is gonna make a much bigger difference.

Which makes these sorts of comments seem overblown to me:

Add to that sort of sentiment the widespread sentiment among fans I’ve seen claiming that the Rays are about ready to go into the toilet and, from fans of teams like the Mets, Dodgers and Cubs, salivating at the chance to hire Maddon.

He’d be a good hire for anyone. And sure, the Rays are entering into a period of transition. But Maddon is not a miracle worker. He’s just a manager. And the Rays are not going to shutter the organization just because they lost a general manager and a manager. It has happened before, believe it or not. Even when big, famous and well-thought-of guys took jobs elsewhere.