Craig Calcaterra

James Shields

James Shields would prefer to pitch on the west coast


Money talks, but Ken Rosenthal reports that, all things being equal, James Shields prefers to sign with a team located on the West Coast. Shields lives in San Diego. The Giants and Padres have been connected to him, but at the moment, the scope of his market is rather unclear.

Also linked to Shields: the Tigers, Royals, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Brewers. At least a couple of those cities have direct flights to San Diego, I imagine. You know, for odd off-day and stuff.

David Price would consider a long-term extension from the Tigers

david price getty

It was reported last fall that David Price had trouble adjusting to Detroit. And he’s entering his walk year. Does that mean that Price is sure to walk? Not so fast: he made some noises yesterday about how he’ll be more comfortable with the team having gone through spring training, and suggested a future with them:

“[being in Tigers camp is] going to help a lot,” Price said. “Not just being around the big-league guys, getting to know the minor-league guys that are going to be coming up if I did sign an extension here, the guys that are coming up in a year or two years. There’s a lot of Vanderbilt guys in this organization, so that’ll be awesome to be able to know those guys.”

It’s a big year for Price. While he tossed a league-leading 248 innings with a 3.26 ERA and league-high 271 strikeouts last year, there was a sense that he underperformed after the trade. If he has a solid season, he’s right back to the top of a stocked free agent pitching market next winter. If he and/or the Tigers falter in the first half of the season, he could be trade bait.

The 2015 Braves have “gravitas” and “veteran leadership” and will have dirty uniforms. Just kill me now.

Jonny Gomes scores

This tweet came out from the Braves last night:

Then David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was talking last night about why the Braves got Jonny Gomes and Nick Markakis. And he offered some buzzwords that should make the fans of any team to which they apply shudder:

Just kill me now.

We’ve gone on about the “dirt” and “grit” and “gamer” stuff at length around these parts. It’s empty and horrible and is designed to distract fans from the fact that your team is not particularly good at baseball but, hey, they’ll look intense while losing.

Meanwhile, talking your team up for its “gravitas” and “veteran leadership” is like talking your friend’s blind date up for having “a great personality.” Sure, those things are nice, but for the purposes at hand, they are only mentioned because it cannot be truthfully said that the baseball team is good or that the blind date is physically attractive. It’s a dodge.

Personally, I like baseball teams that have good players. The 2013 Braves won 96 games without much “gravitas” and “leadership.” The 1988 Braves had “gravitas” out the wazoo in the form of Ken Griffey Sr. They had veteran leadership in the form of Dale Murphy. They also lost 106 games.

My guess is that, unlike in 1988, the 2015 Braves at least have a chance to avoid the cellar. It’ll be a pitched battle with Philly for that “title” all year, but at least it’ll be worth watching for all the veteran leadership on display.

Oh well:

Ted Lilly charged with felony insurance fraud

ted lilly getty

Ted Lilly pitched in the bigs from 1999 through 2013 and made roughly $80 million in salary. So, if he got a $200,000 RV, he should’ve been able to afford insurance. And, even if he didn’t get insurance, if he damaged his $200,000 RV, he should have been able to cover it out of pocket.

Allegedly, however, he didn’t do the former until too late and didn’t bother with the latter:

Retired professional baseball player Ted Lilly has been charged with insurance fraud in San Luis Obispo County . . .

According to the California Department of Insurance, Lilly damaged his RV worth around $200,000 but did not file a claim until after he purchased insurance on the vehicle. The amount of the claim is not known at this time.

Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham alleges the crimes happened in March of last year.

Dang, during his first March where he wasn’t in a spring training camp in his adult life. Some people just aren’t made for the real world.

If convicted, Lilly could face up to five years in prison.

Let’s talk about “Talk about . . . “

hamilton presser getty

Media criticism alert. Those of you who like to wade into these threads and complain about meta-media talk, consider yourselves warned. And, subsequently, consider yourself to be making an admission of either illiteracy or stupidity if you, nonetheless, offer your usual complaints about such posts. Anyway:

Bryan Curtis of Grantland has a fun story/bit of invective up about the way in which postgame press conferences and media scrums have been taken over by reporters asking players and coaches to “talk about” this or that. They don’t ask proper questions, mind you, it’s just “talk about the shot you took at the buzzer” and “talk about the fourth quarter touchdown” and “talk about that game-winning double.”

Curtis argues that it’s inane and obsequious and puts the reporter in a subservient position to the athlete to the point where he or she often doesn’t bother to ask an actually good question and athletes are never inspired to offer any actually good answers.

A more significant point — which Curtis makes but which I think is bigger than he suggests — is that the postgame interview has become, for the most part, an exercise in blank-filling, not information gathering. And that’s the case whether questions are in “talk about” form or any other form.

Reporters have their game story, and they need someone to say some magic words which support their thesis or argument about what was important in the game. “Talk about why your will-to-win and grit made the difference here,” etc. We know this is so because it is a fact that, for the most part, the reporters are writing their game stories as the game ends and well before the clubhouse opens up for interviews. The deadlines are brutal. No WAY are most reporters going to go in, get quotes, think about what they mean and then and only then start their game story.

Likewise, TV and radio people just need a soundbite — any sound will do — to fit in that clip for the broadcast later. It’s just another in a great many sports media developments which represent tails wagging dogs and the purpose of which is more to justify the media’s presence someplace than it is to actually enlighten anyone.

Fact is, we as fans don’t need nearly the amount of enlightening sports media types assume. We can see any play of significance several times. If we’re lucky enough to have a half-decent announcing team on our broadcast, we can get an expert’s take on it. We know the sport we’re watching pretty well. For baseball, I think there are a couple of interesting things we can’t know just by watching, and questions about these things — be they in “talk about” form or in the form of actual “who, what, when, where, why, how” form — are welcome. They are:

  • Why did the manager make the pitching change when he did and why did he go with that pitcher (or, alternatively, why didn’t he make a change);
  • Whether the hitter was expecting the pitch he got when he hit the home run, whether he was guessing or what have you; and
  • If it wasn’t clear from the broadcast, how the pitcher set up the batter in the way he did before that critical strikeout/groundout/whatever.

That’s basically it. Save your “how did it feel to . . . ” questions and their ilk for another time. Preferably a time when the player isn’t still coming down from the game and after he’s had some time to reflect on things and actually give an intelligent answer rather than fill Johnny Sportswriter’s column inches in time for deadline.