Craig Calcaterra

Indians Truck

Let’s write a screenplay about hijacking a spring training equipment truck, you guys


This morning I was greeted with the first images of a team’s Truck Day, in which semis loaded with baseball equipment leave the home city on their journey to the team’s spring training site. Such shipments have probably always happened — maybe it was train day before cars were invented — but it only started to become a tradition when the Red Sox and their fans began making  big deal out of it in the past few decades. Now the media shows up, little happy ceremonies are held and the like.

Today it was the Cleveland Indians, who have started to make a pretty big deal out of their truck leaving:

When I saw the pic the first thing I thought was how easily identifiable it is as the Indians’ truck and how neat that must be when fans pass it on the highway or whatever. The second thought: “Man, if you wanted to hijack a baseball team’s truck, they sure are making it easy.”

Third thought: “Why on Earth would anyone hijack a major league equipment truck?” It’s just full of baseball bats, jock straps, icy hot and pallets of sunflower seeds and Dubble Bubble. But I’m so taken with the idea of some heist flick involving a baseball truck that I tried to work out the details of it via a bunch of tweets of my own and the contributions of other people on Twitter. I now think there’s a core of an idea to it!

For starters, it has to be set in the 1970s. All the best heist flicks are set in the 70s. Modern heist flicks are too focused on beating some unbeatable security technology. I don’t want any scenes where a hacker in a headset says “I’m in.” I don’t want a scene with some impossibly-complicated drill that probably cost more than the actual haul from the safe would be. I don’t want bearer bonds or codes to Swiss bank accounts or suave Euro-dudes running around in nice suits. I want some shlubby Walter Matthau-types and a lot of guys driving Dodges. I want a plot point that involves “getting to the county line” because for some reason that was always a plot point in those movies, as if extradition hadn’t been invented yet. It was marvelous.

As for why anyone would knock over a baseball team’s equipment truck? Man, I had no idea. At least until Adam Morris of Lonestarball came up with a great one:

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.42.53 AM

Which is PERFECT. For one thing it makes this a comedy or at least a movie with a lighthearted center. The heisters are a group of parents of Little Leaguers, not hardened criminals. More significantly, it totally puts it in that Ford-Carter economic malaise era when, man, maybe it WAS more plausible to hijack a truck than to expect a local kids’ league to have any funding. It could be some fantastic mix of “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Honky Tonk Freeway” and “The North Avenue Irregulars.” Classics, all. There would be so many C.B. radios in it that Cobra Electronics or someone might even underwrite half of the thing.

Anyway, the truck leaves, it goes through some part of small town America, a crazy heist plan is hatched, zaniness ensures, a crooked sheriff is involved, lots of Dodges crash and, at the end, the Boston Red Sox or the Cleveland Indians all show up at some super dusty Little League Field and play a game with all of the local kids and families around while the moms and dads drink domestic beer out of steel cans with pull-top taps. In short: perfection.

I’m offering this to Universal first since they are owned by my employer, but if they don’t bite with a big advance for the screenplay in the next ten days, I’m putting it up for bids. Have your girl call my girl, movie executives. This will make a mint.

Bill introduced to ban smokeless tobacco in Yankee Stadium and Citi Field

New York Mets third baseman Juan Uribe uses chewing tobacco during batting practice before the Mets played against the Miami Marlins in a baseball game in Miami, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
Associated Press

Baseball’s push to rid the sport of smokeless tobacco has slowly increased in intensity over the years. It has banned minor leaguers from using the stuff and has passed rules — not stringently enforced it appears to the casual observer — prohibiting major leaguers from using it during games or when cameras are present. According to the New York Times they have also instituted a program intended to help big leaguers who want to quit, which is laudable.

But perhaps a bigger incentive to keep big leaguers from using the stuff are state or local ordinances which outlaw smokeless tobacco use in ballparks. We’ve talked about San Francisco and in California as a whole passing laws to this effect. Now, in that Times story, we learn that New York is set to do the same:

Now, a member of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson, is set to introduce a bill Friday that will include language that would ban smokeless tobacco from Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, along with other public arenas in the five boroughs.

“If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all major league cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Yankees and Mets have indicated that they support the bill. As they should given the total lack of any upside whatsoever to their ballplayers using smokeless tobacco. If nothing else, on a practical level, it relieves the league and the union from having to negotiate and enforce rules about this stuff in collective bargaining and, instead, allows them all to simply say “hey, don’t break the law at the ballpark.”

In a larger sense, I appreciate that there are some sticky considerations when it comes to regulating the otherwise legal behavior of consenting adults, but I don’t lose much sleep over tobacco regulation in public places. People talk about slippery slopes and the like, but tobacco is different and far more dangerous than large sodas.

With cigarettes this is obvious given the secondhand smoke concerns. With smokeless tobacco it’s less clear, but it’s no accident that young ballplayers — Babe Ruth league and high school players — use the stuff in greater numbers than their peers. It’s purely emulative behavior. Having a chaw or a dip in has long been part of the “look like a ballplayer” thing, and any effort to eradicate that or, in effect, have major league ballplayers endorsing that is a good move.

Libertarians can register their dissents in the comments.

Brothers unite in the Caribbean Series

Atlanta Braves' Adonis Garcia (24) during singles on a line drive to center field hitting in Michael Bourn during the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Associated Press

We don’t pay much attention to winter league baseball around here, but once in a while something neat happens. In that “four saddest words” thread from yesterday (great job, by the way everyone, I laughed at all of them, even the ones making fun of me), reader bajamex hipped me to one of those neat stories.

Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia defected from Cuba in 2011. He is playing winter ball in Venezuela this year and right now is playing in the Caribbean Series for Venezuela’s Tigres de Aragua. Cuba, for the third year after an extended absence, is in the series once again. Jose Adolis Garcia is Adonis Garcia’s younger brother. He’s only 22 now and was 16 when Adonis defected. While they had kept in touch by telephone and played online video games they have not seen each other in that time.

They got to see each other and sat down for an interview with Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today prior to their two teams playing. That was nice, but reader bajamex’s description of what happened in the game was even nicer. Here’s his comment:

Adonis García left Cuba in January of 2011, played in the winter league of Venezuela and was signed by the Yankees and released in 2015 only to be signed by Los Bravos de Atlanta to play in MLB.

Today, he was playing third base for the Venezuelan representative while a cuban right fielder hit a screamer that turned out to be a triple for the batter-runner who exchanged a coy smile with Adonis… the batter’s name? José Adolis García, the brother of Adonis García who last saw his brother Adolis in 2011 when the younger García was a kid. Later Adolis scored in a groundout but it gave the García brothers time to exchange a few words and nothing more, since fraternizing with the rival is not well viewed as in MLB, not only among Cuban teams but overall in hispanoamerican baseball during a game.

I’m sure hugging and talking and giving that interview meant the world for the Garcia brothers. But I bet that moment on the field meant something different and maybe even more special too.

Here’s to thawing relationship, reunited families and, if the scouts are correct, the younger Garcia brother joining the older in the big leagues in the not too distant future.