Craig Calcaterra

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Baseball in Boston is dying, you guys

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Gonna level with you: many won’t be able to stomach this article, even before it gets to the part for which I am linking it. It’s many, many paragraphs about Boston sports and how exceptional they are and how exceptional and demanding Boston fans are and all of that. That’s not aimed at any of you not from Boston, obviously — that’s fan service to the readers of the Boston Globe and rooters for Boston’s teams — but, man, a lot of that bleeds over to the national discourse and it can be tiring.

Even better: despite all of the claims to exceptionalism — valid claims, mind you, given how many titles Boston teams have won in the past 15 years or so — there are still a few references to Boston fans being put upon, and everyone loves that. The writer’s father didn’t make it to see the 2004 championship, you see, so “therefore, all those titles will never be enough for some of us,” and Boston fans “will never be spoiled.”

But like I said, I don’t link it for that. I link it for the stuff in the second half of the column in which the writer claims that, now and forever more, Boston will be a Patriots town, not a Red Sox town, because . . . baseball is dying, you guys:

The NFL, in spite of its warts, is more popular than ever. Check the ratings from Sunday’s Super Bowl. It was most-watched Super Bowl and TV show ever in the U.S. Viewing peaked at 120.8 million in the fourth quarter. About 129 million Americans voted in the last presidential election. It drew an 85 share in Boston, which means 85 percent of TV sets in use were watching the game. The other 15 percent were either watching “Breaking Bad” re-runs or are Jets fans.

The task for the Red Sox is no longer securing, or maintaining their spot, as Boston’s Most Popular Team. That is gone forever. Demographics and time cannot be denied. The Patriots fan base is getting younger and the Red Sox fan base is getting older. Young people are turning away from baseball because the sport is simply too damn slow for 2015’s society.

This is not a judgment, but rather reality.

No new arguments, here. TV ratings and baseball’s slow pace and the tastes and interests of people between the ages of 18-34, etc. etc.

I’m not from Boston, so I ask you Boston folks to weigh in on my hunch. Which is this: if and when Tom Brady is retired and/or the Patriots sink into mediocrity, Boston will no longer be an NFL city, even if it is now, which I’m not really sure. Boston has always been described to me by people who know it well as a baseball city. My outside observations suggest this to be the case as well, even if people get super excited for the other teams when they win. It, along with maybe St. Louis, usually New York and, perhaps, Cincinnati, may be the only cities where baseball is the king, but the feeling is that it is definitely true in Boston.

Or have I just been sold a bill of goods by Red Sox Nation?

The Braves and Pirates made a tiny trade last night

Handshake
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The anti-blockbuster: the Braves sent  Edward Salcedo to Pittsburgh and the Pirates sendt right-hander Bryton Trepagnier to Atlanta.

Salcedo is a 23-year-old utility guy who has spent more time in the infield than the outfield but has spent all of his time in the minors not hitting particularly well. He was once thought of as a prospect but ended up being older than the Braves thought, so if the hitting didn’t sink him, that wouldn’t have helped. Trepagnier is a 23-year-old minor leaguer who walks a lot of guys.

Yipee!

Danny Valencia wins his arbitration

lawsuit gavel
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Blue Jays infielder Danny Valencia had filed for $1.675 million in arbitration. The Jays team filed for $1.25 million. They just had their hearing and Valencia won, the team has announced. It was Toronto’s first actual arbitration case in 18 years. Maybe they were rusty.

Valencia was traded from the Royals to the Jays last season. Overall he hit .258/.296/.371 in 284 plate appearances.

Maicer Izturis is in the best shape of his life

Maicer Izturis AP
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There was a Blue Jays “State of the Franchise” event last night and John Gibbons was asked about who was going to play second base for Toronto. While he noted that there are four candidates, one of whom is Maicer Izturis, he said:

“Izturis is in the best shape of his life.”

So I guess that’s settled.

(Thanks to Rik for the heads up)

Billy Butler takes some hacks in Athletics gold. And looks weird.

butler getty
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As is the case every year, there will be a lot of players putting on new uniforms for the first time later this month. To some extent they always look a bit off at first. I mean, there are fewer things in life that looked weirder to me than seeing Robinson Cano in Mariners get-up last year. It always takes a while for it to look normal.

The first glimpse of anyone in a new uniform (non-press conference edition) is Billy Butler of the Athletics, who was apparently filming a commercial yesterday and thus donned some A’s Gold:

I dunno man, that just seems odd. And not particularly flattering.