Author: Craig Calcaterra

rangers logo

Torey Lovullo and Alex Cora reportedly out as Rangers manager candidates

4 Comments

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and former White Sox coach Alex Cora were reportedly candidates to become the next manager of the Texas Rangers. Now they’re reportedly out:

This jibes with reports last week that Tim Bogar, Rangers interim manager, is the favorite to get the job on a permanent basis. In addition to Bogar, Kevin Cash, Joe McEwing, Jeff Banister, Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele are all rumored to be in the running.

Nope, the postseason umpires were not picked based on their umpiring skills

Joe West
59 Comments

Last week, when we learned that Joe West, one of baseball’s worst umpires, was named crew chief for the ALCS, I suspected that postseason assignments were based on seniority rather than quality of work. I cited one study that bore this out, showing that West was near the bottom of all umps in his balls-and-strikes skills, and of course, we all know that he has his issues when it comes to temperament and game management.

Today Ben Lindbergh of Grantland presents much, much more comprehensive data about all of that, expanding things to cover all of the postseason umps and comparing their accuracy with that of younger umpires who were not chosen, one assumes, due to their lack of seniority. The results are pretty clear: younger umps are more accurate, generally speaking, and the guys chosen for the playoffs over the past few years have been less accurate.

Lindbergh examines the differences more deeply in an attempt to figure out why, exactly, this is. Those results are a lot more mixed — no, the old umps aren’t calling a wide 1990s zone and the creep of the zone down is something to which all umps apparently contribute — but it’s nonetheless illuminating.

Whittier College to be home to the first humanities-based baseball studies program in the country

baseball grass
38 Comments

“What’s your major?”

“Communications. Yours?”

“Baseball.”

“Whoa.”

Whittier College will be the home of the Institute for Baseball Studies, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States. The Institute is a partnership between Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary and the College.

The coolest part is that the department is being headed up by two directors, Terry Cannon from the Baseball Reliquary and Joseph Price, a Whittier religious studies professor. Because of course it’s religious studies. I can only assume Adjunct Professor Annie Savoy was unavailable.

I like that this is a humanities program as opposed to, say, a straight stats/analysis thing like many schools have dabbled with. And that it’s not in the athletic department or something. The humanities side of baseball takes a lot of shots because it’s the part of things that lends itself to nostalgia and sepia-toned baloney, but it’s also where all of the deep and rich connections to real life and the culture that make baseball somehow different than other sports reside. Partly because of its age, partially because of its pace, baseball just blends with life and society better and a program to explore all of that sounds like a load of fun.

The time the Yankees played the Dodgers played the Giants

Polo Grounds
16 Comments

I’ve been following baseball to one degree or another since the late 1970s. You would think that in 35+ years of this a guy would’ve heard of everything, but I still learn about new, crazy stuff that happened in baseball all the time. The latest thing I learned may have been the craziest: the time the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants played a three-way game.

This story comes to me via Dan Lewis, who writes a daily newsletter called “Now I Know.” “Now I Know” assembles strange but true facts and stories and delivers them to your inbox each morning. It’s free and it’s highly recommended if you have any sort of a mind for trivia, history or just plain weirdness. Dan also has written “Now I Know” books — his latest is “Now I Know More” — and that’s where this Dodgers-Yankees-Giants story comes from.

The upshot: it was in June of 1944 and the game was a benefit for the war effort. The format of the three-sided game was devised by sportswriters. Who in 1944 had not yet, as a profession, decided that looking back and blindly defending tradition was the most important thing one can do with a press credential. Nope, this was downright radical, and it worked like this:

In the top of the first, the Dodgers came to bat against the Yankees, and in the bottom of the first, the teams switched sides. Then the Dodgers came back up to the plate for the top of the second. So far, normal. But the team pitching to them now wasn’t the Yankees. It was the Giants. The two NL rivals faced off for that inning, and in the third, the Dodgers took a breather in the shared away-team dugout while the Yankees and Giants faced off. This pattern repeated twice over the next six innings.

The Giants were the team that got the dugout to themselves, as the game was played in the Polo Grounds. The Dodgers and Yankees shared the visitor’s dugout. The Dodgers beat the Yankees beat the Giants, 5-1-0, respectively.

And with that, I can say I have now heard about the weirdest game ever. Until I hear about a weirder game which, the way baseball history rolls, I’ll probably hear about in a couple of years. Maybe when Dan’s next book comes out.

(But seriously; get Dan’s book. It’s fantastic stuff).

Mike Napoli to have jaw surgery for sleep apnea

Mike Napoli Getty
12 Comments

Mike Napoli takes a lot of bumps and bruises, and he’s having surgery in November. But that surgery has nothing to do with the bumps and bruises: it’s to address his chronic sleep apnea.

The surgery, as reported by WEEI, seems pretty major and sounds like nothing anyone would want. It’s called maxillomandibular advancement surgery, which is the technical term for “we’re gonna cut your jaw bone and move it forward . . . wait, you’re looking pale, do you need some water? Maybe sit down and you’ll stop being queasy surgery.”

But want has nothing to do with it. People who, like Napoli, suffer from sleep apnea and are resistant to less radical treatment like CPAP machines and nasal surgery need this sort of thing. Apnea interferes with sleep and can make your life miserable. And, if it’s serious, the interruption in breathing it causes can pose a serious risk to the person with it.