Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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MLB is encouraging teams to put accent marks on players’ names on their uniforms

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Yesterday a little story was circulating about how Adrian Gonzalez‘ name on the back of his jersey finally, after many years, has accent mark over the “a”. On social media he challenged teammate Enrique Hernandez to do the same, and Hernandez followed suit.

Some Latin players around the league have had accents and tildes on their uniforms before, some haven’t. There’s certainly no uniformity to it and, in keeping with most clerical and media practices, you see accent-free last names in the U.S. more often than you see the accents. Places like this website included (more on that below).

But Major League Baseball is urging teams to change this practice. Or, at the very least, to accommodate players who request a change. Paul Lukas of ESPN has the relevant text of a memo that was sent out to teams before the season regarding all of this:

It’s a nice initiative in response to a situation which, while not exactly the most serious of problems facing the Hispanic community in the U.S., is a fairly obvious one. And an occasionally ambiguous one. It’s a matter of spelling — accent marks and tildes are just as much a part of a properly-spelled Spanish word or name as an “a” or an “r” is — but it’s also a matter of preference. Some people who have accents in their names prefer the accent to carry over when their name is written in English language media or on signs or shirts or whatever. Some don’t or don’t care.

As far as the media goes, it’s also a matter of historical practice and house style. The Associated Press Stylebook, for example, tells writers not use accent marks on Hispanic names in English-language stories, though it does use them in Spanish-language stories. Historically there were technological reasons for this — English typewriters, printing presses and earlier generation word processing programs didn’t uniformly support accents and tildes — but that’s largely not the case anymore, suggesting it’s a matter of inertia.

It’s also simply a matter of work. Official sources of names — company rosters, mastheads, organizational charts, etc. — may not have the accents themselves, and reporters often rely on those sources for a spelling of a person’s name. Is it reasonable for them to track down a person to see if that’s correct or if their preference is different? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the story, I suppose. As far as this site goes, we have the option of looking at a handful of primary or quasi-primary sources for player names if we ever feel like looking them up. They’re not uniform either. MLB.com’s 25-man roster listing for the Dodgers shows Gonzalez with no accent. Baseball-Reference.com includes the accents on Gonzalez’s name, but it didn’t back when most of us starting using it (that site also has phonetic spellings of most player names). ESPN’s Player Card page for Gonzalez does not nor, amusingly, does this ESPN story talking about Gonzalez getting the accent on his jersey). Fangraphs: no accent. Rotoworld: no accent.

Even if you have the sourcing down, there’s also the issue of simple typing speed. To make “Adrian Gonzalez” into Adrián González, I just had to type “Option-E” and then the letter A, which sort of stops the flow. I think the only player I ever make a habit of doing this for is Enrique Hernandez, when using the short version of his first name, which is Kiké. And that’s just so it doesn’t type out like an anti-semitic slur (other baseball writers and I have admitted to one another that we use “Enrique” more often simply to avoid the hassle of the accent). Either way, it doesn’t come up enough to where I can readily remember the keys I need to type to make the accent (I always have to look it up) let alone make it part of my normal typing routine. I’m guessing a lot of writers are in this same situation, even before factoring in the sourcing issue.

All of which is a lot of words about accent marks in names, but it’s a pretty interesting topic so that’s OK. I’m not sure media practice will change very quickly in this regard nor do I think it can change quickly even if everyone wanted it to. But the jerseys can change quickly. And it’s a good thing that the league is encouraging clubs to change them if the player so desires.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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There were two events which occurred last night which overshadowed everything else, so we’re going to let them speak for the rest of today’s recaps and just move on from there.

First, and most obviously, was Max Scherzer striking out 20 dudes. That ties him for the most in a nine-inning game with Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens, who did the deed twice. A guy named Tom Cheney struck out 21 in a 16-inning game for the Washington Senators against the Orioles in 1962. Cheney’s milestone was kind of a fluke. He’d only pitch in 41 games over three seasons after that year. The other guys: legit beasts. As is Scherzer, of course. Once in a while I remember him with the Diamondbacks, all stuff — great stuff, mind you — and no plan, and marvel at what he’s done since.

The other big fun story was Noah Syndergaard hitting two home runs in the Mets’ win. It was a 4-3 win. Syndergaard drove in all four of those runs on his bombs. I’m guessing there are stats out there about how often a pitcher has driven in all of his team’s runs in a win and I assume the vast majority of those instances were games in which his team scored one or two runs. I can’t recall a game, at least in the nine seasons I’ve been doing these And That Happened recaps, where a pitcher did it with as many as four runs.

Oh, and finally there was this:

Bartolo’s trot was better. I was watching the Mets-Dodgers game and the most notable thing about Syndergaard’s trots was just how awkward and unpracticed they were. Now he has a lot of practice.

The rest of the scores. We’ll get back to highlights tomorrow. None of them would beat these two things anyway:

Padres 7, Cubs 4; Padres 1, Cubs 0
Orioles 9, Twins 2
Rangers 6, White Sox 5
Astros 5, Indians 3
Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 7
Mariners 6, Rays 5
Giants 5, Blue Jays 4
Royals 7, Yankees 3
Nationals 3, Tigers 2
Red Sox 13, Athletics 3
Braves 5, Phillies 1
Pirates 5, Reds 4
Marlins 3, Brewers 2
Cardinals 5, Angels 2
Mets 4, Dodgers 3

 

 

 

 

Bryce Harper suspended for one game

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I suspected this would happen and now it has happened: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has received a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for his actions following his ninth inning ejection against the Tigers the other night.

“His actions,” according to MLB, “included returning to the field, during Monday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park” after he was ejected. The press release did not mention his F-bomb to the umpire, but I imagine if that hadn’t have happened he wouldn’t have gotten the single game suspension. For what it’s worth, however, managers have been suspended in the past for not leaving the field following their being ejected or for returning later. Ask Bobby Valentine and his mustache about that.

Harper’s suspension had been scheduled to be served tonight, but he has elected to file an appeal. I would guess that he’ll just drop the appeal when he wants a day off on, say, a day game after a night game, as MLB is unlikely to reduce a one-game suspension to zero games.

I like Harper’s game overall and I’m not gonna lose my sleep over a young man getting caught up in the moment. But you can’t just come back on the field and start cussin’ out Blue and not expect a little blowback. This is the blowback and it’s not too bad. He should probably consider himself pretty lucky that MLB acted reasonably here and didn’t get too caught up in Bryce Harper Derangement Syndrome like some quarters of the media and the fan base at large do.