Author: Craig Calcaterra


Why is the baseball season 162-games long?


Every time the subject of the length of games come up — and every time next season’s schedule comes out, as happened earlier this week — someone talks about how the real thing that needs to happen is for the season to be reduced to 154 games. Or 140 games. There are lots of ideas along those lines. They’re all non-starters because there is no way Major League Baseball is going to cut 8-10 (or more) games off each team’s schedule given how much revenue those 8-10 games bring in.

But how did we get to a 162-game schedule? Today at Mental Floss, Hanna Keyser investigates, with the help of the great John Thorn. The answer: math, mostly.

Which is interesting, because eventually baseball will expand again. Maybe not now, maybe not soon, but eventually. And as Thorn notes, the math gets harder every time the number of teams changes. So, maybe some day we won’t have 162 games. Maybe we’ll have, like, 180.

What? You honestly think we won’t have weather-controlling satellites and/or force-field domes for open-air stadiums? Pessimist.

Video: Mike Piazza’s home run from September 21, 2001 will make things better


It’s a crappy day for a lot of reasons. What’s going on in the news now, what this day makes so many of us remember. We try not to dwell on that stuff because if we do it’ll make us go crazy, but we can’t help but think about it. Especially when so much of what is crappy in the world has bled into sports of late. Sports is supposed to be a respite from the ugliness of the world and when it isn’t, damn, where do you go?

But it’s worth remembering that sports can be uplifting for us even if we don’t tune out the “real world.” Indeed, sometimes sports and the real world come together in such a way as to give us hope or make us feel better about all the awfulness.

Here was one of those times. If you didn’t see it at the time or were too young to remember, enjoy it. If you did, enjoy it again.

Oh, and put this man in the Hall of Fame.

Yasiel Puig’s struggles continue, and the call to bench him grows louder

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Yasiel Puig went 0 for 4 in last night’s Dodgers victory. That puts him at .203 since the end of July with a .228 slugging percentage and no homers since then. As slumps go, it’s particularly long and particularly deep.

He’s a good player who, one presumes, will snap out of it soon. But this slump has gone on long enough that it’s creating an interesting interplay between Don Mattingly and the media. Yesterday we saw Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times call for Puig to be benched in favor of Andre Ethier. Check out these two passages from Bill Shaikin’s story on this from late last night. First Shaikin’s view:

The Dodgers have options beyond Puig in center field. Certainly, Puig offers a potential offensive bonanza that Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke and rookie Joc Pederson do not.

Then Mattingly’s comments:

“I don’t know that we necessarily have a better option,” Mattingly said. “You may say Joc. We think Joc is going to be a great player in the future, but it’s not like you bring a kid up and throw him in there and say, ‘You’re better than this guy’ without him having proven anything yet.”

Follow that up with Shaikin’s reporting:

No teammate has called out Puig publicly, but several Dodgers players have wondered privately how a player in such a prolonged slump can continue to show up to the ballpark too late to get in extra work before batting practice, and how long a leash management might continue to afford him, even with his unquestioned talent.

It’s pretty fascinating. The manager says he has no better options, but the press is pushing back. Here Shaikin is careful not say the options are better in the way Dilbeck did, but there is certainly a drumbeat building to bench Puig.

If the Dodgers had a bigger lead in the NL West I’d probably sit him down a bit simply to rest him and let him clear his head. But they don’t have that. And I can’t get around the notion that, slump or no slump, on any given night he is the most talented hitter on that team, and the whole point of the game is to put your most talented players out there to give yourself the best chance to win.

Interesting times.

Video: Kids giving away foul balls is the new thing


For the second time in a week, we have video of kids giving a foul ball to another kid at Fenway:

Maybe this will become the new thing in baseball: just giving foul balls or home run balls away?

Hahaha, yeah, I know. Crazy. Some old dude is still going to take an old ball to the game in his pocket to throw back after he snags a home run ball. Because baseballs are really hard to come by.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 0: Big Game James coms up big in a big game. In the rain. So he’s more like Big Rain Game James. Anyway, seven, two-hit shutout innings followed by Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.

Braves 6, Nationals 2: Big Game Harang  . . . nah, that doesn’t work. But Aaron Harang did come up big for the Braves, helping them avoid a sweep, allowing one run over seven. Justin Upton drove in three. Brother B.J. homered off Stephen Strasburg. Which he’s done before. He should just be played in games against Stephen Strasburg, really. Who objects to that?

Orioles 10, Red Sox 6: Wei-Yin Chen was perfect into the sixth and by then he had a big bunch of run support so it was a particularly easy night for the O’s. Caleb Joseph homered and drove in three. Other than Joe Saunders melting down in the ninth — a situation he doesn’t see if the O’s aren’t up 10-1 — it was a pretty perfect day for Baltimore, who has won 11 of 14.

Pirates 6, Phillies 3: Andrew McCutchen hit a standup inside-the-park homer. As always, of course, if the outfielder plays it a tad differently or if the right or left fielder comes over to, you know, back him up some, it probably doesn’t happen, but we’ll let that go. McCutchen is hitting .311/.403/.539 on the year with 23 homers 75 driven in and he’s 17 for 19 in stolen bases. It’s gonna be really interesting to see the MVP vote.

Reds 4, Cardinals 2: Alfredo Simon allowed two runs over seven innings and hit two doubles, driving in a run. Both hits came on the first pitch he saw. Which, frankly, is what I think most pitchers should do. It’s likely the best pitch they’re gonna see in an at bat and it’s not like any pitcher these days outside of maybe Zack Greinke has the chops to adjust and outthink and do all of those things to get the best of major league pitching. In other news, allow me to remind you of my views on the designated hitter.

Mets 2, Rockies 0: Eric Young went 3 for 3 with a triple and Rafael Montero got his first win. No word if either of those two are married or if they have children and have become less aggressive since doing so.

Yankees 8, Rays 5: Down 4-0 after the top of the first you almost felt like the Yankees were gonna pack it in before they got started. Or at least their fans. Following Yankees games in real time on Twitter with my Yankees fan friends has become an exercise in pessimism lately. But the ballplayers haven’t given up. Mark Teixeira hit a triple. I don’t personally believe that, but it says so in the box score so it must’ve happened. Brain McCann homered and drove in three. He’s been on fire since September began. Doesn’t help salvage his season, but at least it’s something to grow on, maybe.

Brewers 4, Marlins 1: Wily Peralta gave up one earned run and five hits to help the Brewers snap their losing streak and win for just the second time in 15 games. Peralta also [altogether now] helped his own cause. In other news, allow me to remind you of my views on the designated hitter. Wait, I already did that.

Blue Jays 11, Cubs 1: Drew Hutchison registered 10 strikeouts in six and a third to help the Jays sweep. They outscored the Cubs 20-3 in those three games.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 0: San Francisco keeps humming along, with the second straight domination of Arizona. The Snakes have lost five in a row and seven of nine and look like they’re already booking tee times for October.

Angels 8, Rangers 1: Albert Pujols was a homer short of the cycle. Which makes me wonder how much money would you win if you bet on both him and Teixeira hitting triples yesterday? I’m guessing someone would give you 50-1 odds on that. Maybe more. Matt Shoemaker allowed one run in six and two-thirds. The Angels pitching has actually improved since they lost Garret Richards for the season. Team-of-Destiny stuff.

Dodgers 4, Padres 0: Dan Haren pitched seven shutout innings. He’s turned his season around, too. After a craptastic July, Haren has allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last four starts, going 5-1 in his last seven and notching his 13th win of the year last night. Carl Crawford was 4 for 4 with three doubles and two driven in.

White Sox 2, Athletics 1: The A’s had a 1-0 lead behindJeff Samardzija’s seven shutout innings, but then Avisail Garcia drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth. It’s the third time in four games that the Athletics’ relievers blew a lead. Given that the Tigers and Mariners did too, it didn’t hurt them too bad, but the A’s need to figure something out.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Jose Altuve had two hits, including an RBI double, to break a mini-slump and to notch his 200th hit of the season. After the game interim manager Tom Lawless said that Altuve joined a “small club” in reaching the milestone. I guess it’s small in the grand scheme. It does, however, have like 500 guys in it, so the club doesn’t tend to meet for dinners and things as it costs a lot to get a banquet hall that big.

Twins vs. Indians: POSTPONED: As a man I ain’t never been much for sunny days. I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange. But when the color goes out of my eyes its usually the change. But damn Sam I love a woman that rains.