Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Man spreads his son’s ashes in every ballpark


This is not one for those of you who are afraid to cry. Or who are afraid to confront some pretty heavy emotions on a Tuesday afternoon.

The story comes from the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, and it’s about a man named Dave MacDougall who, in January 2015, suddenly and tragically lost his nine year-old son Johnny to a brain aneurysm. It was obviously devastating, in ways most of us couldn’t even begin to comprehend. But MacDougall has, in his own way, made something positive or, at the very least, motivating and inspiring out of it:

When baseball season crept up the spring after Johnny died, Dave MacDougall and his younger son, Tommy, decided to honor Johnny by carrying out the cross-country trip he had wanted to take. Over the past two summers, they have visited 15 stadiums, racking up nearly 10,000 miles and driving through almost 20 states in a 1976 VW campmobile. During the seventh-inning stretch, when the fans sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the pair quietly spreads some of Johnny’s ashes at each stadium.

“When we scatter his ashes, it’s sad,” MacDougall says. “But it also gives us a chance to reflect and remember Johnny on a regular basis.”

Read it all. And Bring a hanky.


The Rangers are interested in Drew Pomeranz


Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are interested in Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

Rosenthal says the Rangers have done background work on Pomeranz. As they should have done, given how bad the injury bug has hit their starting rotation. And Pomeranz may be the best of the available starters. The 27-year-old has posted a 2.47 ERA and 115/41 K/BB ratio over 102 innings in the first half. Moreover, he’s under team control through 2018. That will mean a lot of talent is going to have to go back to the Padres to make the deal work, but it also means the Rangers will be getting a lot of value if they pull the trigger.

Jose Fernandez says he’ll groove fastballs so David Ortiz can hit a homer


SAN DIEGO — “This time it counts” is the slogan Major League Baseball slapped on the All-Star Game when it tied home field advantage in the world series to the game’s outcome. The idea was to atone for the embarrassing tie game in 2002 when both teams ran out of players and to encourage managers and players to take the game more seriously lest it turn into a defense-free farce like the NBA and NHL All-Star Games or a complete and total farce like the NFL’s Pro Bowl.

For the most part players pay decent lip service to the “this time it counts” thing. During media day they can often be heard saying that it’s all just a lot of fun but, not long after, their media training kicks in and they almost always revert to “home field advantage in the World Series is important too,” mode.

Still, a lot of these guys are just here for the yuks. Take Jose Fernandez for example. The Marlins pitcher told Marly Rivera of ESPN that, if he gets the opportunity to face retiring legend David Ortiz, that he’s going to groove three fastballs down the middle so, in Rivera’s words, Ortiz “can hit a monster HR in his last All-Star Game!”

It wouldn’t be the first time a retiring superstar had a fastball grooved to him for such purposes. Adam Wainwright strongly suggested that he grooved one to Derek Jeter in 2014, only to backtrack on that once MLB’s P.R. people got to him. Cal Ripken hit a reeaallllly straight pitch from Chan Ho Park in 2001, his final All-Star Game. If that’s the benchmark for an honor of that type, David Ortiz had certainly earned it too.

I don’t have a problem with it. If Fernandez wants to have fun with it, let him have fun with it. He, as well as fans, will remember a big David Ortiz bomb in his last All-Star Game more than we’ll remember who had home field advantage in the World Series this fall. We’ll have to look that up ten years from now. Last night there were 61 grooved pitches to Giancarlo Stanton and we enjoyed every one of them. The All-Star Game is supposed to be fun.

The problem is MLB’s for insisting that it’s supposed to count for something. If anyone is mad at Fernandez over this, take it up with the league office, not him.