Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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So, how is the Tim Tebow news being received?


Tim Tebow‘s actual baseball career may not ultimately be of any consequence. Most part-time, half-heartedly pursued hobbies with possible ulterior motives aren’t. But they’re certainly causing some fun reactions among the press and populace.

For example: a lot of baseball players have opinions about Tebow and the $100,000 signing bonus he reportedly received, as well as the fact that he gets to take leave from the instructional league in order to go be a talking head on ESPN on the weekends:

It’s certainly easy to sympathize with these guys. From their perspective, Tebow jumped the line and got preferential treatment because of his celebrity.

That said, some of these complaints and others like them either inadvertently miss or intentionally overlook a central truth here: baseball isn’t always a meritocracy and Tebow being given $100K isn’t really about the Mets valuing his baseball skills 100 times more than, say, the Mariners valued Tyler Smith’s.

Though neither Tebow nor Sandy Alderson want to admit it, a big part of signing Tebow is the gimmick of his presence in the Mets organization, fans flocking to Port St. Lucie and some hard-to-quantify yet certainly real value that the Mets think Tebow will provide as a motivator or clubhouse presence or what have you, much the same way the Rangers keep Russell Wilson in the organization and let him show up to spring training each year. The only difference is that the Rangers don’t pretend that Wilson is anything other than a motivational speaker.

I don’t begrudge these players’ anger. It has to sting to see Tebow being feted like he has been. And the bit about him being able to keep his day job rather than dedicate himself 100% to baseball the way they are all expected to makes all of this a lot more galling than it otherwise was.

At the same time, though, I don’t begrudge Tebow getting paid. He’s going to make the Mets that $100K back one way or the other. Even if he’s not going to do it via his baseball skills.


And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Because I had to renew my Gen-X card, I watched “High Fidelity” last night. It was either that, “Singles,” or “Reality Bites.” The Gen-X Commission also allows you to complete a musical equivalent for license renewal if you want, but there’s some Red Hot Chili Peppers on that test and, frankly, no one needs that.

Anyway, I’ve seen “High Fidelity” a zillion times, but not for many, many years. I’ll observe that the soundtrack, one of the best ever, continues to hold up in amazing fashion. I’ll also allow that, overall, it remains a good movie. It’s a different kind of good movie now, though, because once you reach a certain age and place in life — an age and place I’ve apparently reached since the last time I saw it — you realize how much of a miserable jackass Rob is. I mean, he always was a bit of one. His self-loathing is earned and acknowledged. But at some point the balance shifted and I watched the movie wondering why on Earth Laura would go back to him, and even hoping there was some alternate cut in which she wouldn’t, even if Ian is the absolute worst. Rob has a lot of problems that weren’t gonna be fixed by him giving some “I’m tired of trying to find the perfect woman but I don’ t get tired of you so I guess I’ll settle for you” speech and then going back to DJing. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 5, Rays 4: Tyler Austin hit a walkoff homer and Brian McCann homered twice and the Yankees win their fifth in a row as they make an improbable playoff push. The nickname the Yankees have been given — the Baby Boomers, Bombers as a nod to their young, power-hitting players — is pretty good I suppose. Related: Baby Boomers have to watch “The Big Chill” to get their license renewed. Which reminds me: “High Fidelity” has a line in it about how the Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is disqualified from one of their lists “because of its involvement with “The Big Chill.” Which is hilarious given that “High Fidelity” itself has become a pretty cliche generational signifier. Do Millennials disqualify “Cold Blooded Old Times” by Smog from their lists the same reasons? God, I hope not. That’s a jam. And what movies will Millennials have to watch in order to get their generational licenses renewed someday?

Brewers 12, Cardinals 5: Milwaukee has won seven of eight. Hernan Perez had four hits and three RBI. Domingo Santana and Arcia hit back-to-back homers in the second inning and the Brew Crew put up a six-run sixth inning. Arcia on his homer:

“I just went out there looking for a pitch I could hit hard, looking for my pitch. I was able to get one and hit it hard and get it out.”

The homer came off of Jaime Garcia who, I presume, was “just trying to make some pitches.” All of this really makes me wonder: Do I listen to these ballplayer cliches because I am miserable? Or am I miserable because I listen to ballplayer cliches?

Indians 10, Astros 7: The big story from this game was Jim Joyce and the umpiring crew somehow turning a foul ball into a two-run wild pitch. I’m not sure why a ball hitting a bat or not isn’t a reviewable play — it’s about as objective as you can get — but it isn’t. Beyond that, Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer, Francisco Lindor had three RBI and Abraham Almonte hit a two-run triple.

Phillies 4, Nationals 1: Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer, Peter Bourjos hit a solo shot and Alec Asher, returning to the bigs after missing most of the season due to a drug suspension, pitched six innings of two-hit ball. Asher after the game:

“Everything’s in the past now. It’s unfortunate what happened. There’s nothing I can do but come up here and pitch now. Happy to be back and looking to stay.”

You’re allowed to put your PED problems in the past in Major League Baseball. As long as people didn’t hate you before your drug problems. Then you’ll constantly be reminded of it for the rest of your days.

Pirates 4, Reds 1: Ivan Nova pitched a complete game, allowing one run on six hits. He’s 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven starts since coming over to Pittsburgh from New York. He’s gonna make bank on the very thin free agent market this winter. He’s the guy who will sign a big deal which will make your friends who only vaguely follow baseball ask you “who in the HELL is Ivan Nova? Man, baseball is broken if some NOBODY can make that kind of money!” Don’t hang out with people like that by the way. They’re miserable.

Mariners 6, Rangers 3Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer late to turn a one-run game into a three-run game. Dae-Ho Lee added a solo shot. Taijuan Walker wasn’t horrible. That was enough.

Padres 14, Rockies 1: San Diego put up a seven-run third inning and it was off to the races after that. Ryan Schimpf drove in four via a two-run homer and a two-run double.

If you need me, I’ll be off making top-5 lists and hoping some woman settles for me because she’s too tired to find someone else and then being considered a romantic hero for that. Man.

Stephen Strasburg has a strained flexor mass

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Nationals stater Stephen Strasburg left last night’s start after feeling a pinch in his elbow. This after a sting on the DL with elbow soreness. This is a scary for any pitcher, but it’s especially scare for a pitcher with a Tommy John surgery in his rear view mirror.

Strasburg had an MRI today and the results are in. It’s better news than might’ve been expected: a strained flexor mass. You may not know what that is (note: they are tendons in your forearm that help you move your fingers) but the takeaway here is that it’s not his UCL, which is the ligament that made Tommy John famous.

There is no timetable for Strasburg’s return and there won’t be one until swelling goes down. That means that his status for the playoffs is unclear. It all depends on how he responds to rest.

UPDATE: I was just reminded that the Nationals thought Strasburg had a strained flexor tendon in 2010 too. Right before he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Yikes.