Craig Calcaterra


The Royals extend qualifying offer to Alex Gordon, pick up and decline several options


The Kansas City Royals are probably just now sobering up from their victory parade. It was great fun, I’m sure, but now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. And they just did: They just announced that they’ve picked up options on Alcides Escobar and Wade Davis, while declining their option on Jonny Gomes. They also announced that they will extend a qualifying offer to Jonny Gomes.

None of these moves are remotely surprising. Gordon’s option would’ve been $13.75 million, he obviously wants more than that if he opted out and the qualifying offer right now is around $15.8 million, so extending one is a no-brainer. Likewise Escobar and Davis’ options —  $5.25 million and $8 million, respectively — are so low for the value they receive from those players that it’s, like, a no-brainer times ten to pick them up.

As for Gomes: now he goes and roams the Earth, looking for another team. A place where, next spring, he’ll be talked about as a savior and clubhouse leader and next fall he’ll probably be at another World Series parade because that’s just sort of how Jonny Gomes rolls at this point.

Lance Berkman says tolerance is bad, claims he has been “persecuted”

Lance Berkman

As we noted before the election, Lance Berkman cut some ads in favor of an ultimately successful campaign to defeat an anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston which would prohibit bias in housing, employment, city contracting and business services for 15 protected classes, including race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. Hundreds of cities have such ordinances.

Opponents of the ordinance had a number of legal and procedural objections to it based on how it was passed, its breadth and no small amount of political intrigue surrounding it over the previous couple of years, but the main rhetoric of the campaign didn’t focus on such things, probably because such things are complicated.

Rather, opponents latched on to the gender identity provision and centered their campaign around the notion that it would allow men to claim to be women, enter women’s restrooms and attack everyone’s wives and daughters. Really, that was the campaign. And that was the substance of the ads that Berkman cut. Such claims, by the way, are entirely fabricated as there have been zero reported cases of transgender people attacking people in bathrooms, locker rooms and the like. Rather than questions of legislative breadth or overreach, it was basically about vilifying transgender people and fear-mongering.

Following the defeat of the ordinance, Berkman gave an interview about it and about the feedback he received for his participation in the campaign, which he calls “digital persecution.” He went on:

To me tolerance is the virtue that’s killing this country. We’re tolerant of everything. You know, everything is okay, and as long as you want to do it and as long as it feels good to you then it’s perfectly acceptable do it. Those are the kinds of things that lead you down a slippery slope, and you’ll get in trouble in a hurry.

Lance Berkman was raised and trained to hit baseballs, not be an expert on theories of government so I don’t expect him to be a deft student of political theory. However even a basic understanding of civil society makes it clear that the “everything is okay, and as long as you want to do it” thing is what most people call “freedom” and “liberty” and the limits we place on that as a society are “unless they harm others.”

Berkman probably does know that much actually, as the ads he cut all attempted — quite desperately — to point out a harm (i.e. the safety of women and children) that he felt outweighed the freedoms involved (i.e. the right of people to assert a gender identity, have it recognized and to use public facilities like any other human being). Of course it’s a 100% invented harm, the likes of which have never been reported anywhere. But hey, better err on the paranoid side than to dare engage in such dastardly things as “tolerance.”

Beyond that, I think it’s safe to say that as a rich and famous person who is of the dominant race, gender and sexual orientation in our country and as a member of the majority religion in every place he’s ever lived, Lance Berkman has not suffered anything approaching “persecution” in his life, digital or otherwise. What he has experienced is what political scientists call “criticism,” and for that no one sheds any tears. Especially when the basis for such criticism is so very well-founded.

Matt Harvey, Prince Fielder win Comeback Player of the Year Awards

Matt Harvey

You never want to be a candidate for the Comeback Player of the Year Award — it means bad stuff happened, right? — but if you do find yourself needing to bounce back  it sure must feel like some good validation to win it. This year’s two winners were just announced: Matt Harvey in the NL, Prince Fielder in the AL.

Harvey missed the entire 2014 season following Tommy John surgery. And, while there were controversies regarding his usage by the Mets, he had a great comeback season. He posted a 2.71 ERA in 29 regular-season starts and struck out 188 batters in 189.1 regular season innings. He likewise pitched four times in the playoffs, including an excellent, though ultimately losing, Game 5.

Fielder appeared in just 42 games last season before requiring season-ending surgery on his neck in 2014. He came back and put up a .305/.378/.463 line with 23 home runs and 98 RBI while playing in 158 games and helping the Rangers win the American League West.

Normally a player who missed an entire year and then put up .250/.356/.486 with 33 homers at age 40 would get strong consideration, but I suppose that when your name is Alex Rodriguez and the reason you missed a year was because of your own malfeasance, that’s gonna count against you with the voters.