Craig Calcaterra

Alex Rodriguez

Professional baseball player excoriated for attempting to get into baseball shape during the offseason

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As any HBT reader knows, there is a cottage industry devoted to stories about baseball players getting into shape in the offseason. Claims are made about workout regimens, photos of slimmed-down or bulked-up players are posted to social media and the notion that so-and-so is in The Best Shape of His Life is used, almost uniformly, as a means of either praising a player for his work ethic or suggesting that, perhaps, his recent struggles are a thing of the past and that he’ll be newly productive in the coming year.

But for one player, reports that he is working out and trying to best prepare himself for the upcoming season are evidence that he is a conniving and manipulative S.O.B. and just what in the HELL is he trying to pull?!  Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Klapisch:

Surely Alex Rodriguez had a reason for recently posting Instagram pictures of himself hitting in the cage and taking grounders. A-Rod was sending a message to the Yankees, no mystery there. The real question is whether he thinks he can change anyone’s mind about playing third base – or just playing, period . . . Is that why those pictures found their way to Instagram? To let Joe Girardi know it’s going to be an uncomfortable camp?

The Instagram pictures in question can be seen here. There are only two of them (other workout pictures there are from a year ago). In one he is taking groundballs, with the caption “back where I started.” Referring quite clearly to Christopher Columbus High School, on whose field he is taking said grounders. The other is him in a batting cage, with the caption “Starting the year in the cage.”

The fallout to these pictures as been comical. In addition to Kalpisch’s conviction here that A-Rod is trying to cause trouble are stories from the other New York tabloids about how “A-Rod didn’t get the memo” that he’s not the Yankees starting third baseman anymore, and thus him taking some grounders MUST be evidence of either his stupidity or his manipulation. This despite the fact the writers of these stories all acknowledge that Rodriguez, even if he is not the Yankees’ starting third baseman, may serve as a backup option for Chase Headley at third and, if injuries or other things happen, may be asked to play some first base.

Alex Rodriguez is a professional baseball player. He is under contract. There is a chance that he may play some defense in the coming year, even if that’s not he’ll be asked to do on a regular basis. What’s more, he’s been out of baseball for a while and is getting old for a baseball player, which one would think necessitates being in the best shape he can possibly manage simply to hold his own. It would be a story if he was not working out. That the fact that he is working out is now a story tells you way more about the people writing about him than it tells about him.

Hall voter thinks Mike Piazza isn’t a Hall of Famer even if you ignore PED issues

10 METS FAYTOK
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Rob Parker is a Hall of Fame voter because he has been a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for at least ten years. Those are the requirements. Nowhere in the BBWAA or Hall of Fame rules does it say that one need have any level of baseball expertise and insight. All one needs is that BBWAA card for a decade.

Which is lucky for Rob Parker if this is indicative of his baseball expertise and insight! Via Deadspin, here’s why Parker did not vote for Mike Piazza:

I just looked at his numbers, I thought they were very good. There’s a lot of guys very good. Fred McGriff’s not in the Hall of Fame, he’s a few home runs away, three home runs away, from 500. He has way more RBIs than Piazza, he’s not in the Hall of Fame. So there are guys like him. And I know, it’s the catching position, and people want to give more credit because it’s so hard to catch and play, but some of the defensive issues—not throwing out runners, no Gold Gloves as a catcher, things like that—that bothered me. I thought he’s a great hitter, he was a great hitter, batted over .300, but something told me he belongs in the Hall of Fame—or, Very Good, but not the Hall of Fame.

Parker voted for Lee Smith, by the way.

Just to be clear once again: Parker makes it very clear that he does not hold PEDs against Piazza or any other player. And I believe him on that, actually. Based on other things he’s said in the past, I honestly think Parker’s issues when it comes to awards and Hall of Fame voting is one of basic ignorance of what makes baseball players good, not hidden agendas. And no, I’m not being glib here. I honestly think that Parker fundamentally doesn’t understand baseball.

I mean, if one did understand baseball, and one did not take PED rumors into account, how else could one say that Mike Piazza isn’t a Hall of Famer?

The Columbus Clippers and Eugene Emeralds are wagering on the college football championship game

OSU OU
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If you think major league baseball is slow in January, imagine if you have to work the minor league beat. If you do, at least there’s this: the Columbus Clippers — who play in the same town as the Ohio State Buckeyes — and the Eugene Emeralds — who play in the same town as the Oregon Ducks — are making a friendly wager.

Forgive the Ohio-centric wording of this, Ducks fans and Buckeyes-haters, but it came from the Clippers’ website:

The losing team will participate in their city’s Polar Bear Plunge event. So when the Buckeyes win on Monday, January 12, the Emeralds staff, while wearing a mixture of Ohio State and Clippers gear, would participate in Polar Plunge Eugene on February 7 at Maurie Jacobs Park. If the Buckeyes happen to lose, the Clippers staff, while wearing a mixture of Oregon and Emeralds gear, would participate in Columbus Polar Plunge on February 21 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The event will be documented on the team’s social media accounts.

Seems a tad unfair given that the average temperature is way lower in Columbus than it is in Eugene this time of year, but I suppose that’s not our problem.

They’re calling this a “Pass a Cold One” wager and will benefit each team’s local chapter of the Special Olympics.

Jayson Werth to have shoulder surgery tomorrow

Jayson Werth Getty
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Ken Rosenthal reports that Jayson Werth will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint of his right shoulder tomorrow. His rehab is expected to be two to three months.

Werth had a fine season last year, but he has battled shoulder issues for a good while. He battled shoulder soreness all last year in fact, missing games in August and getting cortisone shots and stuff. If he misses two months he’ll have a late start on spring training. If he misses three months he won’t being baseball activities until after the season starts. And that’s before remembering that he has to, you know, go to jail at some point.

Which makes one wonder if this means the Nats will look to make a trade or try to sign a stopgap corner outfielder.

Progressive Field named the most family-friendly ballpark in the country

Progressive Field
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There is a magazine called “ABC Travel Guides for Kids.” For reasons that must include proximity to Cedar Point over in Sandusky and the well-known love all children have for panini sandwiches, it has named Cleveland its number one travel destination for kids in 2015. And it went one step further: it says “Progressive Field might be the most family friendly ballpark in the country.”

It’s possible. I haven’t yet taken my kids up to Cleveland for a game, but I’ve been there often and (a) tickets aren’t terribly expensive; (b) concessions skew cheaper than most parks; (c) it’s fairly easy-in, easy-out; and (d) they do a lot of fireworks and family nights and things. Their current renovation is expanding family areas too.

I’ve only taken my kids to two major league parks — Petco and Great American Ballpark — and both of those were pretty good along those lines. But I guess I need to take ’em to an Indians game this summer and put this to the test.