Craig Calcaterra

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

Must-Click Link: The story behind Rick Monday rescuing the American Flag

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A lot of baseball fans know the basics of the story. Rick Monday, then the center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, was playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 25, 1976. Forty years ago today. Two fans rushed out from the stands, knelt down in the outfield and attempted to set fire to an American flag they had with them. Monday, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve and a patriot, rushed over and snatched the flag away, saving it from destruction.

That alone makes for a pretty cool story. Monday may be just as famous for that as he is for his fine playing career and years as a Dodgers broadcaster. But as is so often the case, there is more to the story than just its most famous angle.

Over at Vice Sports, David Davis digs deeper into the Rick Monday flag rescue. He talks to Monday, who explains what was motivating him and why, to this day, the incident still irks him. He researched and explored the story of the man who took the iconic photograph of the incident and talks about his strange and tragic life. He attempted to interview the man who, along with this 11-year-old son, tried to burn the flag, but they weren’t talking. He did, however, find out more about their life, also sad in some ways, than we’ve previously known.

America in the mid-1970s was a country entering a midlife crisis. And when someone is having a midlife crisis, strange things can happen. Many years later, however, you can look back and see it all a bit more clearly. This is a very good look in that regard.

Rays owner loves that Tampa is putting money in the Yankees spring training complex

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Ever hear about some good news happening to someone else and experience mixed feelings? That “wow, I am truly happy for them,” sentiment mingling with “Gah, why don’t good things happen to me?!” No? Just me and other shallow people? Well, be happy then. It happens to a lot of us, even if we’re trying to be bigger, better people.

It even happens to baseball teams. Like the Rays, who are hellbent on getting someone in the Tampa Bay area to build them a new ballpark in a few years. Here is their owner’s reaction to Hillsborough County, Florida plunking $40 million into the Yankees spring training facility:

“Any money going toward baseball in Florida is fine by me,” he said. “It’s about the sport. It’s good for the spot. It shows that Hillsborough is committed to and sees the value of baseball in their midst.”

He was then asked if that money could have been used toward a new stadium for the Rays and he was diplomatic about it. But he sure sounded like people sound when that person they sort of know and respect professionally gets that job they were up for themselves. They are so very, very happy and it is a good thing in general . . . but . . . nothing. No, it’s OK. I’m really, really happy for you.

Twins promote Alex Meyer, send Byron Buxton down

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Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the Twins are promoting Alex Meyer.

Meyer used to be a starter than got switched to a relief role and now is starting again. Control has always been an issue for him but he throws hard. He pitched in two big league games last year and got clobbered. This year in Triple-A so far he’s pitched in three games, starting two, and has struck out 19 guys and only walked four in seventeen and a third innings. Perhaps he’s finally put it all together.

UPDATE: It wasn’t just a big name coming up. It was a big name going down: the Twins optioned Byron Buxton and Max Kepler to Triple-A Rochester as part of the Meyer recall. Buxton, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, has struggled mightily in the early going, with only seven hits in 45 at bats in 49 plate appearances this year. With his time up last year he’s hitting .195/.239/.316 in 187 major league plate appearances. That won’t cut it. He needs more time.