Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Shelby Miller is malfunctioning

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about the guy who is probably the biggest bust of all of the players who were involved in prominent offseason transactions: Shelby Miller.

Miller, who was traded from Atlanta to Arizona for a VERY big package of players over the winter, has been stinkin’ it up for the Diamondbacks, posting a 1-3 record and a 7.36 ERA in seven starts. He leads the league in walks issued with 21. And he’s only struck out 20 batters. Any way you slice it, it’s a mess.

The article is framed via Miller’s return to Atlanta last weekend, where he faced the Braves. In it some of his former Braves teammates talk about how perplexed they are that Miller hasn’t been doing well. Dave Stewart and the Diamondbacks, however, continue to say that Miller will come around. Stewart says that if he had to do the trade over again right now he would. Which, well, of course he’d say that.

I did get a chuckle from it all, however, given that Miller’s best start of the season came on Saturday against the Braves. As a result I pictured the whole situation like the sale of a bad appliance or something with the Braves being the salesmen.

Diamondbacks: “Hey, this thing you sold me? It doesn’t work.”

Braves: “That’s crazy, it’s top notch! You got a bargain!”

Diamondbacks: “I’m tellin’ ya, it’s defective.”

Braves: “Bring it here.”

[Miller pitches fantastically against the Braves, gets the win]

Braves: “See? Like I told ya, top notch. Workin’ just fine as far as I can tell. No refunds.”

Diamondbacks: [grumbling]

Noah Syndergaard had his elbow examined on May 1

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He was throwing triple-digit gas and launching bombs last night, but May hasn’t been all peaches and cream for Mets starter Noah Syndergaard.

Last night after the Mets-Dodgers game manager Terry Collins revealed that Syndergaard underwent an elbow exam two weeks ago. Collins mentioned it when asked why he didn’t let Syndergaard pitch the ninth inning of last night’s game despite having thrown only 95 pitches.

The elbow exam showed nothing troubling, but it’s notable that the Mets felt the need to have one done in the first place. And it’s probably worth watching, if not just for Syndergaard’s actual health, but to see if he’s used differently and more conservatively by the Mets as the season goes on.

MLB is encouraging teams to put accent marks on players’ names on their uniforms

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Yesterday a little story was circulating about how Adrian Gonzalez‘ name on the back of his jersey finally, after many years, has accent mark over the “a”. On social media he challenged teammate Enrique Hernandez to do the same, and Hernandez followed suit.

Some Latin players around the league have had accents and tildes on their uniforms before, some haven’t. There’s certainly no uniformity to it and, in keeping with most clerical and media practices, you see accent-free last names in the U.S. more often than you see the accents. Places like this website included (more on that below).

But Major League Baseball is urging teams to change this practice. Or, at the very least, to accommodate players who request a change. Paul Lukas of ESPN has the relevant text of a memo that was sent out to teams before the season regarding all of this:

It’s a nice initiative in response to a situation which, while not exactly the most serious of problems facing the Hispanic community in the U.S., is a fairly obvious one. And an occasionally ambiguous one. It’s a matter of spelling — accent marks and tildes are just as much a part of a properly-spelled Spanish word or name as an “a” or an “r” is — but it’s also a matter of preference. Some people who have accents in their names prefer the accent to carry over when their name is written in English language media or on signs or shirts or whatever. Some don’t or don’t care.

As far as the media goes, it’s also a matter of historical practice and house style. The Associated Press Stylebook, for example, tells writers not use accent marks on Hispanic names in English-language stories, though it does use them in Spanish-language stories. Historically there were technological reasons for this — English typewriters, printing presses and earlier generation word processing programs didn’t uniformly support accents and tildes — but that’s largely not the case anymore, suggesting it’s a matter of inertia.

It’s also simply a matter of work. Official sources of names — company rosters, mastheads, organizational charts, etc. — may not have the accents themselves, and reporters often rely on those sources for a spelling of a person’s name. Is it reasonable for them to track down a person to see if that’s correct or if their preference is different? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the story, I suppose. As far as this site goes, we have the option of looking at a handful of primary or quasi-primary sources for player names if we ever feel like looking them up. They’re not uniform either. MLB.com’s 25-man roster listing for the Dodgers shows Gonzalez with no accent. Baseball-Reference.com includes the accents on Gonzalez’s name, but it didn’t back when most of us starting using it (that site also has phonetic spellings of most player names). ESPN’s Player Card page for Gonzalez does not nor, amusingly, does this ESPN story talking about Gonzalez getting the accent on his jersey). Fangraphs: no accent. Rotoworld: no accent.

Even if you have the sourcing down, there’s also the issue of simple typing speed. To make “Adrian Gonzalez” into Adrián González, I just had to type “Option-E” and then the letter A, which sort of stops the flow. I think the only player I ever make a habit of doing this for is Enrique Hernandez, when using the short version of his first name, which is Kiké. And that’s just so it doesn’t type out like an anti-semitic slur (other baseball writers and I have admitted to one another that we use “Enrique” more often simply to avoid the hassle of the accent). Either way, it doesn’t come up enough to where I can readily remember the keys I need to type to make the accent (I always have to look it up) let alone make it part of my normal typing routine. I’m guessing a lot of writers are in this same situation, even before factoring in the sourcing issue.

All of which is a lot of words about accent marks in names, but it’s a pretty interesting topic so that’s OK. I’m not sure media practice will change very quickly in this regard nor do I think it can change quickly even if everyone wanted it to. But the jerseys can change quickly. And it’s a good thing that the league is encouraging clubs to change them if the player so desires.