Author: Craig Calcaterra

Joe Maddon

Who will win the Manager of the Year Awards tonight?


Night two of the BBWAA Awards is tonight, and the Managers of the Year will be announced in both the AL and the NL just after 6pm Eastern time. The finalists were announced a week ago. They are Terry Collins, Joe Maddon and Mike Matheny in the National League and Jeff Banister, A.J. Hinch and Paul Molitor in the American League.

In early October I broke down this race, making a case for who should win and a guess as to who will win. As I made clear in that post, however, the Manager of the Year Award is not really a matter suitable for analysis and prediction in the way the other awards are. A manager’s success is insanely dependent on his team’s talent level and health and, just because an otherwise good manager’s team doesn’t fare well doesn’t mean they somehow forgot how to manage well. If you do better with what outsiders thought you had six months earlier, hooray, you’re the manager of the year.

And so it is here. The Mets and Cubs have men who are widely perceived to be excellent managers at the helm but were considered to be less-than-ready for true contention. Most figured the Mets were a potential wild card team and it turns out they won the NL East before ballots were submitted. Most thought the Cubs wouldn’t be a playoff team for a year or two at least, and they won 97 games. Mike Matheny was expected to have a strong contender and more than fulfilled those expectations with a 100-win season but did so despite injuries to key players. A month or so ago I figured that Maddon would win and maybe should, but Collins is a great choice given the parameters typically used by voters. Injuries notwithstanding, Matheny will likely fall victim to the same implicit argument Joe Girardi usually does: “hey, your team is SUPPOSED to win!”

In the AL we have a more traditional setup: three new managers who took over teams perceived to be non-contenders at the beginning of the year but which greatly exceeded expectations. Hinch was considered a disaster of a manager in Arizona but one good year later and he’s new looked on in a new light. Molitor and Bannister had no track record. All three could turn out to be the Next Great Managers in Baseball History, about which books are written, but now their calling card is, primarily, having exceeded those expectations. Any could win. I have no idea who should. If I had to guess I’d say Banister, but it’s really a pick ’em.

Willie Mays, Yogi Berra to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It was just announced that Willie Mays and Yogi Berra will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama on November 24. Berra’s will be posthumous, of course.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the White House, the award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The last baseball winner was Ernie Banks, in 2013.

For a reminder of just how much more Yogi Berra was than the cute, funny legend he somehow became by the end of this life, please read my remembrance of Berra from just after his passing. For Mays’ life and accomplishments, check out this biography over at SABR.

Other recipients this year: Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Bonnie Carroll, Emilio Estefan, Lee Hamilton, Katherine G. Johnson, Barbara Mikulski, Itzhak Perlman and William Ruckelshaus. Other posthumous recipients will be Shirley Chisholm, Billy Frank Jr. and Minoru Yasui.

There is a football field in Fenway Park

fenway park seats getty

I try not to judge. Everyone can do what they want within reason I guess, as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. This is a free country and we all have the right to express ourselves how we want to and to associate with who we want to.

But there are just certain laws of nature which shouldn’t be messed with. And this is simply unnatural:


This is for the Notre Dame-Boston College game on Nov. 21.  Here’s a time-lapse of how they transformed the field from baseball — as GOD intended it — to football, which in this particular context is an even greater abomination than it already is.


Here’s hoping the clergy who works for these two fine universities perform whatever rites are required to turn Fenway Park back into what it was intended to be before April.

MLB sells “Groupie” shoes for women

A couple eye the camera with confusion and mistrust, circa 1950. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

I decided to spend some time today looking at the absolute saddest page on the Internet: the clearance section from the Braves’ store.

There’s all kinds of despair and/or schadenfreude to be found there, depending on your point of view. Jerseys and shirts from players who were just traded or, in some cases, traded a year ago. A Freddie Freeman shirt, the presence of which gave me a heart attack before I realized that it was likely on there because it’s an ugly design, not because he was traded (he’s still a Brave!). A lot of “We Own The East” stuff which is entering its third year in inventory and becomes increasingly comical as time goes on.

But then I found something less funny than it was highly annoying and offensive. Get these “Groupie” shoes:

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.27.09 PM

And it’s not just the Braves who have them, by the way. The Tigers, Yankees and some other teams do too, in various styles:

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.57.43 PM

The source of the name appears to be the shoe’s manufacturer, Cuce Shoes (h/t to Maura Johnston). Cuce’s product description reveals that the “Groupie” designation is specifically because it’s team-logo inspired, and that they’re for “anyone looking to make a statement on game day,” and ends with “Let the games begin!”

What games, exactly, it doesn’t say, but Cuce and MLB’s marketing of these shoes seems to be yet the latest example of abject sexism aimed at female sports fans. Along with licensed women’s and girls t-shirts and sports wear with “Talent Scout” written on them — and unlicensed products which label the wearer as a “cleat chaser” — the name for these shoes fit right in with and reinforce the idea that women cannot be serious fans. That they’re only in it for the ballplayer beefcake.

Major League Baseball wonders why its fan base skews old and male and wonders why it can’t attract young people. Perhaps it’s because Major League Baseball, at least in its marketing decisions, reveals its contempt for those fans and its apparent lack of discomfort with contributing to their objectification.

There’s nothing wrong with the shoes themselves, of course. Some women I follow on Twitter said that they’d probably consider wearing them, all things being equal. For some people shoes are fun, baseball fans included. In light of that I can’t help but think that these shoes wouldn’t be on the clearance rack if they were named something that didn’t implicitly call their owners degrading names.

UPDATE: Jen Mac Ramos contacted Cuce, asking for an explanation. The company responded thusly:

I have been on this Earth for 42 years and have never heard the word “groupie” used in the manner in which they describe there. Indeed, it almost always has a connotation of an almost obsessive fan, more fixated on the player or artist than the performance or game, with derogatory undertones. But hey, you go with that Cuce.

Who should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who will?

Francisco Lindor

Note: This post originally ran on October 2. With tonight’s announcement of the Rookie of the Year Award, it’s a good time to revisit and review.

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

This race is super close, with two candidates with nearly identical credentials. In this case it’s even harder as the top two candidates are at the same position: Shortstop (apologies to Miguel Sano who, while hitting the daylights out of the ball hasn’t played nearly as much as the top two candidates and has no defensive value).

Carlos Correa burst onto the scene in Houston in early June at the tender age of 20 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .277/.343/.504 with 21 homers and 63 driven in in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 130. That’s crazy power for a 20 (now 21) year-old and crazy power for a shortstop of any age.

Francisco Lindor burst onto the scene in Cleveland in mid June at the tender age of 21 and proceeded to beat the living hell out of baseballs. His line: .319/.357/.491 with 21 doubles, 12 homers and 51 RBI in a mere 96 games and an OPS+ of 125. That’s not quite Correa power but it’s better contact and on-base stuff and amazing production for a shortstop of any age.

Quite even to be sure, but the separator here is defense. Correa is no liability, but he’s pretty ordinary with the glove so far. Lindor, however, has been a superior shortstop both according to the numbers and to the naked eye. His arrival in Cleveland totally changed the game for the Tribe this year, transforming them from underachievers to a team that made a serious run for a playoff spot. If Lindor had been there all year it’s not crazy to think that they’d be in the wild card game next week.

Lindor’s offense is a bit of a surprise this year. He really wasn’t expected to hit like this right out of the gate. And he may not hit like this forever, in which case Correa may prove to be the better player going forward, be it as a shortstop or a third baseman, which is where I think he’ll ultimately end up. But the Rookie of the Year award is not about projections and potential. It’s about what the rookies did. And given there more or less even offensive contributions and Lindor’s superior leather, he’s the guy who should take the hardware home.

Who will win the AL Rookie of the year Award?

Historically there has been less narrative nonsense infecting Rookie of the Year award voting than other award voting. Prospect politics haven’t played into it too much. Very often Rookies of the Year come from losing teams — how else would they have gotten the opportunity for so much PT? — and thus the winning team narrative isn’t as prominent. This year, however, I feel like that stuff will be a bigger factor than in the past, mostly because so many rookies have played such a big part in pennant races.

The Indians entry into the wild card race came late and it came quite a bit after early season Astros Mania took hold. Sure, Correa joined the Astros after much of that mania took hold and even after the Astros themselves began to play a bit worse, but he’s been largely associated with the big surprise season in particular and the Astros’ bright future in general. Between that and Cleveland being one of the lowest profile teams in all of baseball year-in, year-out, it would not surprise me at all if some voters overlook Lindor a bit. For this reason I feel like Correa will win it, even if Lindor would be my guy.


Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

This was a much closer race earlier in the year but Kris Bryant and his .279/.369/.475 line, 26 homers and, by the end of this weekend, most likely, 100+ RBI have separated themselves from the pack. It seems like ages ago that everyone was all in a tizzy about the Cubs leaving him in Iowa at the start of the season for service time manipulation purposes. Now all he is is a huge part of the Cubs’ big year and, by far, the highest profile and highest achieving rookie in the NL.

Not that he’s alone “in the conversation.” But that term is in quotes because it’s not truly a big conversation. Matt Duffy of the Giants has had a fine year and, before he went down with that ugly injury, Jung Ho Kang was having an equally fine year. Duffy, also a third baseman, is the better fielder than Bryant, but Bryant hasn’t embarrassed himself there, allowing his offensive advantages to give him the inside track to the award.

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

Bryant. And I don’t think it’ll be a particularly close vote.