Baseball

The Houston Astros Lost Their Chance to Avoid Meeting Donald Trump

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The Houston Astros won their first World Series title, but they lost something tonight.

Instead of being able to celebrate their victory, they now have to plan for a future meeting with Donald Trump.

Instead of being proud of their city and their team, they now have to plan for the moment where Trump confuses them with the Yankees and offers to show them his slider.

Instead of being pleased with their victory, they now have to submit paperwork to prove that no one was born in Chad.

Instead of being able to plan for a terrific off-season where they can relax with their families, they now have to undergo the traumatic process of answering millions of questions about whether they will actually go to the White House and what they will say to Trump.

Instead of the team's foreign-born players being able to feel good about winning a World Championship, they now have to contend with the fact that Trump is America's best-known white supremacist president and that he may get confused and deport them and their families.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to sleep easy tonight. For the Houston Astros, the Trump dreams have just begun.

San Francisco is How Many Games Out of First Place?

It's not even the All Star Break, and the San Francisco Giants are how many games back? 

Holy cow.

I can't remember when they have ever been this far out of contention, and I'm sure it has happened, but that's what struck me about today's look at the baseball standings. I'm not a fan nor am I a detractor, but, whatever they're doing isn't working. At all.

I get why Philly is so bad, but the Giants?

Anyway, that's my hot take on something I just did not expect to see.

The Texas Rangers Need a New Stadium

The shelf life for a baseball stadium is now about 25 years:

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas Rangers and the city of Arlington Texas are set to announce that the Rangers will soon be getting a new, retractable-roof ballpark to replace their current home, Globe Life Park.

Their current lease on Globe Life expires in 2024 and can be ended a year early by the club at its discretion, but Grant says the new ballpark will be up and operating before that. He says that construction of the park would be subject to an election by Arlington voters, likely to approve the dedication of sales taxes and other public revenues to the project. Ownership of the park would be split between Arlington and the ball club.

Globe Life Park, previously The Ballpark at Arlington, opened in 1994. That was relatively early in the stadium building boom of the 1990s-2000s, making it tied for 11th oldest among current ballparks. Age, however, is not so much of an issue as the park is in fine shape. Nor is location, as Arlington has been and remains the sports stadium capital of the Metroplex and continues to have multiple projects in the works making it a sports and entertainment destination.

Rather, the issue is heat and the depression of attendance and revenues the current open-air stadium experiences in the hot, hot summers of north Texas, even when the Rangers are winning. When the Ballpark at Arlington the cost of a retractable roof was seen as prohibitive and the technology of such beasts was nowhere near as advanced as it is today. As such, the choice to eschew a roof was understandable, even if has led to a couple of decades of Rangers fans sweltering in sometimes dangerous heat.

They didn't know it was hot in Texas in 1994? They spent $191 million dollars to build it and it is still in good shape. Someone somewhere probably knows how to retrofit and cool a stadium for way less than the nearly a billion dollars it will take to replace a perfectly good ballpark. I realize that they're never going to accept the concept of global warming in Texas, but, honestly--what a waste of resources.

There is No One Better Than Vin Scully

Vin Scully is the voice of baseball. You can drop into a broadcast here and there this season--if the Dodgers are at home, and you can get the feed by subscribing to the MLB package on your cable provider, you can hear the man himself, still.

I cannot envision what it will be like when this season is over and he retires. If you're looking for a listicle of things to amuse yourself, here you go.

Who Else is Tired of Curt Schilling?

If you're Curt Schilling, and you're already on thin ice, why would you get yourself fired like this?

On Wednesday evening, ESPN announced it had terminated the MLB analystfollowing repeated political discourse on his feed, which some tabbed as hate speech. Said the company in a statement: “ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Schilling met with ESPN management on Wednesday in Bristol, Conn., as he was scheduled to work Baseball Tonight on Wednesday night. The company declined to say the executive that delivered the news, but no such decision would be made without the approval of ESPN President John Skipper and ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Production John Wildhack.

For those unfamiliar with how we got here, Schilling apologized last September for his tweet comparing the number of Nazi sympathizers in Germany to the percentage of modern Muslim extremists. That tweet prompted ESPN to remove him from its Little League baseball coverage. He was then removed from ESPN’s postseason coverage following an exchange with editors of the sports blog Awful Announcing.

If your political activities and beliefs--which don't have anything to do with calling baseball games unless you've run out of ideas--have gotten you in this much trouble, the best thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to have a job.

Do you?

Then don't do stupid shit like this because, hello, it's 2016, nobody cares about your free speech bullshit, and when they fire you, you're not a victim. You're just dumb.

Really, these things are not hard to figure out.

Don't Forget to Feel Bad For the Fans


What's this nonsense?
Owners of two rooftop businesses overlooking Wrigley Field in Chicago went to court on Thursday hoping to stop the Cubs from installing a scoreboard and advertising signs that will block views into the stadium, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The owners of Lakeview Baseball Club and Skybox at Sheffield sued the Cubs and owner Tom Ricketts last month claiming that the team broke their agreement of a 20-year sharing contract and accused them of fixing ticket prices and violating the federal Sherman Antitrust Act.
The plaintiffs say the Cubs actions have created "life-or-death situation," claiming their businesses will suffer if the case makes it to trial.
The new ownership of the Chicago Cubs doesn't care. They want a new stadium but they're never going to get it because tradition and bullshit outweigh common sense. Wrigley Field, you're done and you don't know it yet. You were great when it was the 1950s and the games cost nothing to go and see.

This insane love affair with an outdated ballpark is threatening revenue streams. I get that people want to sit on some roof and look down into the ballpark from too far away--what's not fun about that?

Surely, there are 15 or 20 acres of abandoned property in the hell known as Chicago where they could build a domed stadium made of plastic to play in? Why not?


Bud Selig Has a Terrible Legacy


If you're a billionaire who owns a baseball team, everything you will read below is absolutely true:
Bud Selig is the greatest commissioner in baseball’s history. I and some others first claimed that about a year ago, and I see no reason to change that assessment. The executive summary of the Case for Bud, keeping in mind that his job has been to serve baseball as a sport and the owners as a favored constituency, not to make the general citizenry happy:
  • Since the 1994-95 strike, he has reigned over two decades of labor peace, with multiple collective bargaining agreements being ratified without a work stoppage;
  • Baseball’s attendance has skyrocketed, with teams averaging over 2.5 million tickets sold a year, whereas when he took over half the teams didn’t even draw two million;
  • Tremendous revenue growth. Baseball is now a nearly $10 billion a year industry. Revenues were just over a billion a year when he took over. More significantly to the owners, the value of franchises — the appreciation of which is how these guys make serious money — have gone through the roof;
  • A near complete turnover of the ballpark inventory in the game. With a couple of exceptions, every team that has wanted a new ballpark has gotten one and damn few of them have had to pay for most or, in a lot of cases, any of these palaces;
  • The successful adoption and exploitation of online media and online platforms which is unmatched in professional sports. Indeed, MLB Advanced Media serves as the digital platform for many other sports and entertainment outlets;
  • Innovations like the wild card, interleague play and expanded playoffs which, while distressing to baseball purists, have helped drive those revenue and ticket sales increases and — maybe more significantly — shook baseball out of the mindset that nothing can be changed in the game without an act of God and the ghost of Honus Wagner appearing to 18 of the 30 owners in a vision on the top of a mountain; and
  • The taming — relatively speaking — of the performance enhancing drug scourge that peaked in baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.
If you are a fan of baseball, congratulations for surviving the Bud Selig era. The game has abandoned many fans, especially anyone who considers themselves an actual fan of how the game was intended to be played.

Miami Marlins fans still don't show up to watch their team play. That's an accomplishment?

The game has robbed the public blind. The building of publicly-funded ballparks all over the country has come at the expense of local governments. They now have less money for education and infrastructure. Congratulations, baseball owners. You have looted the public treasury in order to make your franchise more valuable. Threats of contraction were concocted in order to throw up monuments to folly. No one who thinks rationally could conclude that having a city build your ballpark for you so you can watch the value of your franchise balloon up is an achievement. You didn't build that has never been more apt.

Instant replay? Really? That's an "achievement?" That's a cop-out.

Bud Selig has managed to move the Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League while moving the Houston Astros into the American League. The fact that Selig used to own the Brewers is irrelevant--baseball has been improved by these shenanigans, don't you see?

And steroids are consigned to the history of the game. You can see that in the fact that nobody hits that many home runs anymore. All that has been confirmed is this fact--cheating was far more rampant than previously understood. Congrats, baseball. Your record book should come with asterisks on the front.

Baseball is now a game played in front of white middle-class Americans by Hispanic players. You have to be fairly wealthy to see more than a few games in one season. And the diversity of the game has been all but eliminated.

Hail Bud.

There Are No Clocks in Baseball


Baseball, being a perfectly good game the way that it is already played, is played without a clock.

Yes, an umpire can urge the pace along in a game. An umpire can call bullshit on just about anything that looks like a delaying tactic or an attempt to buy some time. But the important thing to remember is that there is no clock.

Baseball is not sacrosanct nor is it precious. The game has changed over time and it will change. But there is still no clock.
A 20-second pitch clock will be used in Double-A and Triple-A games in 2015, reports Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi.
Major League Baseball owners are seeking changes with the players union concerning the pace of play during games, according to the report. But the majors will not use pitch clock this season.

Eventually, a pitch clock could be used by the majors as well, according to the report.

The owners could approve pace of play measures during meetings on Thursday, but nothing would be implemented until the players union signs off on it.
This attempt to speed up the game is just greed speaking through an effort to get people to watch the game and get excited. Someone somewhere is mad that they're not making more money because a game takes too long to play. So it's designed to get people to accelerate the thing--which is the game and how it is played--that was never designed to please owners, advertisers, businessmen or fools in the first place.

There's no goddamned clock in the game and now you think you can make money putting one in now?

Nope.

There is a strategy behind delaying the pace of the game. When a $125 million dollar pitcher blows out his arm struggling to keep pace with the pitch clock, then come and talk to me about the inherent wisdom of speeding up a game that never had a clock in it, ever.

Don't Lose the Ball in the Fog


I was mildly amused to see Wrigley Field and Cellular Whatever field where the White Sox play engulfed in fog. They did not call the game, as far as I know, and I don't know if the conditions were bad enough to cause them to lose track of the ball in the outfield, but it was an interesting sight to see on television. I didn't know that this was "commonplace" or if it is something that happens once or twice a year.

It's Chicago. Who cares?

3,000


Perhaps now we can just quit with the "Jeter has lost a step" nonsense and celebrate something decent for a change about baseball. Of course Jeter has lost a step. It's 2011. And the beauty of baseball is that a man can have a career that has an arc to it, and this is the moment when we forget that the arc is on the down side and applaud someone who has achieved baseball immortality.

The Greatest Hitter of His Generation?


Derek Jeter might be the best--and the cleanest--hitter of the modern era:

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is 25 hits away from the 3,000-hit club.
Jeter lined a bases-loaded single off of New York Mets hurler Mike Pelfrey in the bottom of the seventh to tie Sunday's Subway Series matchup at 3-3. The ground ball up the middle snuck underJose Reyes' glove and scored Brett Gardner andChris Dickerson.
"A lot of times it's not how hard you hit them, it's where you hit them," Jeter said.
The two-run single snapped Jeter's 0-for-21 skid with the bases loaded and sparked an eight-run seventh for the Yankees, who eventually won 9-3.
It gave Jeter two hits on Sunday, for the second day in a row and fourth time in five games.
Jeter now has 2,975 hits for his career. If and when Jeter reaches 3,000, he will be the first player to do so in a Yankee uniform. He will also be the 28th member to get to 3,000.

For all of the talk about whether he still has it, this milestone is a big deal. The fact that Jeter has gotten there without using performance-enhancing drugs puts him way ahead of his peers (and let's hope it remains a fact).

Don't Get Caught Stealing Signs

 

This old saw again?

 

 

The Philadelphia Phillies have won back-to-back NL pennants and were World Champions in 2008.
They have a talented roster, but is there more to their success than talent?
Major League Baseball issued a warning to the Phillies on Tuesday concerning accusations that bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was stealing signs during Monday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
"We have looked at the video and talked to the Phillies about the actions of their bullpen coach,’’ a Major League Baseball official told FOXSports.com.

 


Stealing signs is as old as the game itself. You're not supposed to get caught. That's pretty much the entirety of this issue. Yes, it happens. No, you're not supposed to do it. When you get caught, ouch.

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Posted via web from TalkingSmackAboutSports

I'll Tell You Who Dallas Braden Is

Dallas Braden, Oakland AsDallas Braden joins the immortals, sir:

Dallas Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history, shutting down the majors’ hottest team and leading the Oakland Athletics to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Braden threw his arms in the air after Gabe Kapler grounded out to shortstop for the final out. The closest the Rays got to a hit was Jason Bartlett’s liner to third leading off the game. Evan Longoria tried to bunt against Braden leading off the fifth, drawing boos from the small crowd.

“It’s without a doubt a team effort,” Braden said. “You got eight guys out there chasing balls and knocking balls down for me. So this is ours, not just mine, this is ours.”

Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game against the best team in baseball, as of today. He went up against a team that has been playing .750 baseball. 

Mr. A-Rod, if you walk on that pitcher's mound again, I hope he drills you in the ass and I hope everyone in the stadium laughs when you cry like a titty baby.

Posted via web from TalkingSmackAboutSports

South American Kidnappers and Major League Baseball

This is sad:

The mother of former major league pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped Sunday, Zambrano's agent Peter Greenberg said late Sunday night by phone. Elizabeth Mendez Zambrano was abducted sometime Sunday morning from her son's farm, about half hour from the central Venezuela city of Maracay, Greenberg said. Venezuela has been haunted in recent years by the kidnapping of rich and famous people. Yorvit Torrealba Jr., the son of Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, and his uncle were kidnapped this summer. They were left unharmed on a road a couple days later. Torrealba has since moved his family to Hollywood, Fla. Former Angels infielder Gus Polidor was killed in April, 1995 while trying to prevent the kidnapping of his infant son via a carjacking. Zambrano played seven years for Tampa Bay, the New York Mets, Toronto and Baltimore. His last game in the big leagues was Sept. 30, 2007.
The attraction is, of course, money, and big league players have certainly been flush with cash. While a player like Zambrano may not have played under a lucrative contract in recent years, there is a perception that anyone who has played in the big leagues has money, and in South America, that means the threat of kidnapping. Throughout Latin America, kidnapping is used to extort money from the rich, or from people perceived to be rich. Here's an older article about the situation, but I think it is indicative of how the crime has perpetrated itself throughout the world, not just Latin America:
Kidnapping is defined as "to hold or carry off, usually for ransom", and encompasses a wide variety of crimes. Economic kidnapping – or the kidnapping business – is where a financial demand is made, which could be either hard cash, or some other financial resource. Political kidnapping, on the other hand, is where political concessions, such as the release of prisoners, changes to the law and policy retreats, are demanded. This distinction may seem straightforward, but in reality cases are rarely this clear cut. There are often grey areas between political and economic kidnapping. For example, the FARC in Colombia is a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group, but kidnaps for money and is thought to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from it each year. Criminals with political aspirations have also been known to diversify. Definitions are often regarded as the preserve of hair-splitting academics, removed from the reality on the ground. But effective policies and practices for tackling kidnapping are not possible unless they respond to the motivations for the crime and take account of the way kidnappers will react to pressure. For this reason, it is vital that kidnapping cases are defined in terms of the immediate demand rather than any higher order political, religious or other goals a group may have. Economic kidnapping is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It is estimated that kidnappers globally take home in the region of $500 million each year in ransom payments: the hostage is a commodity with a price on his head. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 kidnappings each year worldwide. The undisputed kidnap capital of the world is Colombia, where the activity has been described as 'a cottage industry'. In 2000, the Colombian National Police recorded 3162 cases. Colombia's problem has not been contained within its own borders. Colombian kidnapping groups often cross over into Venezuela and Ecuador to take hostages, and both countries feature in the top ten. Other hot-spots around the globe include Mexico, where the problem has risen dramatically in the last five years, Brazil, the Philippines and the former Soviet Union. The following table shows the top ten hot-spots in 1999.
Global Kidnapping hot-spots – 1999 1 Colombia 2 Mexico 3 Brazil 4 Philippines 5 Venezuela 6 Ecuador 7 Former Soviet Union 8 Nigeria 9 India 10 South Africa
As the table above shows, Latin America is an important hub for kidnapping. However, it would be wrong to see the crime as a uniquely Latin American problem. Over the past decade or so, kidnapping has risen in parts of Africa, most notably Nigeria and South Africa. This can largely be traced to the expansion of multi-national companies into these countries following the rich natural resources on offer. Similarly, companies moved into parts of the Former Soviet Union following the collapse of communism at the start of the last decade, and the kidnapping rate has grown there, too.
How sad is it that, ten years later, this sort of thing is still prevalent, even in Venezuela? Let's hope that Zambrano is able to get his mother back safe and sound.

Posted via web from TalkingSmackAboutSports