November 24, 2017

Bryant: "How Have We Not Progressed Past These Mascots?"

How Have We Not Progressed Past These Mascots?
Howard Bryant, ESPN The Magazine, November 23, 2017
[It is] appropriate to wonder why Native Americans are spared the dignity of progress, why the sports industry continues to insult them today as society commonly did 100 years ago. To many fans, perhaps nothing feels more American than logos like those of the Indians, Blackhawks and Redskins, but that feeling requires ignoring the history. Native Americans were excluded from being American -- from the 14th Amendment of 1868, which granted equal protection and naturalization of all citizens born on United States soil, to the 15th, which granted African-American men the right to vote, in 1870. Native Americans were not granted American citizenship until 1924 and did not receive full nationwide voting rights until 1957. By that time, each of the team names, as racist then as they are today, was well fixed within the sports culture. America has chosen logos over people. ...

"You cannot have capitalism without racism," Malcolm X once said. His statement was directed toward the class warfare that lies at the root of capitalism, and it applies even to the blankets, foam fingers, jerseys, caps and T-shirts the sports teams sell, even on a day ostensibly dedicated to a giving of thanks and peace between settlers and natives. The hypocrisy is disgusting. ...

It might be difficult for sports leagues to appear to capitulate to the protest behind a word's usage, even if that capitulation is out of simple decency. It might be difficult for teams and the public to admit their casual racism. It is not, however, complicated to understand that these logos must go. It is not complicated to know a relic from the first decades of the 20th century, routinely regarded by historians as the most racist period since the antebellum era, is inappropriate today. ...

Enough. We all know better.
In the first paragraph of his article, Bryant notes that during the 2016 World Series MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he and Cleveland owner Paul Dolan would have "a conversation" about the Chief Wahoo logo in the offseason. ... Did the two men eventually speak? I can't remember. It doesn't really matter, though, because absolutely nothing was done.

The Wahoo Issue came up again during the 2017 World Series. And Manfred said (again) that the "problematic" logo was totally on his winter to-do list: "[I]t's an issue I intend to deal with in the offseason." ... Manfred had better hurry. Cleveland is hosting the 2019 All-Star Game.

November 17, 2017

AL MVP: Betts and Sale Finish in Top 10

Jose Altuve is the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player. He received 27 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Mookie Betts finished sixth. He was listed as #4 on two ballots: Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times and Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.

Chris Sale finished ninth. His highest placement was #5, by Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). (The Globe's Nick Cafardo listed Corey Kluber #3 on his MVP ballot, the only writer to list the Cleveland higher than #5.)

Sale finished second to Kluber in the AL Cy Young voting. Kluber received 28 first-place votes, with Sale receiving the other two (Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald and Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com). Sale was named #2 on the other 28 ballots. Craig Kimbrel finished sixth, by being named #3 on six ballots.

Andrew Benintendi received 23 second-place votes and 6 third-place votes for AL Rookie of the Year. One writer did not feel Benintendi was one of the top three rookies in the AL. That writer was old friend La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

And when I say "old friend" I mean "asshole", because it was Neal - along with George A. King III of the New York Post - who screwed over Pedro Martinez for the AL MVP award in 1999. Neither writer had Pedro's name on his ballot at all. (And it's so perfect that both of these fatuous clowns now use their middle initials and "III" in their by-lines.)

When King was asked about his ballot, he said he did not believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP (which is in violation of the BBWAA's rules and should have led to the revocation of his voting rights). Then it was revealed that King had included pitchers David Wells and Rick Helling on his ballot the year before. His snubbing of Pedro was obviously deliberate.

The 2017 breakdowns (individual ballots can be seen at the BBWAA link above):








November 14, 2017

The Worst Ball And Strike Calls Of The Season

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs shares the worst ball and strike calls of the 2017 season:

The Worst Called Strike of the Season
The worst called strike of this season was thrown in the eighth inning of a game between the Astros and the Tigers on the second-to-last day of July. I measure these things by the distance between the location of the pitch and the nearest part of the rule-book strike zone, and, here, we have a called strike on a pitch that missed the zone by 9.8 inches.
Umpire: Ramon De Jesus

The Worst Called Ball of the Season
The worst called ball of the whole season was thrown on August 20.
Umpire: Dan Bellino

November 13, 2017

Mookie Bowls First 300 Game in PBA Event

Mookie Betts bowled what he believes is his 10th career 300 game on Sunday night, but it was his first perfect game in a Professional Bowlers Association event. Betts was competing in the final qualifying round of the World Series of Bowling in Reno, Nevada.


Photo from here.



November 10, 2017

Red Sox Obviously Doomed As Long As Judge Wears Pinstripes


Jesus. It's been only a few short years since the retirement of The Most Awesome Derek Jeter, but the sports media apparently cannot exist unless it has a Yankees player to constantly hold up as a shining example of how amazing and humble and wonderful and gifted and humble a single human being can be.

I can only hope Aaron Judge - who is quite a bit taller than the average player, did you know that? - falls flat on his ugly mug and flames out in a historic blaze of strikeouts or maybe somehow ends up playing for another team somewhere no one cares about (Milwaukee?), because, otherwise, it's gonna be a seriously long fucking slog for the many years he will play for our main rival.

ESPN frames the Red Sox's entire winter as a struggle to do what they can to counter The Judge Effect. (Because we know from history that Judge will only get better and better. He cannot possibly regress.) From two ESPN reports (Scott Lauber on the Red Sox and Andrew Marchand on the Yankees):
Boston Red Sox: Will they turn the power back on?

Home runs are en vogue again, but the Red Sox missed the memo. In the first year of their post-David Ortiz era, they hit only 168 homers, fewest in the American League. Of the 74 players who hit at least 25 homers, none were part of the Red Sox's lineup. Deposed manager John Farrell used seven different players in the cleanup spot, a testament to the fact that the team lacked a true middle-of-the-order power threat. As a result, the Sox scored 785 runs, a drop-off of 103 runs from 2016.

It's little wonder, then, that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already made several public declarations that he'll be shopping for offense this winter. Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez are the top names on the free-agent market, and they would fit into the Red Sox's lineup as either a first baseman or designated hitter, respectively. And then there's the really big fish: Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is potentially available via a trade now that Derek Jeter is running things in South Florida. As the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry heats up once again, it would be hard for Boston to find a more suitable counter to Aaron Judge.
Hey, look! We even got a Jeter reference in there!
New York Yankees: Will it really be a quiet offseason?

This winter is one that might be looked upon as a quiet one for the Yankees, except for the fact they will add a new manager, could add the "Babe Ruth of Japan" and may make a trade or two. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is looking for an "A.J. Hinch-type" to connect with the team's young players better than Joe Girardi could. Shohei Otani, the 23-year-old pitcher/outfielder, wants to come to the United States. As it stands now, if he does, he will not receive a huge contract because of the new collective bargaining agreement rules. That means the Yankees could have as good a chance as anyone to land him. Otani could be a sixth starter for the Yankees, while DHing and playing some outfield.

The Yankees will look to re-sign CC Sabathia, but for far less than the $25 million that the big lefty made in 2017. They will talk with Todd Frazier's representatives, but with Chase Headley already signed for 2018 it is unclear how much they will offer Frazier to play third. The Yankees could look to trade Headley, Starlin Castro and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Yes, there are likely many teams lining up for the privilege of grabbing Ellsbury, who has posted OPS+s of 87, 88, and 97 over the last three seasons and is due to be paid $63.3 million through 2020. Check out his total bases over the last two seasons as compared to 2011, the season that made the Yankees so excited to sign him as a free agent.
              GMS     PA    TB
2011          158    732   364
2016-17       260   1035   349
Sign me up!

November 9, 2017

You've Heard "Kars4Kids" Mentioned During Red Sox Games. What Is It?

If you listen to radio broadcasts of Red Sox games, you have likely heard about Kars4Kids. Listeners are encouraged to make a cash donation or donate their used car to help "kids in need".

Have you ever wondered who are these kids - and how are used cars helping them?

My partner Laura Kaminker did. What she discovered is here.