Dear Santa: Or, What I Want for Baseball Christmas

Santa is checking John’s list, and checking it twice. (via Matti Mattila, Peter Bond, Keith Allison, Kwong Yee Cheng, Dirk Hansen and Michelle Jay)

Christmas is nearly upon us, baseball fans, and so in service to that gift-getting holiday, I hereby pose a seasonal question: What do you want for Baseball Christmas? By making clever use of the comments section, you are welcomed to articulate your yuletide wishes to me, or, more strategically, to dear old Santa Claus.

Just name it! I’ve been assured St. Nick is listening.

My wishes? My wishes, once answered, are key to the health of the Pastime.

For Baseball Christmas, I want…

…the Rays to get a new stadium.

I don’t live in Tampa-St. Pete. I’ve never even been to Tampa-St. Pete.

So, why do I care if Tampa-St. Pete gets a new stadium? I’m glad you asked.

I root for a team in the American League–specifically, the Texas Rangers–and every time I watch said team compete against the Rays of Tampa-St. Pete in the purported coliseum known to authorities as Tropicana Field, I get the sense I am watching a contest waged inside a large and misshapen missile silo, one that a career apparatchik working on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy will quietly recommend for prompt decommissioning.

Given the fact that no more than 127 spectators show up for each game–I’m guessing they won the tickets from a local radio station called KJAM, yes? It was either the tickets or a free car wash in Kissimmee–the place invariably sounds like a high school gymnasium in the second half of a junior varsity game whose score is 72-6. They’re just waiting for little Jimmy to make his first career free throw so they can get the heck out of Dodge. The minivan is out front with the engine running.

And how about those D-Rings? Or C-Rings? Or A-minus-B Rings? It’s like, “Hit a ball up here and win a stuffed elephant and also a major league home run!”

Seriously, who designed this place?–the International Carnies Union Local 406?

Come to think of it, maybe someone can hit a ground-rule double off the milk bottle and win an airbrushed T-shirt featuring Lady Gaga.

Santa, I’m begging you: Get these guys a new place to play, pronto.

…people to shed the belief that saying “launch angle” makes them sound smart.

Look, I get it. Statcast, like sliced bread and the Allen wrench, has made the world a better, more exciting place. As baseball fans, we are now privy to spin rates, pop times, max speeds and exit velocities. We know when Mike Trout executes a 99.8 percent route efficiency on a ball to the wall, he has obeyed the timeless maxim that the shortest path between two points is a nearly straight line through the outfield grass at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

We also know that when Shin-Soo Choo executes a 42.2 percent route efficiency on a ball hit directly at him, he has obeyed the relatively recent maxim that the longest path between identical points is Shin-Soo Choo’s.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge should bat cleanup in any intellectual lineup. But knowledge, with regard to Statcast and its arcane teachings, gets a bit annoying in the keep of baseball fans who wield “launch angle” as if it were the secret password to an international meeting of Mensa.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Sure, with Statcast, fans can see that, hey, whaddya know, home runs generally leave the bat at an angle between 25 and 35 degrees! And yet, without Statcast, the rest of us can watch a home run and see that, hey, whaddya know, the ball hit the bat at such an angle that it left the ballyard!

Does it really make us sound smart if we learn from Announcer A, who, it must be said, is also trying to sound brainier than thou, that the ball left the bat at a “launch angle” of 27 degrees?

I argue that it does not. I argue that it makes us sound as if we are trying to sound smart. I mean, um…cerebral.

Which is pretty stupid, when you think about it.

Santa, think about it. Then act on it.

…MLB to admit that my tinfoil hat is a justifiable and even necessary piece of headgear, i.e., to acknowledge that the balls are juiced.

C’mon, MLB. ’Fess up. It’s not all about launch angles, right? Nor is it about higher strike zones, harder-throwing pitchers and fatter contracts for home run hitters. You’re seriously telling me hitters are just swinging for the fences these days?

Hmm. If memory serves, my coaches always told me to STOP swinging for the fences, you moron. They told me, If you swing for the fences, you’ll never hit a home run. Also, you’re holding the bat upside down, you imbecile.

But now, suddenly, it’s a business decision? Now, swinging for the fences is simply the fastest route to untold wealth, basically a get-rich-quick scheme?

Had someone thought of that before, they could’ve mentioned it to Duane Kuiper.

So admit it, Commish: The balls are so juiced, they need sippy straws.

Oh, and when you see him, tell Santa I’m swinging for the fences on this one.

…TV people to stop posting player tweets on my TV screen.

C’mon, TV people. If I wanted to read the tweets of major league baseball players, I would–hmm, how can I phrase this?-join Twitter.

The fact is, however, that I, along with millions of other like-minded fans, am not only uninterested in the misspelled mutterings of preening narcissists but utterly averse to them. This should be a strong indication that I am generally–nay, specifically–opposed to reading on my TV screen a communique such as this: “Shout out to (fill in the name of injured player)!!!!! Get well soon man!!!!!!! Wait. Should I have placed a comma between the words ‘soon’ and ‘man’?”

I mean it, TV folks. I’m not the sharpest spoon in the underwear drawer, but even I can figure how to pledge allegiance to a so-called “social-media platform,” should I so choose. But, see? I do not choose. I am not a traveler of the Twitterverse.

So please stop presuming on my part a profound interest in fatuous messages whose 140-character* content serves only to improve the Q rating and polish the “brand” of guys who otherwise need a ghostwriter to fill out a grocery list–messages, mind you, that I have never asked for and whose authors are people I want only to see pitch or hit or catch but, no, not write.

It’s not that I’m envious of their built-in readership, exactly, though it certainly doesn’t help. As a journalist, I have to face facts. And the facts are these: A guy who can’t even spell the word “operation” and who wields the written word as a weapon, primarily against those he considers inferior, likely gets more eyeballs with a misbegotten 10-word tweet than I do with a carefully considered 4,000-word piece of baseball writing about baseball writing. It’s maddening, sure, but if you’re paying attention, so is practically everything.

Instead, it’s simply that if I wanted to read a tweet, I’d go straight to the source. But I want to watch a baseball game, and TV is the source for specifically that.

It is the source for people like me, Twitter-free, to watch the damn game.

TV people, please, when you see Santa at the mall this year, tell him what I’ve told you here today: That if I see just one tweet on my television screen during the 2018 season, I will personally besmirch the good name of Blitzen.

*What’s that you say? The character limit is now 280? Kill me.

…TV announcers to stop saying the hitting coach is “one of the best in the business.”

Have you noticed this, too? Sure you have. It’s everywhere, all the time, as if born of some ancient covenant whose forward-thinking signatories foresaw a day when nobody would otherwise know, or even give a hoot about, the names of hitting coaches employed by participating franchises in top-level baseball in the 21st century, A.D. Go ahead. Watch any game, on any day of the week, and you will hear a verbal exchange that might as well have come from a script.

Announcer A: “They have been hitting line drives all over the park tonight, Bob. In fact, as a team, they’ve batted .297 across the past nine contests.”

Announcer B: “Bill, you can attribute that to hitting coach Jack Jackson.”

Announcer A: “Bob, he’s one of the best in the business.”

Announcer B: “You’re absolutely right, Bill–one of the best in the business.”

Announcer A: “Yeah, I know, I just said that.”

Announcer B: “And you’re right, Bill. He is. He really, really is.”

Announcer A: “Mmm-hmm. One of the best in the business. And there’s strike three.”

The thing is, if everybody’s the best in the business, then why do hitting coaches so routinely get waylaid by other script-worthy sentiments such as “we’re looking to go in a different direction?” Why do franchises so often decide that the “approach” of Hitting Coach A is fundamentally inferior to that of Hitting Coach B, who, now that you ask, will bring “fresh ideas” such as hitting the ball really hard?

Just once–seriously, just once–I want to hear Announcer A say, “You know what? With regard to the business, he’s middle of the pack.”

Do it, Santa. Do it for me, and for everyone.

Yasiel Puig to continue to stick it to The Man.

Santa, I realize you’re an old white dude. (It’s the beard that gives you away.) So I apologize in advance for what I’m about to tell you. Also, if it makes you feel better, please note that I, too, am white and not getting any younger, as they say.

What I say is this: There are few things more satisfying than seeing COWDs–that’s Crusty Old White Dudes, my friend–getting all bent out of shape because a remarkably talented guy from the isle of Cuba refuses to conform to whatever defines their notion of playing the game the “right way.”

Santa, when you deliver Yasiel’s gifts this year, also give him my blessing.

…self-styled libertarians to quit preaching that bat flips are “fun”…(and self-styled custodians of baseball culture to quit preaching that bat flips are “the marks, nay, the causes, of civilization’s inevitable doom”).

I know what you’re saying, Santa. How can this guy endorse Yasiel Puig’s unorthodox behavior, which typically includes the most dramatic bat flips this side of the Chiropteran Circus, while simultaneously denouncing bat flips?

I’ll tell you how, old and white St. Nick.

In our current0–what’s the word everybody uses?–polarized cultural climate, bat flips have become the de facto litmus test that determines whether you A) are a fun-loving baseball fan who just loves fun and all the fun people who create fun in really fun ways, or B) a COWD.

Bat flips, it says here, have produced a false dichotomy that separates people into two distinct camps and erects a razor-ribboned wall between them. On one side are those who believe with righteous anger that bat flips are an affront to decency and a clear symptom of a look-at-me culture whose members value self-glorification above all other imperatives, and on the other are those who believe with noble delight that bat flips are a display of joyous self-expression and a jubilant rejection of the normative prohibitions and conventional expectations of an oppressive and conformist society.

Balderdash, Santa.

I’m not even straddling the razor-ribboned fence. Both are balderdash.

Bat flips are simply this: boring. They’re derivative. They’re expected.

Put it this way: Bat flips are the behavioral equal of “Oh no you di-n’t!”

Saint Nicholas, you know what to do. Afterward, you can flip your gift bag.

…MadBum to stop staring down opponents.

We get it, Madison Bumgarner. You’re the apex predator, top of the food chain, king of the jungle, the alpha male. You come from a long line of silverbacks genetically predisposed to kicking arse and taking names, and also making them up. Your mother’s nickname is BadMum, I’m guessing.

Make that BaaaaaadMum, queen of the jungle.

But why, given your apparently inborn dominance, must you deliver those outward demonstrations of butt-hurt, and always with the weirdly smoldering arrogance? Why must you stare at the Yasiel Puigs of the world as if you are dispatching psychokinetic daggers into their unworthy souls? Why must you curse at batters, going so far as to threaten them with physical harm, for the venal sin of trying to win? Why must you be so completely MadBum?

Look, Madison. May I call you Madison? Madison, please ask Santa to do us all a favor and somehow prevent you from being so maaaaaaad all the time.

This season, every season, we just wanna watch you pitch.

…Christopher Russo to pipe down.

I have a couple questions:

1) When did “being unbearable” become a prerequisite for landing a TV gig?

2) When did “forcing every rational viewer to either hit the mute button or change the channel” become a sure-fire moneymaker for a TV network?

Let me begin, or continue, by saying this is not a critical review of Russo’s work on that baseball network based near New York City, home of people who believe the rest of America is enchanted by New York accents. No, for this to qualify as a critical review, I would need to review, critically, Russo’s performance, yet I remain unable to fulfill the demands of such duty, hazard pay or not, due to the impenetrable wall of screech emanating from his face.

You can bash me for emphasizing his style, such as it is, over his substance, such as it might be, but that’s my point, dear reader: I have no idea what his substance is! I can’t access it. I can’t reach it before my ears are blown back like those of an old cocker spaniel who wanders into a wind-tunnel test for the U.S. Air Force. Whoosh!

What’s more, whenever I’m forced into the cruel and unusual punishment of his televised presence in the moments before I dive for the remote, I feel I’m in one of those 4D experiences at Disneyland. You know the ones–you sit there wearing 3D glasses when suddenly, from in front, water splashes in your face just as you enter the mermaid’s lair. Yep, I can practically feel the spittle jetting from his word hole whenever he’s up there shrieking madly about who-knows-what.

I have another question: Who watches that show? I am genuinely curious. What the heck is the demographic? Is it simply a collection of New Yorkers who, having spent the morning with a traveling delegation of lifelong Michiganders, have come home for the express purpose of hearing a native New Yorker say “New York” 172 times in a familiar tongue? Is is a group of inmates who, rather than serve six months in county lock-up, agreed to a plea bargain before learning of its demands?

Whatever the answer, I say this: They’re on their own.

Help me out here, Santa. Pack a roll of duct tape.

…announcers to stop using the words “scrappy” and “gamer.”

Fellas, do you not read the Internet?

“Scrappy” and “gamer” are ironic now.

Put it this way: You’re not playing the game the right way.

…TV announcers to stop saying “going forward,” as in, “The Dodgers expect Joe Blow to play shortstop for the rest of the season going forward.”

As opposed to what, the rest of the season going backward?

From just outside the doorway of the Department of Past History, I bring you this: The thermodynamic arrow of time, or, perhaps more accurately, the causal arrow of time, pretty much mandates that time flows in only one direction: namely, forward. It doesn’t move backward or even diagonally.

I know. I’ve tried. I woke up with a killer headache and the lingering taste of bad mezcal.

And so, even if the implication were necessary, which it isn’t, it is always implied that the sequence of events is oriented toward–let’s all say it together–the future. At present, nobody has even figured out a way to make Joe Blow play shortstop for the rest of the year going sideways. I mean, they sure didn’t figure out a way to make Derek Jeter play shortstop going sideways.


Anyhoo, Santa. Go ahead, make my Christmas.

…TV to eliminate on-field postgame interviews.

This one is a no-brainer in oh-so-many ways, not least in this way: How much brain power does it require, really, to gaze upon the player who just belted the game-winner and ask, “What was going through your mind in that at-bat?”

And how much gray matter does it take, honestly, for the player to choose among three standard replies from The Book Of Standard Replies?

1) “I was just looking for a pitch I could hit.”

2) “I got a pitch I could hit and, luckily, I put a good swing on it.”

3) “I was just looking for a pitch I could hit, and then, you know, I tried not to do too much with it. I tried to stay–yep, you guessed it, Bob–within myself.

Why do broadcasts persist with this daily charade? Why do TV’s overlords continue to believe that we, as viewers, are hungering for a question so predictable that it might as well be stenciled on the player’s forehead, just in case the “interviewer” forgets, and for an answer so foreseeable that it might as well be provided as part of the pregame notes?

Just once, I’d love to see a player reply, “What was going through my mind? I’ll tell you what was going through my mind: the unrivaled flavor of Arby’s!”

But Santa, if that’s not gonna happen, and you know it’s not, please abolish those horrid postgame interviews. Afterward, you can ask me what was going through my mind when you abolished those horrid postgame interviews.

…TV to eliminate in-game interviews.

Question: What’s more cringe-inducing than a post-game interview?

Answer: nothing.

Alternative answer: the in-game interview.

Few things in life are more excruciating than Announcer A, up in the booth, asking Manager B, down in the dugout, what he thinks of his pitcher’s performance tonight. (If you’re curious, it’s that he has looked pretty good. The ball is coming out of his hand really well, and he has shown good command of his breaking pitches. It’s just that he’s missed his location a couple of times and left some pitches up in the zone. But hey, you gotta give credit to those hitters. That’s a good team over there.)

Watching this misery unfold, the viewer is left with little but the awareness that nobody wants to be here–including, it must be said, the viewer. Announcer A is doing it because his producer made him do it. Manager B is doing it because MLB made him do it. And you are watching it because, unless you cast a vote via the democracy of your remote control, you have no choice in the matter. You are a hostage of the verbal calamity on your TV, as unenlightening a demonstration of say-nothing claptrap as any you’ve seen in your life.

Even worse than the in-game manager interview, however, is the in-game player interview. TV at least has the decency to conduct the manager interview between innings, mostly so that it won’t interfere with the intricate X’s and O’s of in-game baseball strategy, e.g., deciding whether to bunt the runner to second base while spitting or to bunt him over while scratching.

But those in-game player interviews…boy, howdy. What a dreadful idea.

First of all, nobody cares. Again, we’re here to watch a ballgame, not to see the split-screen equivalent of Miss America’s question-and-answer segment. We are learning nothing here, TV. I repeat: nothing! We already know that Team A, despite its sub-.500 record, is still in the playoff chase and that the team’s players, to borrow a phrase, aren’t just gonna roll over. No sir. There’s no quit in this team.

Of course, one reason there’s no quit is that the players are paid several million dollars. Why quit?

Making matters worse is that the predictable back-and-forth is taking place in real time, generally while the team of Player A–usually either yesterday’s starter or tomorrow’s starter–is out in the field. And so what you hear, eventually, is this: “Well, Bob, I’ll tell ya, there’s no quit in this…ooooooooooooh. Ouch. Wow. He caught that one pretty good, didn’t he. Good grief, that ball’s still going.”

Santa, I implore you. Make it go away. For me. For Christmas.

…TV folks to stop anointing so-and-so the Face Of Baseball.

And by so-and-so, I mean Aaron Judge.

Weird how the Face Of Baseball always wears a Yankees cap, yeah?

Santa, do me a solid: Make it stop.

…a moratorium on the words “Derek Jeter.”

Santa, I realize this particular wish is exceptionally hard to fulfill now that…ummmmm…The Captain has purchased the Miami Marlins with money he earned by being…ummmmmmmm…Mr. November for so many seasons.

Trust me when I say that when the sale was being discussed, I rooted for anyone–and I mean anyone–not named…ummmm…Jeets to purchase the franchise and thereby save my battered eardrums from the continued deification of the man named…ummmmmmm…No. 2. You know who I’m talking about, Santa.

But now that…uhhhhhhhhh…DJ is officially a public figure again–as if he ever wasn’t–I recognize TV’s talking heads will have an actual bona fide reason to happily utter…uhhhhhhhh…a name that rhymes with Jerek Deter, and that they will do so with a reverence typically directed at aging actresses who wear sequined gowns to industry galas while looking slightly younger than their actual age.

But here’s the thing, O Bearded One: I have had it up to here!–please note that I am holding my hand at the level of my forehead, and that now I am slowly raising it–with…yeaaaaaahhhhhh…the former Yankees shortstop.

Seriously, Kringle. Two decades’ worth of watching this guy stand on the most gilded pedestal known to man is about 20 years too much, or at least 20 years enough, thank you. I would like to spend the rest of my days, or at least all of my baseball season, liberated from all the usual excesses of televised name-dropping on behalf of a man whose career WAR is more than a dozen points below that of the understated, underrated Adrian Beltre, a name worth saying.

Thanks, Santa, in advance. Your cookies will be nice and warm.

Addendum: Like a responsible shopper who finishes his Christmas shopping long before Thanksgiving, I wrote this piece several weeks ago, i.e., prior to the nauseating trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins in exchange for Starlin Castro and two bags of peat moss. Now that the…uhhhhhhhh…architect of this grotesquerie is being properly vilified in the press, I’m far less disinclined to hear his actual name. That said, I’m far less hopeful of seeing Santa grant my final wish, one that pertains to the dreamed-of disappearance of the New York Yankees.

…the Marlins to keep that butt-ugly sculpture.

When I first glimpsed the so-called “home run sculpture” at Marlins Park, I wondered if I’d been subjected to some sort of vicarious flashback–if, perchance, I had stumbled into one of Dennis Hopper’s leftover acid trips, or if, per separate chance, the U.S. gubmint had gone all X-Files and begun conducting its latest mind-altering experiments on my particular personage.

Here I was, gazing at an absolute doozy of psychedelica, an absolute humdinger of hallucination, and it happened to stand just beyond the electric-green fence of a major league park, an illusion at the edge of the weirdly real.

But it’s real, all right. And it’s spectacular.

Of course, spectacular is not the aesthetic equivalent of beautiful. It isn’t even correspondent to mildly appealing. No, that thing is ghastly, a mash-up monstrosity of Miami iconography and retina-scorching color so grotesque, so disagreeably garish, that it seems destined for the cobwebbed shadows of a high-ceilinged antiques bazaar somewhere south of Tallahassee, just off Route 19.

And that, dear Santa, is why it’s gotta stay.

It’s poke-you-in-the-eye hideous. It’s spit-in-your-face profane.

It’s kick-you-in-the-shin contemptuous.

And it’s everything the Yankees are not.

Yep, it’s the anti-Yank, the opposite of corporate, the enemy of traditional, the aesthetic equivalent of a big, fat, bushy beard. And we need it all year long, Father Christmas. We need it in every season.

…the Yankees to disappear.

Sometimes you ask Santa for socks, and sometimes you ask for a pony. I’m asking for a pony. That said, I realize how super-crazy this wish must sound, even to Santa’s veteran ears. (Me, personally? I once asked for the Swedish Bikini Team. Actually, I twice asked for the Swedish Bikini Team.) But yeah, this one is pretty far-fetched, even by the standards of he who dreams of bikini teams.

First, and most conspicuously, people would probably notice the Yankees are missing–especially Yankees fans, and even New Yorkers in general. I mean, it’s not hard to spot an Aaron Judge-sized hole in local TV coverage.

Like, “Hey, Aaron Judge used to be there, right? Whatever happened to that guy?”

It’s also easy to spot a Judge-sized hole in national TV coverage, a fact that gets right at the gist of my wish: The Yankees, as you are surely aware, get more coast-to-coast airtime than even syndicated reruns of The Big Bang Theory. And Brett Gardner doesn’t even know what a Higgs boson is, I’m guessing.

Some time back, while researching my piece on MLB Network’s absurdly biased coverage, I came across a seven-day period in which Yankees games appeared on national TV seven times. Man, I don’t care who you are. That’s a lot of Yankee.

It has to end.

Make it happen, Santa.

The most logical way for my wish to come true, I suppose, is if the Yankees are wearing their road grays and get lost in a thick fog coming off Lake Erie. Hey, so what if the Indians would need to schedule the Washington Generals to fill the slot in the slated four-game series.

We’d at last be Yankee-free.

Which is like being dandruff-free but, according to science, better!

But look, it’s Christmas. I’m willing to compromise. I’m not the Grinch, you know. I hear The X-Files is making a comeback, so maybe Mulder can find the Yankees–still clinging to life and the now-forgotten NY logo–on a barnacle-covered barge just off the coast of Port Stanley, Ontario.

Just let it happen in Season 12, dear Santa.

Or Season 13.

Definitely Season 13. Or maybe 14. Or even 15.

Thanks, Santa. And remember: The fate of the Pastime is in your sleigh.

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dennis Bedard
6 years ago

Speaking of Yankee games, stop identifying celebrities in the stands. Who cares?

6 years ago

‘MLB to admit that my tinfoil hat is a justifiable and even necessary piece of headgear, i.e., to acknowledge that the balls are juiced.’

you are on to something – it’s so much worse than juiced balls
the truth is coming
learn about gematria and masonic rituals and you will be halfway there

‘sexual misconduct’ is coming to MLB unfortunately

Merry Christmas

6 years ago

100% agree on the ingame interviews – might be the biggest blot on the game right now. Don’t have the hatred for the Trop everyone else does, but that could just be me.

6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal


6 years ago

In general I agree on the postgame on-field interviews. They’re unwatchable. However, as a Nats fan, one of my favorite all time Nats memories is Jayson Werth hitting two walkoffs in two weeks and giving zero concerns about answering the postgame questions the right way.

6 years ago
Reply to  lilpudge

At least you can turn the TV off, change the channel, go to the DVR, hop on Hulu or Netflix, watch a movie, or play a video game after the baseball game is over. Unfortunately, the in-game interviews aren’t skippable if you aren’t willing to miss part of the game itself.

6 years ago

Simulations suggest that intellectual lineups are slightly more efficient with knowledge batting second.

Beep Boop
6 years ago
Reply to  timprov

I know we don’t like to talk about lineup protection around here, but knowledge is demonstratively more effective when hitting ahead of context and wisdom.

Psychic... Powerless...
6 years ago

Very entertaining and well-written article. However, I’d suggest that using the word “butt-hurt” is beneath you.

6 years ago

Beneath you is above me.

T. Slothrop
6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Woah: BH Surfers allusion! Say, what *does* “regret” mean?

6 years ago

John, I have to admit I was a little put off by the hit you put out on my team, but who am I to judge? After all, you’re one of the best in the business.

Also, Santa, can we get a WS ring or seven for Beltre? I don’t care how. Texas, trade, cut off one of Jeter’s fingers, whatever.

6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Juan Pierre, Willie Wilson, and Omar Moreno have rings.

Ken Griffey Jr., Kenny Lofton, and Andruw Jones don’t.

How’s that for soul-destroying?

6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

At least Beltran finally got a ring.

6 years ago

What I want for Christmas is for all internet writers to stop rolling out the “Old White Guy” trope to project their membership in their preferred socio-political tribes, particularly those writers on baseball sites that we visit to escape such tropes for five minutes.

Greg Goldenmember
6 years ago

I’d like Santa to bring some kind of baseball version of the Big 3 League… mostly just miss Vlad Guerrero

Greg Goldenmember
6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

I mean my three would be Vlad, Ankiel, and Maddux (my goodness – how much could that guy make a wiffle ball move?).

If it’s just beers, though? Wade Boggs and any of the 1993 Phillies.


6 years ago

Dear Santa, as you fly around taking care of all the stuff John asked for, esp. the anti-Yankees stuff (but maybe not Yasiel Puig, who is still a meathead, even as he sticks it to The Man), could you please please please bring some class/a bit of soul/a life to the more fanatical sabermetricians who have to denigrate anybody who doesn’t fully buy into all their algorithms, even those who actually do baseball for a living? These guys are smart, no question, but there’s something really obnoxious about stat-nerds sitting at their computer and calling John Smoltz “stupid”, or Ned Yost a “dummy” (or worse), or even Bill James (!)”senile” (to mention just some of what I’ve read this year on this and other sites) just because they don’t fully buy into all the advanced analytics of the moment. When I hear them, I can’t help but think of Sheldon Cooper–you know, the intensely irritating manchild on “Big Bang Theory” who’s a genius but socially obtuse, probably has some kind of diagnosis, and regularly belittles anyone who isn’t just like him or doesn’t think he’s a genius, even when he doesn’t seem to know how to feed himself. While you’re at it, please let them know some how that they don’t really do science, in the strict sense of the term–they analyze baseball statistics with a veneer of advanced mathematics. It’s not the same thing. You know I’ve been doing scholarship on two continents for 40 years and that I know what I’m talking about, but they don’t want to listen to me. Maybe you can get through somehow. I love baseball as much as anything and have been studying it my entire life; I learn so much from sabermetrics, but I don’t want to get insulted personally just because I would rather watch Ichiro hit 247 infield singles than Cody Bellinger strike out on the same damn pitch low and in even though he’s swinging at the right launch angle and would put the ball into the Pacific Ocean if he did manage to connect. Baseball is a big place and there’s more than enough room for all of us.

Famous Mortimer
6 years ago
Reply to  mando3b

I demand the right to continue to call John Smoltz stupid, because he is.

Mark Davidson
6 years ago


Either way, however, it was well written.

tramps like us
6 years ago

Launch angle, LOL…..yeah, I knew it was out of control when, this past summer, one of the guys on my 60-and-older wooden bat softball league very solemnly and seriously explained to me I’d never hit it over the fence unless I altered my launch angle.

6 years ago

As a rangers fan the only use of postgame interviews is to see Beltre fight off the Gatorade bath with a broom. And the terrible player who did good for a game interview. That’s about it.

The Stranger
6 years ago

In defense of post-game interviews, they occur after the game. Which means there is no more baseball to be watched, and nothing stopping me from changing the channel. In-game interviews don’t have that redeeming quality, and are therefore worse.

Even worse are the times that a guest is invited to join the broadcast team for a half-inning. Whether it’s a player’s wife to plug her charity, an ex-player to plug his book, or the team president to explain why he traded an elite prospect for a middle reliever, we can be certain that the actual baseball game will be an afterthought at best.

Morris Buttermaker
6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Anyone who hates in game interviews has clearly never seen the Padres broadcast from about 10 years ago when Matt Vasgersian and Mark Grant talked to a very inebriated Rick “Red Baron” Sutcliffe after he golfed a round with the Murry brothers.

6 years ago

Out of all 23 stadiums I have been to Fenway Park and Tropicana were the most uncomfortable to be at. Fenway because of the wooden seats causing day long back pains (also 90 BUCKS!?) and Tropicana because it is likely the cause for my nearsightedness.

And yes, I actually like Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum better than either of those stadiums.

6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Old enough to have seen a game at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Tropicana is a gem in comparison, hands down. Too bad the Expos had to travel 700 miles to another country to get a better stadium.

6 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

If you go to Fenway, sit in the bleachers.

I gave some thought to my list and realized I’ve been to more ballparks that don’t exist now than that do. And if they ever get around to getting rid of the Coliseum I’ll be down to two left, Fenway and Target Field. At least those two are in no danger of being replaced.

6 years ago

Your wish list is A+ and appreciate your adding a new Tampa Bay area ballpark to that list, but I have to push back against the idea that Tropicana Field is not a comfortable place to see a game. It will not win any design awards, and maybe indoor baseball will always lose a little something. But the sight lines are good, the seats comfortable, the staff friendly. The catwalks are rightly a source of derision but they affect balls in play I would guess two or three times a year — as opposed to, say, the “green monster” a stadium feature that completely alters the way a certain team plays the game but is adored for its authenticity and ties to some old timey sepia tinted “real baseball” ideal.

Willy Ruth
6 years ago
Reply to  Tropdefender

I just wish that the writers of the baseball world would come up with something a little more unique than bashing the Trop and poking fun at the Rays attendance… We get it… low hanging fruit. But if you don’t have an understanding of why the attendance is what it is, you have never even been to the stadium, and you are using the catwalks (that affect the actual game a handful of times a year) as your points of mockery… you wont be taken seriously by anyone who actually follows the Rays. Which probably does not even matter to you, but either way, you look more “douche” and less “informed”. I have been to over a dozen stadiums and can say the experience in the Trop is top notch. Far better than my game in Arlington sitting directly in the sun in 100 degree weather… what a joy.

6 years ago

What does Yasiel Puig have against Stan Musial?

Yeah, I get what you mean, but you really could’ve worded it better.

T. Slothrop
6 years ago

Say, if there’s room for next year’s list, could you ask Santa to please please please eliminate the nearly panicked distribution of new caps & T-shirts proclaiming Team X’s new status as the winners of the title that we’ve just now watched?

I have never understood this nonsense. Do the players not believe it’s real until they get a souvenir shirt? Do they think hordes of people are just waiting to order a very exciting and highly collectable NLDS Champions shirt ‘n cap combo? When did this idiocy start, anyway? Late ’90s, maybe?

And don’t get me started on plastic sheeting in the locker rooms and goggles. The carefully curated joy strikes me as utterly rote and paradoxically joyless, about as genuine as the answers to in-game interviews.