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Scenes from Spring Training: We hate your favorite team

Mar 8, 2012, 7:54 AM EDT


I ate that thing pictured to the right last night. It’s a chilaquiles verde, and yeah it has a fried egg on top. Between that and the In-N-Out the other night I realize I’m going to die soon, but it’s worth it. I’ve lived a good life.

Dinner last night was with Keith Law of ESPN and Jonah Keri of Grantland. You can probably guess the reason for our dinner meeting: to plan this year’s strategy of hating your team and cultivating our overall biases in such a way as to be unfair in anything we write.  It’s a pretty good system, actually: Keith handles the prospects and postseason awards voting bias, Jonah handles the long form, in-depth team-specific bias and I handle the day-to-day bias.  Summit meetings are great.

But I did have some actually serious thoughts about bias yesterday. It came after I interviewed Orlando Hudson. He, like Torii Hunter the day before, was so nice and so accommodating, making what for me is kind of a nerve-inducing task — interviewing someone — much, much easier. When I left their presence each time I thought “man, what a great guy.”

But then I thought “now that I’ve had a nice personal interaction with them, if one of those guys did something bone-headed or worthy of criticism, I wonder if I’d go after him the way I go after someone else.”

This thought matched up with what I’ve heard and observed while in the presence of beat writers over the years. Most of them — even the best of them whose writing never seems to be infected with any kind of bias at all — talk openly about who is nice, who is surly, who makes time for interviews, who gives you good quotes, who tries to be a wise ass and all manner of thing that affects only how easy it is for the reporter to do his job.  How can those considerations not color the coverage? It has to, right? Even a little, even on an unconscious level?

All of which makes me question — as I think I do every year around this time — the nature of baseball writing and the desirability of access.  I like going into the clubhouse and sitting in the press box some because (a) it’s cool; and (b) I feel like I should at least have some presence and accountability given how often I rip people.

But I don’t think I’d be able to do the sort of writing I do while working as close to ballplayers as the beat guys do. And if I were running a newspaper’s sports section, I’d think hard about how deep into the clubhouse I’d want my columnists and opinion writers to be, lest they pull punches in the same way I, even after five minutes around them, worry that I might pull my punches regarding Torii Hunter or Orlando Hudson.

Anyway: off to Goodyear today to visit the Cleveland Indians and to take in the Angels-Indians game.

  1. navel gazing - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    +1 for Craig being self aware enough to realize this, and also for being professional enough to consider it in his approach to his writing.
    Now get out there and hate on our teams. Oh, and keep the heart attack food pix coming. Vicarious living is all some of us have.

    • Old Gator - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      Unless that egg was fried in bacon grease and heavily salted, that’s not really heart attack food. Assuming Arizona is still fixated on corn (as opposed to nutritionally useless white flour) tortillas, classic chilaquiles is loaded with metabolism-accelerating green chilli salsa with flavonid and polysulfide-rich garlic, especially allicin, which combat cholesterol, and healthy shredded chicken (problematic only if raised on steroid-laced feed and Craig runs afoul of the the MSNBC random drug testing policy – ie, typos galore and slurred speech). The garlic and chilli offset the minimal cholesterol in the egg yolk, which contributes protein to Craig’s ongoing physiological development project. Craig has no reason to feel guilty. It’s not like he went out and gulped down a horrible horsemeat and Velveeta™ sandwich in Clearwater again.

      Now if Craig really wants to prove his manhood, chilaquilies rojo is up next.

      • racksie - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

        Dang. Old Gator know his nutrition. I’ll eat anything with an egg on it. And I love garlic. I just nee to lay off those frozen pizzas.

      • jwbiii - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:19 AM

        typos galore and slurred speech

        Spending more time with The Most Interesting Man in the World would probably have the same effect.

        Chilaquiles are great. I prefer migas, the Texas version, but that’s just a matter of taste, kind of like scotch and bourbon.

      • Old Gator - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM

        Ah, the Cafe on the Square in San Marcos serves up terrific migas with some kickass chorizo. Trouble is that most commercially available chorizo is loaded with really nasty, marginally carcinogenic and arterially corrosive preservatives and tons of sodium to complement the great gouts of cholesterol in the organ meats. That’s where the cheekin in chilaquiles intercedes on behalf of yer innerds. Ergo, I breakfast only occasionally on migas if I can’t find organic sausage. Too bad something so tasty is usually so toxic. Incidentally, do you fall into the fried-crispy-tortilla-strip or the sauteed-tortilla-strip party of migas and chilaquiles eaters?

      • natstowngreg - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        I hate it when someone gives you a detailed dissertation on what you’re eating. Takes the enjoyment out of the eating experience.

      • jwbiii - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:14 PM

        Old Gator, Sorry to be answering so late. Life intrudes sometimes. My migas experience is from Austin at the Magnolia Cafe on South Congress, corn and sauteed, and Jim’s Restaurant, a diner a block from my apartment at Research and Burnett, also corn and sauteed. Both served with flour tortillas. The Magnolia’s was vegetarian and much better. I’ll guess fresher veggies, better cheese, and beans and eggs not sitting under heat lamps for as long. Jim’s were with mildly toxic tasting chorizos.

        My chilaquiles experience was with a former colleague who married a charming young lady from Cuernavaca and a hotel restaurant in Zihuatanejo (my wife and I visited there long before Shawshank came out). Maria used it as a clean out the refrigerator exercise and he took a huge amount for lunch once a week or so, so the meats and sauces were varied and yummy and the tortilla strips were seared. The restaurant in Zihuatanejo deep fried theirs crispy and it came with questionable chorizo. Maria’s were better.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    Last year this time, wasn’t it Frenchy whose spell you fell under?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      Yup. Although in his case I was probably so far over the edge in hating on him — even if it was mostly comically — that meeting him made for a nice corrective.

      • cltjump - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        Any Braves fan would wholeheartedly support you in continued Frenchy-bashing.

  3. cktai - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Is that picture just to taunt poor Aaron Gleeman?

  4. phukyouk - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    I for one, am looking forward to the Craig/Braun hugfest at some point

    • Old Gator - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      Hey Cur: is it possible to sweat-smear excessive levels of waste testosterone on someone’s t-shirt during a hug?

      • phukyouk - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM


      • Old Gator - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:36 AM

        Thanks. I’m just trying to protect our Craig.

      • cur68 - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Yup. But why stoop to urine (which would be the easiest way to get metabolites on someone)? Testosterone cream. A good hearty hand shake should do it. One of those 2 handed jobs. Spray clear shellack on your own paws, to keep from absorbing it yourself, of course.

        cur-dog: super spy, agent of intrigue, & allround know it all…don’t cross me or you’ll be whizzing a 50 game suspension.

  5. paperlions - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Okay Craig, I have an assignment for you. Can you interview Michael Young 1) to determine what it is about him that engenders such admiration for his baseball playing abilities when evidence suggests he’s a bit above average offensively (taking park effects into account) and a defensive disaster and 2) to see if your coverage of him changes this year compared to previous years.

    Could be educational on multiple fronts.

  6. proudlycanadian - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Did I ever tell you Craig that I hate both your team and Larry. Fortunately, I have memories of a glorious WS victory that “politically incorrectly” named team. Cheers and happy heart burn. We can tell that you are having fun.

  7. Walk - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Any of you watch big bang theory? If you do you might remember the show where sheldon tells his friend that the chef salad is kitchen trickey to use left over scrap meat. That dish is prepeared mostly at breakfast or lunch to use left over tortillas. Oh the humanity of it. BTW i like the egg scrambled on mine.

  8. racksie - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    We have columnist in Minnesota who always talks about how much he misses Torii. I have issues with Torii, but have never heard a bad word about the guy as a person. It’s just that run scoring single he misplayed into an inside the park homer in the playoffs. TWICE. And the criticism of that play was almost non-existent in the local media. And firmly believe it was because of their feelings for the man, as opposed to the ballplayer.
    Good stuff, as always, Craig. And don’t taunt Gleeman like that. Because that’s hating the man, not his team.

    • kopy - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      I have friends who make a point to boo Torii Hunter when he comes back to Minnesota and cheer AJ Pierzynski because everyone does the opposite, even though the former left for more money and the latter was traded away without his request.

      • racksie - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        I am morally opposed to booing in almost all situations. Torii took some shots on his way out the door, but I think the team just tired of his act at the trade deadline every year. And everyone hates AJ. Even his team mates, I bet. They just wont admit it.

  9. stevejeltzjehricurl - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Craig, you’re writing about baseball for a living. If this is your biggest problem (other than a comment section full of smart alecks), I think you’re probably pretty happy… and happy people tend to do good work, so we smart alecks are pretty happy, too. All in all, you’re living the good life. It may be a slightly shorter life based on your current diet, but a happy one nonetheless.

  10. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    But then I thought “now that I’ve had a nice personal interaction with them, if one of those guys did something bone-headed or worthy of criticism, I wonder if I’d go after him the way I go after someone else.”

    Because [and some might not agree] you are smart enough to know the distinction between describing a play and describing the player. For instance, take the story a few years back when Arod yelled mine rounding third so the Blue Jays 3b thought he was being called off and let the ball drop so Arod was safe.

    That action could be considered childish/assholish by some people. However, lots of sportswriters like to take those opportunities to ascribe some sort of character trait on the individual themselves. That Arod is childish/assholish. We don’t care what your biased opinions of the players are, it’s not what you are paid to do. They are paid to report what happened in the game.

    • Gamera the Brave - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      I’m no A-Rod fan, but I never really understood bashing the “mine!” play – internal trash-talking, heckling, gamesmanship all make that what A-Rod did perfectly reasonable in context of the game. This kind of stuff happens all over sports – players just trying to rattle and unbalance their opponents. That exact play has probably happened thousands of times in baseball, and I happen to think what he did was actually pretty damned funny.
      (cue the A-Rod hatred)

      • cur68 - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:49 AM

        Yeah, yeah. Wasn’t YOUR team he did that to, now was it? Frankly, though, it was the smirk while standing on 3rd that really bugged me. Acting all proud of yourself at that moment is gonna get you some criticism.

      • Gamera the Brave - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:28 PM

        Wasn’t my team, forgot about the smirk. But if I had successfully gotten a Major League player to drop a ball by making a noise, I can’t honestly say I would not have acted pretty pleased with myself. And yes, I’m aware that it makes me a shallow person…

      • cur68 - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        Well, yeah, I suppose I’d be grinning a bit too…but if ARod’s doing it its going to worse. That’s centaur-grinning, that is.

      • yankeesfanlen - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        Not around here/ This is Leave ARod Alone territory.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        That exact play has probably happened thousands of times in baseball, and I happen to think what he did was actually pretty damned funny.

        Can’t find it anywhere, but i’m 99.9% sure Joe Morgan said that kind of stuff happened all the time back in his day.

        It’s more who’s doing the deed than the deed itself. If Jeter did it people would laud him for a headsup play, but Arod = bad.

  11. vikesfansteve - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    You got the bias part right. Like your argument about Jack Morris. Not being good in the post season even though he won the Babe Ruth award twice for most outstanding post season.

    • nategearhart - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      My personal opinion about Jack Morris aside, why does Craig’s thoughts make him biased? If you disagree with him, can’t he just be wrong?

      • cur68 - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:09 PM

        What, and pass up a perfectly good opportunity to rant at Craig? Nate, clearly you’ve never read the stylish musings of ‘vikesfansteve’ before. Frankly I don’t believe his name is “Steve”. I think this is Jack Morris’s mom.

      • wlschneider09 - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        Ah, but Jack Morris’ mom was named Steve, and had a slightly less prominent mustache.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      Not being good in the post season even though he won the Babe Ruth award twice for most outstanding post season.

      Doubt Craig ever said he wasn’t good in the postseason. More likely Craig said that Morris’s postseason acumen was highly overrated. Morris had a great ’84 postseason (1.80 ERA over 25IP with a 17/4 K/BB ratio) and a great ’91 WS which we all know about. That’s 48 of his 92.1IP over his post season career (5-0, 1.50 ERA over 48IP, 32K/13BB).

      Unfortunately that leaves another 44.1IP. In those 44.1IP, he went 2-4 with a 6.29 ERA over 44.1IP, with a 32K/19BB ratio giving up almost as many runs as strikeouts.

      All told Morris threw 92.1 in the postseason with a 3.80 ERA, 8.1 H/9, 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. This almost exactly matches his regular season marks of 3.90 ERA, 8.4 H/9, 5.8 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 of which he pitched only 5% better than league average (ERA+).

  12. rickeye9 - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    how the hell can you hate on in and out burger??????? I don’t care about sports when you just throw that in there and cover it up with nonsense, i don’t eat fast food except for in and out!!!!!

    • El Bravo - Mar 8, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Craig loves the In N Out, he just is watching his girlish figure. You did see that he had that two nights ago for din din right? He is the opposite of hating on In N Out.

  13. APBA Guy - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Craig-how’s Keith doing since his procedure last week?

    And also, I can’t think of a better table for dinner conversation about baseball, given that you three are my “go to” in the morning.

  14. marinersnate - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Dinner with Keith Law and Jonah Keri? Did you keep track of any super-saber food related statistics? For instance, what was Keith’s w/BURP? Or Jonah’s fart/9? What was the group eafip (eating average on food in play)? What is Keith’s career complete meal ave. vs. mexican food? What about Jonah’s fWAR (Whoppers Against Replacement- with restaurant factor)? Did you use CHONES to attempt to predict the outcome of tonight’s dinner? These vital statistics would have given us a much better understanding of your complete dinning experience.

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