Tag Archives: MLB

Tell the whole story, Sen. Cotton

There you go. This well might be the most compelling rebuke of Republican opposition to the teaching an element of our national history that I have seen so far.

It comes to me from a good friend who share it on social media. The “Tom Cotton” referenced in the top passage is the GOP senator from Arkansas. Cotton has been opposing what he and other congressional Rs refer to as “critical race theory.”

Of course, Sen. Cotton is quite correct to salute the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball. He smashed through that barrier 75 years ago this season. “Today we honor him and his lasting legacy,” Cotton wrote via Twitter.

Yes! We do!

But hold on! What about the 50 years of MLB’s existence prior to Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947? Dare we also discuss in our public school classrooms the reasons why Robinson and other African Americans were denied the opportunity to play big league ball with white players? Do we ignore the inherent racism in MLB’s policy banning black players? Do we also ignore the epithets that fans hurled at him as he sought to play baseball in big league ballparks?

There’s a wonderful back story that needs a brief telling. One of Robinson’s closest friends on the Dodgers was a shortstop from Kentucky, Peewee Reese. When the Dodgers took the field in Cincinnati in 1947, the fans heckled Robinson mercilessly, calling him every vile name you can imagine. Reese walked over and stood next to his friend, threw his arm around his shoulders and stared down the crowd until the noise stopped. That act cemented their friendship.

Do well tell our children about that event? Of course we should!

Yet the likes of Tom Cotton would have us ignore that element in our great nation’s otherwise storied history.

No nation in the history of our planet has come of age without suffering through painful chapters. The United States of America has a few of ’em. Racism is a story that needs to be told to our children … and no, it won’t make them “hate America.”

So, if we’re going to salute and honor Jackie Robinson, we need to tell the whole story of what this great man was able to accomplish. Some of it is painful. Still, let’s tell it … and teach it to our children.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sign-stealing: part of the game

Don’t hate me for what I am about to say … but in my ever-so-humble view, stealing of signs in baseball is, shall we say, part of the game and is the most overrated story of Major League Baseball in the past 50 years.

MLB now is going to outfit players with electronic devices designed to prevent sign-stealing. Are you kidding me?

The Houston Astros got caught stealing signs after they won the 2017 World Series. You’da thought they were guilty of grand theft or some such actual crime. They were caught doing what teams have been doing since the invention of the Grand Old Game.

I make no apologies for the old-fashioned outlook I continue to have for baseball. I hate the designated hitter rule, indoor stadiums, fake grass, batters’ body armor, instant replay.

Now they want to eliminate the practice of stealing signs.

Does anyone out there realize that when a hitter steps into the batter’s box, peers down at the third base coach and receives all those hand signals that 99% percent of them are meaningless? They disguise the signs to prevent the other team from interpreting what they mean.

Sign-stealing has been called “cheating.” Good grief! Teams have been cheating, therefore, since the turn of the 20th century.

I know I will get some blowback for this brief blog post. I don’t mind. Someone will have to persuade me that this is an actual scandal. It isn’t. It’s part of the game.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

MLB needs to settle … now!

Major League Baseball, with its standing as America’s Pastime already in jeopardy, is about to possibly do irreparable damage to a game that many of us still love to watch.

I say that understanding that I have stated already that my love affair with the Grand Old Game isn’t what it used to be.

MLB has canceled opening day. The first series of games set for the end of March has been canceled. The players and the league owners are locked in negotiations. The team owners have locked the players out. The players are demanding more money — even though they say it’s “not about the money.” Spoiler alert: When they say it’s not about the money … it’s about the money!

Remember when a player strike canceled the 1994 World Series? I thought at the time that MLB had inflicted a moral wound on itself. I was wrong, which is no surprise, given that I am wrong far more often than I am right.

Still, I don’t feel good about the future of Major League Baseball if the two sides don’t reach an agreement quickly and get this preparation period for the upcoming season under way.

While we’re at it, we baseball fans need a long-term solution that lasts, say … forever!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

 

Ready for baseball

OK, let me be clear about something. My baseball-loving days are behind me. I don’t follow the Grand Old Game with nearly the fervor I did as a youngster.

However, I am kinda getting ready for teams to report for spring training. I say that as we’re still enduring a winter blast in North Texas and as I read about the chilled bones among my many friends in the Texas Panhandle.

My many friends who are devotees of the Amarillo Sod Poodles no doubt are waiting, too, for the first pitch of the season. I don’t blame ’em. Not one single bit.

The Sod Poodles were unable to defend their Double A league pennant last season, having been shelved for the 2020 season by the COVID-19 virus. No worries this year. I’ll cheer for them from afar. I hope to get back to Amarillo one day next season to see a game at Hodgetown. Or … I might yell for the Soddies when they venture to nearby Frisco to play the Roughriders.

But … that will occur in due course.

The Big League season will commence, too. I have one favorite player. Albert Pujols wants to play one more season. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer finished last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. No word if he’s returning or if he’ll shop himself around for a final fling with someone else.

Still, the football season is almost over; they’re going to play that big game soon in LA. I cannot say I am all that dialed into the pro basketball season, nor with the college hoops players.

Baseball is still out there, waiting to commence. Bring it!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

PETA wants to do what?

Are you … kidding me?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has weighed in with what I believe qualifies as the most preposterous request ever made … by anyone, ever, in the history of the world.

PETA wants Major League Baseball to rename the “bullpen “– the place where relief pitchers warm up before entering a game — to “arm barn.” PETA wants to be “sensitive” to, um, bulls.

USA Today reported: “Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in the release. “PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”

PETA calls for the MLB to change term ‘bullpen’ to the ‘arm barn’ to be sensitive to cows (msn.com)

What in the name of social activist idiocy is going on here?

It’s not like MLB pens up actual livestock in these places, for ever-lovin’ sake. Yet here we have PETA seeking to replace a commonly used place with something that is more animal friendly!

I saw the story and thought momentarily that it must be a satire published by The Onion. It isn’t. It’s for real.

It’s also just plain idiotic.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Cleveland … Guardians?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK. I am fine with the Washington Football Team of the National Football League jettisoning the name it used to call itself: the Redskins.

But, something inside my old man’s body tells me the Cleveland Indians’ decision to change its name to Guardians is a step too far into the realm of political correctness.

The Washington Football Team’s former name clearly had been interpreted as a slur against Native Americans. Old-time western cowboys would use the term as an epithet against Indians.

However, to change the name of one of Major League Baseball’s more storied franchises to the Guardians? I don’t get where this is going or where it might go.

As a friend of mine noted earlier today on social media, a Native American suited up for the Cleveland team many decades, becoming the first indigenous American to play big-league baseball. Thus, it is believed the Indians named the team in his honor.

Maybe I shouldn’t tread onto this ground, given that I am the grandson of immigrants from southern Europe. I don’t understand how a Native American might feel about an MLB team named the Indians. It’s just that to my eyes and ears the team nickname has a decidedly neutral sound to it, unlike the former name of the NFL team that plays tackle football in Washington, D.C.

How many more teams are going to succumb to the pressure that continues to mount?

Sigh …

Pujols finds a new team … yes!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Albert Pujols will take his place in due course in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

But first the former three-time National League Most Valuable Player, two-time World Series champ (with the St. Louis Cardinals) and arguably the best right-handed hitter in the past 60 years will get to play one season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The LA Angels gave Pujols the boot in the final year of the huge contract he signed prior to the 2012 season. The all-timer didn’t perform up to the standards he set while playing for the Cardinals.

Free agent Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodgers agree to major-league contract (msn.com)

He is now 41 years of age. He doesn’t have much time.

The only downer I see in this signing is that Pujols won’t get to play the Cardinals in St. Louis this year, as he did in 2019 when the Angels visited Busch Stadium for a three-game set against the Cards. The reception the St. Louis fans gave Pujols was remarkable in the extreme.

I’ve shared this video already, but it’s worth seeing again.

Enjoy …

Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols a standing ovation in his return to Busch Stadium – YouTube

Future Hall of Famer gets the axe

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I don’t follow big-league baseball the way I once did.

My interest lies in too few players these days. One of them, my current favorite MLB player, has been cut from a team he joined a decade ago in one of the biggest deals in baseball history.

I am saddened to see Albert Pujols get the boot from the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols is, as the saying goes, a serious “gamer.” He comes to play hardball the right way every time he suits up. He also is 41 years of age and his best years are long gone. The Angels believe it would be in the team’s best interest and in Pujols’ best interest to let him find a spot with another team that will enable him to play if not every day, then on most days.

That wasn’t meant to be for the Angels.

Why am I sad? Because a guy with Pujols’ stellar character and all that he has done to promote baseball positive image deserves better than what he got from the LA Angels. Spare me the lecture about how pro sports is big business. I get all that.

Still, an athlete who for the first half of his career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals put up utterly staggering offensive numbers — hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average — to my mind had earned a more graceful and dignified exit than what he got from the Angels.

It’s unlikely Albert Pujols will put up the kind of offensive numbers he did when he was much younger were he to end up in another lineup. I just wish he could have left the Angels on his own terms.

***

One of the more thrilling scenes I’ve ever watched occurred when the Angels played the Cardinals in 2019. It marked Pujols’ return to St. Louis since he left the team. The reception he got from what he has called “the best fans in baseball” is stunning. Here is the link.

Cardinals fans give Albert Pujols a standing ovation in his return to Busch Stadium – YouTube

Are we ready for a packed house?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gulp!

That is the sound of me swallowing hard in anticipation of what I hope doesn’t happen … if that makes sense.

They’re going to play some hardball tonight down the road a piece from us in Collin County. The Texas Rangers are staging their American League home opener at their brand new ballpark in Arlington, which they built right next to the park where they played for about 20 years.

Why am I gulping? Because the Rangers are going to play before a full house. Fans will be packed in there, about 40,000-plus of them. Sitting shoulder to shoulder. Yelling for their guys to win a game. They’ll be high-fiving each other, slapping each on the back, yelling their brains out!

Oh, did I mention that we’re still in the grip of a killer pandemic? I just did. Which makes me very nervous.

The Texas Rangers are the only Major League Baseball organization to open their venue up to everyone who can squeeze into it. The other teams are limiting ticket sales. Same thing for minor-league organizations — such as the Amarillo Sod Poodles up yonder in the Panhandle; Hodgetown will be three-quarters full when the Soddies open their home season soon.

To be clear, the Rangers are going to require fans to wear masks. I presume they’ll have hand sanitizer available.

However, social distancing is not at all possible when you jam fans together in a venue where they’re sitting right next to each other. We’ve had these spikes in infection rates and hospitalization, in case you hadn’t heard. They have occurred just as states and local governments lift restrictions created by the outbreak of the COVID virus which has killed more than 550,000 Americans — and that number is still climbing, albeit at a slower rate.

My goodness, I hope this isn’t a mistake.

A true legend passes on

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

One should try to refrain from overusing the term “legend” when referring to famed athletes.

I will use the term today to mourn the death of a true legend of baseball: Henry Aaron, who died peacefully in his sleep overnight.

My goodness, what does one say about the man I consider to be Major League Baseball’s true home run king?

Hammerin’ Hank exhibited profound courage as he faced down blatant and hateful racism while he chased Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. He surpassed The Bambino in April 1974 when he blasted No. 715 out of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. He kept all the hate mail he received just to remind him of the torment he endured.

Aaron went on to hit 755 home runs over a career in which he played for two franchises: the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and then the Milwaukee Brewers. The Hammer became a civil rights activist and spokesman in his post-baseball life. He lived like a champion off the field as well as one who competed like one on the field.

Now, to be clear, Aaron officially is No. 2 on the career home list. He surrendered the title of all-time HR king to Barry Bonds, who finished with 762 home runs. Bonds, though, cheated his way to achieving the record by ingesting performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds never has acknowledged juicing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s … but he did.

Thus, I never can consider Bonds to be at the top of one of baseball’s greatest achievements.

The title of Home Run King will in my mind and heart belong to Henry Louis Aaron, a legend not just in his time … but for all time.