Hardball Talk, Like Tears in Rain

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.”

…Roy Batty

I posted yesterday about the Argentine junta style disappearance of the entire Circling the Bases writing staff with the exception of Craig Calcaterra and Bill Baer. I wasn’t sure then exactly what had happened but now it’s nauseatingly apparent that it was, at least in large part, an economy move by the stuffed shirts at NBC. We don’t know the details. Aware that the survivors need to keep their jobs and the victims will mostly keep their cravings for schadenfreude to themselves to maximize the chances of replacing their lost income, we probably never will. Remember, though, that this is the same wretched organization that in violation of laws protecting the employment of military reservists who have to miss work for service fired Air Force reserve captain Nicole Mitchell, who also happened to be a seasoned meteorologist and hurricane hunter,  from The Weather Channel. Nothing they do would surprise me much, not even hiring Scrooge McLoria to run their sports division.

I have been asked – not infrequently, either – why I still bother to post on the site formerly known as Circling the Bases. I always answer “out of loyalty to my friend Craig.” It’s a loyalty I still feel, but as the situation at my once favorite sports blog continues to deteriorate I’ve pretty much run out of justifications for wasting my time there. A quick recap of what brought us to this pass is probably unnecessary, since most Fan Interference habitues already know the story.

Nonetheless, I respect the exigencies of historicizing, so here we go. First, a few years ago the  suits at NBC decided it wasn’t in the interests of conformity – that hobgoblin of puckerdom –  for their sports blogs to have unique personalities and shoved “Hardball Talk” down Craig’s throat as the new name of the blog he initiated. Craig posted a reasoned apologia  for it but if you read between the lines, he was admitting that this imposition of such a lifeless title was out of his hands. Then, last weenter, NBC’s marketing department force-fed us one of the ugliest, most cumbersome, least user friendly site redesigns in the matrix. Antepenultimately, over the last few months the rest of Craig’s staff, except the charmed Bill Baer, were terminated.

Finally, today, the capstone of NBC’s dehumanization of the blog was put into play: the weekend dead zones left by the termination of the writing staff are being filled by soulless, anonymous AP wire threads, several of them already accompanied by comment sections from the various other blogs or sites from which they’ve been copied.

I’ve seen this before in NBC’s increasingly cryogenic dystopia. I’m something of a weather geek in my spare time; having spent thirty years as a private (and occasionally commercial, though not passenger-carrying) pilot meteorological knowledge was a must and I became fascinated with it all. Ergo, The Weather Channel, in its heyday (ie, before it was sold to the Bain Capital / NBC consortium that ruined it)  was one of my favorite science sites to visit. But you know what happened: NBC slashed its budget, laid orf some of its most competent and long-term staff, not just on-camera meteorologists like Captain Mitchell (in whom any programming executives with half a mind in their brains would have recognized from the git-go a superstar in her field) but behind-the-scenes folks as well. They terminated live weather coverage from 8PM to 5AM on weekdays and from 2PM to 5AM on weekends, and replaced it with a sickening farrago of reality programming excrement, much of it having little or nothing to do with meteorology, and most of it endlessly repeated in varying times slots. Retch.  Essentially, the same thing has now happened to the site formerly known as Circling the Bases. I understand that NBC wants to sell orf The Weather Channel. Oh, if only they would do the same with what little is left now of Circling the Bases.

So, regretfully, after having some months since already shifted my in-depth or extended writing to Fan Interference, I bid adieu to the replicant site into which a once-great sports blog has degenerated. Sorry, Craig, I’ll try to keep up with you on other media but as long as NBC thinks they can hold my interest with an undead product, I’ll settle in right here where it’s warm, comfortable, and humane. Since the ambulatory sphincters at NBC have apparently torpedoed the old site’s archives as well, all those wonderful blog posts and commentaries will now be lost, apropos Roy Batty’s perceptions, like tears in rain.






61 thoughts on “Hardball Talk, Like Tears in Rain

  1. I am very sad to hear this. Thanks to Circling the Bases aka Hardball Talk, I became a better baseball fan, and more importantly, I made some great friends. It challenged me, it entertained me, and yes, it even made me cry. The most heartbreaking thing I ever read in a comments section was posted there after a minor leaguer came out as gay. Back in its heyday, I wondered how long those Corporate Sycophants would let us have that community. It seemed too good to be true that NBC would let us have that playground, and yes, it was. They took it away.

    Great post, Original Gangsta.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hope I don’t embarrass myself here but I think you’re referring to the post I made on the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, trying to explain my feelings as someone who has felt compelled to keep my true sexual orientation bottled up and unknown to all for my entire life.

      The overwhelming supportive replies meant a lot to me, but it wasn’t lost on me that I was making one of the most important communications of my life to people who only knew that I was some Twins fan living somewhere in Minneapolis.

      I’m glad HBT went in the toilet, because it led to the creation of this site. Now some of you know something about who I really am.

      Rick Frederick aka happytwinsfan

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s feelings, but I’ve seen a lot of quality message boards in a wide variety of topics come and go over 20 years on the internet.

    As many of you know, I don’t have a favorite Major League team. Since I concentrate on roto baseball pretty much year round (I drafted my first team for this season in mid October) it’s better for me to be dispassionate. The only sports team I root for anymore is the Denver Broncos.

    The first Bronco board I ever posted on was hosted by The Rocky Mountain News and it quite literally changed my life. I met my best friend of the last 20 years on that board and another dear friend that I’ve now known for more than half his life. I also met the woman who would become my wife.

    The Rocky Mountain News Bronco message board went away, as did The Rocky Mountain News, caught up in the great American newspaper purge that began over 30 years ago. Some survivors banded together in an ill fated board that limped along for a few months and then disintegrated from general apathy. A core group of us then went to a board called the Orange Mane, which was populated largely with assholes. The one consolation is we added another member to our group and I added another friendship I’ve maintained for over ten years now. Again, we splintered off onto our own board, but we were too insular and that board also faded away.

    Out of the blue, someone told me about a new Bronco board called It’s All Over, Fat Man, which is how then Bronco linebacker Tom Jackson taunted then Raider head coach John Madden at the end of the 1977 AFC Championship Game. Yes, it’s stupid, but Bronco fans cherish that moment. This board was everything I could ever hope for in a Bronco board. Intelligent writers who embraced new metrics and all of them were outspoken liberals. Unfortunately, the guys writing that board all drifted away to various other commitments. So, another group splintered off and formed a board called In Thin Air, which maintains the high standards of the previous board and it gives us a safe haven to discuss the professional future of men with nicknames like Buttfumble.

    So – for those of you who are still reading – I’ve posted on six Bronco boards regularly over the last 20 years. Not counting the Denver Post board, Mile High Report, Broncomania and half a dozen other boards that I tried and found wanting. Many of them have faded away, too.

    The sad thing is even though we have kept together various core groups of posters, every change of venues meant we would lose some people we really liked. But, you know, people come in and out of our lives all the time. Friends, acquaintances, co-workers, romantic interests, classmates. We make the effort to hold onto the ones that really matter to us and hope they will reciprocate.

    Liked by 5 people

    • i’m on my second A’s board. we are few now, about 20, but stable. cant go back to the old country. we don’t grow because we have the google shields up and we never recruit, although new people are always welcome.

      I think I have met all but 2 of these people IRL now, been to weddings, parties, and of course ballgames.

      My point is, yes things change, but you can find stability. especially if what the board is not the focus, but the community

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I’ve gone from Yahoo Clubs to Yahoo Communities to MSN Communities to Livejournal with a handful of friends that I have known for almost 20 years now. Some of them have splintered off onto other formats that I have followed as well, because for me, if it’s important – the friendship, the community, that feeling of family – I will make an effort.

      Heck, I used to go to the Monster.com chat room and made a bunch of friends there. When Monster disabled the chat – and I know why, we didn’t always talk about finding work – I reached out to the folks I knew, who reached out to the folks they knew, etc. and we started a Yahoo! Club. Which devolved into chaos. But there were a couple of people that I still stayed in contact with, because they were real friends. And then when I joined facebook, I found those people again, who knew some of the other people that I missed, and now we’ve kind of created a little family again. These are people who are incredibly excited that I’m moving out east; 99% of them live in PA or NJ, so they are saying stuff like “MONSTER WEEKEND!” and things. it’s hilarious.

      All this to say that sometimes things last for a moment, but what you gain from it lasts a lifetime.


    • Rachel had no expiration setting, remember? Deckerd was in for a lot of unnatural sex. Well, more power to him – the real stuff gets you paternity suits.


  3. I go back every once in a while to HBT to see what’s going on, but it’s becoming more and more infrequent, as the site redesign was a dog’s breakfast. I usually enjoyed Craig’s writing but it was the comment section — and most of you people — that hooked me when I first discovered the blog. Now that most of the regulars are gone from over there — writers and commenters– there is no reason really to go back now. That said, we need to find a way to pry some of the remaining good guys from over there, guys like Cur and PC, without also attracting the Dirty Harry and Bicepts wanna-bes.

    You have created a good product here, Scout, but we need to nurture it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So, this is where all you crazy kids went to. I agree that HBT has become a corporate shithole and Craig is an NBC shill now. I feel like a baseball refugee.

    Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks. I just wanted you guys to know that I was still above ground, even though the state of the Phillies has doubled my alcohol consumption.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Fortunately, neither Jan Brewer nor Trump have found us yet so no one’s agitating against refugees here. Welcome. You can sign up for your free stipends and financial support over there, in that little room under the big copper statue. I’m delighted they finally found the cure and thawed you out. Welcome home!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, Old Gator. My fellow NL East foe. The political and language giant. I see you have been busy with this little project here. Good work by you.


        • Think back willya – I was one of the most vocal correspondents trying to get Craigster to be gentler with you. Don’t worry. Now that you’re here, you’ve got a home out back in the shed. Just rap gently on the kitchen door when you’re hungry.

          I think the real fun will start when the Feelies are approaching contender status again. Meanwhile, go have one of those horrible horsemeat and Velveeta™ sandwiches on me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I know and appreciated it, OG. I always let the politics stuff get the best of my temper with stuff Craig wrote. I save that stuff for my political home now. My love is baseball and the Phillies. It has and always will be. And of course plenty of beer. In increases the size of my Cepts.


        • Phillies do have some good looking prospects. What I didn’t like was that the new President and GM didn’t think it would be a good idea to sign FA bullpen help in the offseason. Phillies have a ton of money, so there is no excuse not to spend. People tell me that because they are rebuilding they shouldn’t spend until later. I never bought into that nonsense.

          The Phillies bullpen this year will be atrocious and could have been avoided.


        • You’ve also got Aaron Nola, and I think he’s got serious potential.

          Hi, We never talked, mostly because you were always banned. But I remember your comments. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I think I was banned probably about 5 times on HBT. The last time was when I criticized a post about MLB joining some dating site that Gleeman wrote about. He got pissed off and banned me. Hahahaha! I think it was about 2 years ago.


        • I tend to agree with you. I don’t think a rebuilding team should spend big on a closer, but having a competent one is important. I don’t think the development of VV, Nola and Eickhoff will be aided by seeing the bullpen blow games for them repeatedly. Why give those young guys another thing to worry about?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed. It does no good to the confidence of the young starters. David Hernandez is a joke. He has no fastball and his command isn’t any good. He was their biggest FA acquisition in the offseason. Unreal.


  5. I don’t think I’ve even been over to Craigville in months. A look now shows a lot fewer comments/commenters than before.

    As for food, when I was a kid, we had “wet fries” out in New Mexico. No cheese curds, but plenty of brown gravy. Weirdly, the place that I always had them at was a Chinese restaurant.

    And, with talk of meat sandwiches, it’s time for a walk, then some birdstalking with my new lens, then a sammich … I think a mix of genoa salami, hard salami and Canadian bacon calls.

    But, among the best smoked meats is still smoked kippers.


  6. I’m going to permanently join the HBT exodus, as long as you folks will have me. Even before the purge over there, the comment section had degraded precipitously since the season opened, to the point where seemingly half of them were there just to call Craig an asshole.

    I hope the departed, plus Craig and Bill, all find better places to ply their trade in the future.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. From what I heard, Drew, Matthew and D.J were actually Moonlighting at HBT. Their prImary jobs were to manage that cash cow called Rotoworld (which they created anyway if I’m not mistaken). Apparently the blog was making them work 60+ hours a week, so they were told to stop moonlighting and Bill was hired full time to pick up some slack.

    Of course I could be entirely wrong.


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