A Baseball Umpire’s Guide to Neutrality

Be Invisible, Defuse Conflict, and Value Safety Above All Else

Can we, and should we, ever really be neutral? In a new series, Zócalo explores the idea of neutrality—in politics, sports, gender, journalism, international law, and more. In this essay, umpire Calvin Wells explains why his role is more than just calling balls and strikes.

Umpiring baseball games is the only job I’ve ever had where you’re expected to be absolutely perfect on day one and continuously get better each and every day after that.

That might sound like a paradox. But that pressure to be …

The Losing A’s Found a Winning City to Host Them

West Sacramento Is on a Hot Streak. Other California Cities Should Watch

The Oakland A’s are baseball’s biggest losers. But their new temporary home—West Sacramento—is one of California’s greatest winners.

No California city has had a better 21st century than West Sacramento. The …

Before Taylor and Travis, There Was Helen and John

She Was an Actress. He Was a Shortstop. We Can Learn From the Press Parade Around This 19th-Century Power Couple

Everyone who’s the least bit plugged into the NFL or popular culture, or has spent at least five minutes out of a coma the past few months, knows why the …

Which California Baseball Team Has the Worst Owner in Pro Sports?

The Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Are in a Race to the Bottom

In California, a land blessed with more than its fair share of winners, we learn our most important lessons by dwelling among the losers.

So, in this final week of the …

tktk | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

If You’re Latinx, Loving the Dodgers Is Complicated

The Team’s Ballpark Has a Dark History. But There’s No Other Place I Feel More Like an Angeleno and Chicana

As a kid growing up in Echo Park in the 1970s, I would walk to Dodger Stadium with my brother or kids in the neighborhood. For three dollars, we could …

My ‘Field of Dreams’ Above Carpinteria | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

My ‘Field of Dreams’ Above Carpinteria

At Santa Barbara County’s Ken McMullen Baseball Camp, a True Team Player Taught Us How to Teach Others

Did you have strange dreams during this unsettling, crazy California summer? Me too.

Mine compressed time and space. In dreamland, I toggled between the anxious claustrophobia of summer 2020 and memories …