dominican flagThis whole Lance Armstrong Oprah interview, complete with a reported confession of doping (isn’t it funny how we naturally use “doping” for sports like cycling, and “juicing” for sports like baseball? There really isn’t a euphemism in football, because nobody seems to care about it there), is pretty ill-time for baseball, don’t you think? With the ugly Hall of Fame vote now in the past, I’d imagine MLB wanted to get past this discussion as quickly as possible. But with Lance taking the headlines back for using PEDs in the late-90s and early 2000s, baseball will be attached, for obvious reasons. (The best Armstrong article to read today, by the way, is this one.)

  • A Chicago Tribune travel piece about heading to the Dominican Republic to watch baseball, featuring Junior Lake prominently. It includes a pretty great description of the Dominican Winter League, and what it’s like to play baseball in the DR. A sample, on why the DR has been such a hotbed for future MLB talent: “The answer unfolded as we drove through the small town buzzing with commerce — pharmacies, fruit stands and cellphone stores — and young men on smoky mopeds. At its edge, San Pedro pays homage to its greatest export artistically: tall wire statues of a pitcher, catcher and batter. Minutes later we passed the living version of the same scene: three 8- to 9-year-old boys on a rubble-strewn lot where a rusty paint-can lid served as home plate. We stopped for a closer look. When the catcher decided to play outfield, I took over behind the plate — that is, the rusty paint-can lid — for a few minutes, dutifully returning the ball to a small, thin pitcher. But then the huskiest of the boys cracked a pitch beyond a neighboring fence, far enough that after a brief, fruitless search, the boys deemed the ball gone. Fortunately, a tennis ball sat in reserve. Game on.” It’s a great read, and a reminder why the Cubs are devoting such a healthy chunk of time and money to developing a state of the art facility in the DR.
  • Bruce Miles on the approach of Spring Training, and the Cubs Convention.
  • I mentioned the Cubs signing pitcher Dayan Diaz a little while ago, and remarked that he actually had the look of an interesting prospect, rather than your typical minor league signing this time of  year. Well, in his most recent mailbag, Baseball America’s Jim Callis dropped this: “I asked Matt [Eddy] if he had any particular favorites among the remaining [minor league] free-agent crop. He didn’t, though he did admit to being intrigued by righthander Dayan Diaz. He’s just 5-foot-10 and has a ton of effort in his delivery, but he does have a 93-98 mph fastball.” Obviously Matt and Jim were a little behind on the signing, but the point is: Diaz was probably the most notable minor league free agent available at this point. And I like that description of him, too.

  • Ever wonder what all these PED might do to a regular Joe? Well, here’s a guy who wanted to figure out just that, so he tried it, himself. The results are pretty surprising (and scary). (h/t to BN’er Greg)
  • Mark Grace speaks about being let go by the Diamondbacks from their broadcast booth (a spot taken by Bob Brenly), and about trying to get back on track.
  • More on the Cubs and Colin Kaepernick.
  • Sammy Sosa, in the full swing of a social media blitz, shared a video with his many followers yesterday. It’s a package of a bunch of his home runs, and Tim over at Obstructed View did a nice job of breaking the video down, frame by frame. Here’s the video (and, no, it isn’t broken for those first 18 seconds of silence):

More social media craziness: Nyjer Morgan’s Twitter was … a little off last night. He says it was hacked, of course, and maybe it was. But, yeah … it was crazy:

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