I don’t think I have any intro that can beat this:
The two best words you’ll read all day:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 23, 2018
Here’s some news from around the league …
- A couple weeks ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred claimed that player salaries have risen alongside league revenue … and we all were pretty surprised to hear that. More honestly … I simply didn’t believe it. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been so dismissive. At the Ringer, Ben Lindbergh took a deep dive into that claim and discovered that … hey, yeah … baseball salaries might just be where they’re supposed to be. Specifically, the compensation paid to Major League players plus their insurance benefit plan costs and postseason share payments equals 50.10% of league revenues … the same as last year, and actually even higher than 2014. Wow.
- If true (and I have no reason to believe it’s not accurate since the MLBPA declined to dispute the figure), this would be a pretty significant ding against the labor union’s unrest. A 50/50 revenue split between the players and owners is not just gut-level fair, it’s pretty standard across the other major sports (some of which have etched that into league-law). With that said, the total player share is still far lower than the 2003 peak of 63% – but finding the right balance is sort of a different question, once you’ve established that the split is currently 50/50. So, I guess, the ball is in the Players Association’s court – convince the owners that the players deserve more (that’s not sarcastic, if there’s an argument to be made I’d love to hear it). Much more at The Ringer.
- If you missed the news in the Bullets this morning, Rays prospect Brent Honeywell (top 20 prospect in baseball) got some bad news today when he felt a pop in his throwing arm – Tommy John surgery is now in his future. Here he is talking about the experience in unusually candid and intimate fashion just a day after the injury occurred. If you have the time, I really encourage you to listen to the interview – it’s very rare to hear from a player so soon after the injury itself:
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) February 23, 2018
- Good luck in the process to that young man.
- Perhaps in response to the “juiced ball” home run spike over the last two years (or the low-seamed, tightly-wound, and slick-finished balls of the postseason), Major League baseball is forcing teams to store baseballs in air-conditioned, enclosed rooms this season. This will be the first time MLB is standardizing how teams store baseballs. In theory, that will at least help normalize the environmental impact on the baseballs themselves as they sit around. Dryer balls tend to fly further.
- Of course, the home run spike of the last couple years was never entirely predicated on the juiced ball theory. The fly ball revolution played a role and has been difficult to stop. One pitching strategy that was supposed to combat the positive offensive effects of the fly ball revolution was pitching up in the zone more often – the theory being something like it’s hard to lift those pitches at the right angle to maximize distance. But despite pitchers throwing in the upper third of the zone more often than usual … batters still had a ton of success. In fact, they had more success against pitches up in the zone than they were before. Travis Sawchik explores the phenomenon here at FanGraphs.
- Is there a better, more well-informed hitter than Joey Votto in baseball right now?
"Let the ball be your feedback."
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 23, 2018
- I honestly don’t think so.
- Last season, no one really had the Yankees making the playoffs, let alone just barely missing a division title and coming dangerously close to the World Series, but they did just that. Over the offseason, as we know, they added the 2017 NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, to the mix, and are generally considered favorites in the American League East, if not right up there with the Houston Astros in the entire AL … but not to Brian Cashman. According to the GM, the Yankees are still just “the little engine that could.” I think he’s trying to play the underdog card again, but … is anyone buying it?
- In 1997, the Seattle Mariners hit 264 home runs as a team, setting a record that stands to this day. Last season, the Yankees came close to the record, hitting 241 home runs throughout the course of the regular season, but ultimately fell short. This year, however, after adding Stanton to the mix, the Yankees are projected to hit 269 home runs, which would beat the record. But not unlike the year Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire both left Roger Maris in the past, the Orioles, at 267 home runs, are also projected to top the record. Jeff Sullivan has the full story at FanGraphs. (The Cubs aren’t too far down the projected list, either!)
- Former All-Star reliever Jonny Venters has had three (and a half!) Tommy John surgeries throughout his career and hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2012. But now, he’s trying to make a comeback with the Tampa Bay Rays and is at Spring Training with them right now. If he’s successful, he’ll be the first player to ever come back from three (or four, depending on how you count one of his procedures) Tommy John surgeries. That’d be a pretty cool story.
- Tim Tebow is still grinding away in the Mets organization, though he is in big-league camp this year … and smashing baseballs at the same time:
Your daily Tim Tebow update: He just hit the roof of a storage shed beyond the right-center field fence during BP. His power is legitimate. pic.twitter.com/vlmMLWE5D7
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 22, 2018
- In this article at MLB.com, Tebow shares some stories from his first year in the Minor Leauges, which included 15-hour bus rides and playing at stadiums, whose video boards are displaying montages of the worst interceptions in his career. But despite the struggle, Tebow has a surprisingly positive demeanor/outlook. And, hey, if the GM has your back, why wouldn’t you be positive?
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 19, 2018
- David Letterman has a new mini-series on Netflix called “My Next Guest [Needs no Introduction]” and it’s absolutely wonderful. He’s had two guests so far, former President Barack Obama and George Clooney. On the show, the latter retold a story of his real tryout for the Cincinnati Reds back in the day:
- And finally, at Baseball is Fun, we took a look at Jen Pawol, one of just two female umpires in professional baseball, who got a chance to ump her first Major League game yesterday (a Tigers exhibition match):
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 23, 2018