MLBits: Messy Winter, Marlins BS, New Rays Ballpark, No More .400 Hitters, and More

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MLBits: Messy Winter, Marlins BS, New Rays Ballpark, No More .400 Hitters, and More

Chicago Cubs

I went to the Blackhawks game last night, and I since I don’t go to a ton of hockey games, I have a couple thoughts.

First, wow the pace of hockey games laughs in the face of baseball. And given that we’ve been talking about pace-of-play around here so much, that really stood out to me. I guess I already knew this, having watched plenty of Hawks games since, well, 2009-2010 (Is there room on that bandwagon? Great! – Michael circa 2009), but it just feels all the more high-pace in person.

Which brings me to my second point: Watching hockey games in person is about 1000x better than seeing them on TV. It’s hard to really put it into words, but the extra value added by being there was higher than it was for other sports. I mean, it still doesn’t beat a summer day at Wrigley, but it was pretty close.

Speaking of Wrigley, let’s talk baseball. Here’s some news from around the league …

  • Jon Heyman (FanRag) writes that there’s “no end in sight to baseball’s messy winter.” Joy. Despite tiny battles won here or there, Heyman implies both the league and the union are losing this overall war, because both sides look bad to the fans (i.e., the folks who should actually be a primary focus in all of this) in one way or another. Basically, if you’re looking for a detailed, in-depth look at what has already happened, what’s currently going on, and what the future might hold, Heyman’s piece is kinda perfect. It’s long, but it has a ton of detail and quotes from all sides of the issue, so be sure to check it out.
  • In a much short, but much harder to parse take, Scott Boras had some thoughts about the current commissioner, compared to his predecessor:

  • I think I get the general point he’s making here, but I’m not sure I share the sentiment. And, frankly, in my opinion Rob Manfred isn’t perfect, but he’s – at least – more forward-thinking and focused on the future of baseball than Selig ever was.
  • Continuing down a similar path, Evan Altman (Cubs Insider) brought up an excellent point on Twitter:

  • Wonder why so many teams are especially reluctant to hand out those five or six-year deals? Sure, player age has a lot to do with it, but maybe also teams are concerned that the entire landscape and rules of baseball are going to be VERY different in four years, and who knows how that fifth or sixth year might hamstring you?
  • At Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci has another very long, but very good read on Derek Jeter, his early time with the Marlins, and his quest to turn the ship around. Among the more frustrating parts is when Jeter suggested that even if the Marlins had added Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish at the beginning of the offseason (i.e. before the firesale) they “wouldn’t have won.” Well, Eno Sarris of FanGraphs did the math:

  • Sarris went on to add that even if you are more conservative and just give them 14 or 15 wins they’d be easily above .500 and into the wild card range.
  • A couple days ago, Jeter even mentioned that the Marlins are starting in a deeper hole than the expansion team Major League Soccer is bringing to Florida. Those comments did not sit well with me, given what Jeter (and company) has done to the team. To be fair, Jeter says that the team has a plan and intends on sticking to it, but just needs some time for fans to see if it really work. But, sigh, that’s sort of the problem everybody has with his leadership so far, right? Everyone in baseball is PAINFULLY aware of the reasons tanking works (it’s basically at the root of this offseason’s problems). Most just think Jeter is doing a poor job, because the team seems to be prioritizing money over prospects in their big trade returns this winter. That’s the disconnect.
  • Let’s change gears, because this is potentially great news:

  • Why do I care if the Rays are inching closer to a new stadium? Well, aside from the fact that their ballpark location is a disaster and it would just be good for baseball if they could get a lot more attendance, there’s a broader baseball impact here. If you remember, expansion is still on the table for Major League Baseball (which would not only be fun (more teams!), but could also help paint a better playoff picture), but the Commissioner said nothing would move forward until the stadium decisions in Tampa Bay and Oakland are resolved. And it sounds like we may be 50% of the way there by some time today. Cool.
  • Regarding the Spring Training camp for free agents, although it was previously indicated that Scott Boras clients wouldn’t be attending, he now says they might:

  • At ESPN, Sam Miller writes that no one will ever hit .400 in Major League Baseball again … and he’s probably right. In fact, not only is that basically a dead record, Miller argues that even the chase for the record is extinct. I mean, Kris Bryant will obviously do it this year, but other than him … extinct! Anyway, I’ve been perusing this article to find the most fun stat to share and get you to click over, but there are actually too many to pick (How about this: David Wright hit over .400 through May 24th in 2012 and that’s the deepest mark in a decade). So check out Miller’s post to see who’s come closest in recent years, who might have the best chance in the future, and what some of the failed chases have looked like.
  • And finally, at Baseball is Fun – speaking of guys who at one time seemed like they had a chance at .400 – I took a look at the rocket Ichiro Suzuki had in place of an arm:

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami