The Littlest Girl uses a device to speak, and she recently discovered the word “owl,” which she must really love the way the word sounds. Because, while I’m sure owls are great and all, their awesomeness cannot be the sole explanation for why she will look up at you and smile while she absolutely spams the button for owl. “Owl. Owl. Owl. Owl. Owl. Owl.” But, hey, if the sound makes her happy, then I love to hear it, too …
• Well, I guess it’s a big day for Major League Baseball, the lockout, and the Collective Bargaining Negotiations. It’s the first day since the lockout began 82 days ago that a significant group of representatives from each side will hunker down for a full day of in-person negotiations. In theory, anyway. Like, not one of those 15 minute meetings. The league has stated its intention to negotiate every day this week if necessary, with an eye on getting a deal done by Friday (or at least by Monday, February 28), which is the deadline MLB has set for preserving the March 31 Opening Day. So, given how far apart the sides are, each day this week is going to have to feature substantial movement (starting with the owners coming in with a huge move on the luxury tax today).
• I have long lost any sense of optimism on any of this, so it’s hard for me to look at this week as anything more than “this is what we have to do before we can say, sorry, April is cancelled.” I’m sure I’m being OVERLY negative at this point, but can you really blame a guy after nearly three months (and, frankly, two years) of this crap? HAPPY MONDAY MORNING, FRIENDS!
• This is an article at The Athletic about killing the shift, and while I don’t agree with large sections of it (because the discussion ignores long-term behavior changes by hitters, which is absolutely part of my thinking, at least), I do think it’s good reading overall. And a great point from Freddie Freeman on why, in the short-term, hitters can’t just suddenly start slapping the ball the other way:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 21, 2022
• A little bit of Cubs history, and I can’t believe it’s been a decade since I was breathlessly tracking this annoying story:
10 years ago today, the Cubs sent pitching prospect Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox as compensation for hiring Theo Epstein, ending a four-month-long beef about what exactly the Cubs had promised to send Boston (in what was effectively a trade): https://t.co/Hx85CQAJrt pic.twitter.com/M67HZFWyf6
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 21, 2022
• That said … pretty good trade for the Cubs.
• It remains such a vexing topic, because of how consistently funky it has been, but yet another metric – a theoretically better version of expected BABIP – has David Bote as one of the most unlucky hitters in baseball in 2021, having posted a mere .235 BABIP, but you would’ve expected something closer to .300 based on his contact quality, directionality, and sprint speed. That is a huge difference. Two big caveats on that, though: (1) even with those extra 60 points of BABIP, Bote would’ve been only a near league-average hitter overall, and (2) we’ve seen this issue repeatedly with him in his career (which is now over 1000 PAs).
• I still don’t quite know what to make of this constant results/expectations disparity for Bote, since, yes, it is of course possible that over the full scope of baseball there would occasionally be guys who are massively unlucky even in the face a large sample like 1000 PAs. But it is also possible that there is something about Bote’s contact that isn’t being captured in the data, and he really is “earning” his bad luck, so to speak. Without health and opportunity, we may never truly know the answer. In any case, you just hope Bote can get that shoulder healthy, resume playing capable infield defense, and be a league-average-ish bat off the bench. That’s what’s realistic at this point.
• Not unlike running on to the field during a game, I suppose I can understand the very momentary allure, but there’s just no possible way it’s ultimately worth the punishment you’re going to face:
A man is in police custody after he took a joyride on the Petco Park field in San Diego. The park was in the process of being converted back to a baseball field from a previous event. The man was arrested on felony vandalism charges and possibly trespassing. 📹: Ryan Carlson pic.twitter.com/lI8ivUJotB
— Malik Earnest (@MalikEarnest) February 20, 2022
• Of course, with running onto the field – don’t do it, by the way! – you might be able to claim that you’d been drinking, got caught up in an exciting moment in the game, and you just made a split-second decision to just go for it. This guy had to have seen an open gate or something, while driving in his car, and thought, “It’s time to make the donuts!”
• I can understand why the Cleveland Naps wound up laying down that season, but the other three have no excuse:
The only teams to start out a season at least 34-19 but end the season with a losing record:
1905 Cleveland Naps
1985 Chicago Cubs
1995 Philadelphia Phillies
2021 San Diego Padres
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) February 21, 2022
• Pretty cool moment:
Michael Jordan Gets Huge Ovation, Celebrates With Old Friends During NBA’s 75th Anniversary Ceremonyhttps://t.co/ruLR0NULqR
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 21, 2022