We are just about two weeks away from the regular season getting underway. It’s kind of amazing to be saying that given where things stood just two weeks ago.
• An extremely well-put reminder from Kyle Hendricks why you can’t worry about Spring Training results for established, veteran players (Cubs.com): “Goal No. 1 was to execute each pitch and focus on that. And outside of that, focusing on pitching down in the zone. Today with [catcher Yan Gomes], we really wanted to establish the fastball down and then go from there and try to read swings. I felt did a really good job with angle today and I was missing just down in the zone, which I’d rather have right now because it wasn’t there last year.” Sometimes, they are working on something very specific, and they don’t care about the results out in the field; they care only about how they are executing some specific thing that is helping them prepare for the regular season. And that’s when, for those types of players, we can start really evaluating the performance (please bounce back, Kyle).
• Wade Miley has reached the 30-pitch mark in his bullpen sessions, and might be to a point next week where he can pitch in a Spring Training game. He wants to do the up-down thing first in his next throwing session. By his estimation, his worst case scenario would be that he could be ready to make a normal-ish start in the first week of the season, but at the back of the rotation after the first off-day. I have zero problem with the Cubs – and Miley – taking it very slow with his ramp up.
• Steven Brault, whose big league deal with the Cubs was converted to a minor league deal after triceps inflammation was discovered in the physical, is still happy to have landed with the Cubs. Among his reasons? The fans at Wrigley Field (Marquee):
“I always say my favorite place to shag batting practice is Wrigley because the fans get there early and they like to talk and so do I,” Brault said. “I’ve always had a lot of fun doing it. My third game I ever pitched in the major leagues was at Wrigley Field 2016 against Jake Arrieta. It was crazy. It was absolutely insane.
“That was when the [bullpen] mound was still on the side, not behind the [outfield wall]. Oh my god, dude, it was unbelievable. I was like, this is the place I wanna go. There’s the insults but then there’s like creative insults. Chicago fans really get that. I appreciate that kind of humor.
• When talking about the resumption of the free runner in extra innings rule, I was joking on Twitter about how to make things even crazier (start extras with the bases loaded and two outs), but one of my jokes actually immediately then struck me as kinda interesting: what if the rules of extra innings were just normal baseball, except that, for each extra inning, you lost a defender in the field? So in the 10th inning, each team has to take the field with just eight defenders (deployed wherever you want). In the 11th inning, just seven defenders. And so on. That’d be fun!
• OK, but yes, I do see the issue: if you remained tied through, say, the 14th inning or so, it could start to become REALLY hard to retire the side. I guess this one will stay on the cutting room floor.
• Included in those rules is a “Shohei Ohtani Rule” – well, it’s not EXPLICITLY called that, but for now, he’s the only player it would impact: if your starting pitcher is also your designated hitter on a given day, he will get to stay in as the DH even after he’s pulled from the game as the starting pitcher. In theory, it will incentivize the development of more true two-way players, though I would say Ohtani is a freak, and it’s generally easier to just, you know, have a good-hitting DH available. But yes, for roster-creation purposes, it was always going to be a big advantage to have a true two-way stud available. I’m not sure this rule makes that all that much more true, though.
• The Ricketts Family has been met with staunch resistance among fans – and some players – in response to their efforts to bid on the Chelsea Football Club. A big source of conflict? The racist and Islamophobic emails from family patriarch Joe Ricketts that leaked a few years ago.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 22, 2022
"Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms"
The Ricketts family, who are amongst those bidding for Chelsea Football Club, have released a statement responding to criticism from certain sections of supporters. pic.twitter.com/d6MlQKoxBc
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 23, 2022
• He said he was gonna do it, and Senator Bernie Sanders is indeed doing it:
Bernie Sanders is launching the Save American Baseball Act to "strip Major League Baseball of its 100 year-old antitrust exemption." Here's a teaser for his announcement on tonight's REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL. https://t.co/8E52b185JZ
— Kate Feldman (@kateefeldman) March 22, 2022
• I am not going to dig in too deeply on the implications of MLB losing its antitrust exemption until and unless it becomes something close to a reality (still a long way to go), but it would most immediately impact the way MLB controls minor league baseball and the way it controls the way teams coordinate with each other on territories (for example, broadcast territories).
• In a not-entirely-unrelated note, Joc Pederson ain’t messin’ around:
Embarrassed for your fan base…be better. If you can’t, sell ur team to somebody that wants to show the fan base and baseball they’re at least trying to compete. Sorry unacceptable pic.twitter.com/n5KZpxgEor
— Joc Pederson (@yungjoc650) March 23, 2022
• Jacob deGrom made his Spring Training debut after a long layoff from last year, and it sure looks like he’s going to remain absurdly good this year when healthy:
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 23, 2022
• Hometown looks for the Cubs:
Snohomish. Lucedale. Livingston.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 21, 2022
• The weird – and probably dangerous – new outfield notch in Baltimore is taking its troubling shape:
Orioles have made OPACY… different. pic.twitter.com/JSKv2GQfu2
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) March 22, 2022
• Another miss:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 22, 2022