Baseball is back! While actual games are still a few days away, and actually interesting spring training games are a little after that, there are Diamondbacks players doing baseball-related things in Arizona, so all is a little better in the world. The team seems to have improved over the offseason, but it remains to be seen whether or not Hazen’s... fiscally sound improvements can keep up with the ATM spewing forth money in LA.
In other baseball news, the Astros finally had no choice but to face the media and answer questions about their illegal sign stealing operations, both the proven allegations as well as the speculation that has followed about other ways it could have been happening. The results were about what one would expect.
On the first day pitchers and catchers worked out at Salt River Fields this week, Trackman devices lined the bullpens nearest to the Diamondbacks’ facility, one positioned behind home plate on each of the six mounds. The Diamondbacks have used the technology for years, though never so openly and in such great numbers.
The first day of Madison Bumgarner’s spring was exactly the same as all of the others in so many ways, except Bumgarner took part in a morning workout at Salt River Fields, not Scottsdale Stadium. He has for most of his professional life been famous enough that he’s the first starter to draw a crowd every spring, but this time, as Bumgarner spoke to a dozen reporters, he wore a black Arizona Diamondbacks cap.
Aaron Blair, of course, is a former Diamondback already. He was one of their first round picks in the 2013 draft and worked his way up through the minors to make his debut for the Snakes. He left when he was included in that trade with the Braves under the Dave Stewart administration. Long time friends of the site might remember that his dad was a semi-regular poster on the ‘Pit during Blair’s time with the team
As the Major League Baseball team’s pitchers and catchers took the field for the first time in preparation for the 2020 season Wednesday, the Diamondbacks and Banner unveiled the newly named complex called the Banner Sports Medicine Performance Center. It is at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, where the Diamondbacks play their Cactus League spring training games.
The former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher tweeted a photo of himself in a Seattle Mariners jersey Wednesday afternoon. About 20 minutes later, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Walker had signed a one-year deal with his original MLB team.
Houston Astros: “I’m sorry we got caught”
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s latest attempt at damage control blew up in spectacular fashion Thursday. In the span of 27 minutes at a news conference, he claimed his team’s routine cheating during its 2017 championship season didn’t impact the game, declared he shouldn’t be held accountable for the organization he runs, used commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the Astros’ malfeasance as a binky and so often repeated talking points that the Apology.exe program he tried to install in his head looked as if it were glitching. The entire charade devolved into a glorious conflagration, Crane’s mouth a veritable fountain of lighter fluid.
Astros owner Jim Crane was joined at a press conference on Thursday by new manager Dusty Baker and infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. As Altuve addressed his club’s sign-stealing scandal, a Los Angeles-based news station let their TV chyron illustrate their thoughts on the Houston star.
Spring training truly is an occasion for optimism. When baseball players report to Florida and Arizona in February, warmer weather feels closer and closer. No team owns a losing record. Happy thoughts.
Not this year. For we have too much reason to spend these next few weeks hatin’ on the Houston Astros.
“Well, I’ll tell you this: They’re in a real tough spot because they have an absolutely fantastic team,” Hall said. “And I don’t know how much of that was a part of it. And I don’t think any of us really know the full story, nor would we want to even go there. I don’t think it’s up to me to decide whether it’s tainted or whether it’s legit. That’s up to baseball.”
As far as I’m concerned the Houston Astros’ greatest crime was giving Yankees and Dodgers fans something legitimate to act aggrieved about.— Jesse Thorn (@JesseThorn) February 13, 2020
Trevor Bauer has been very vocal over the past few years about his perceived shortcomings of the Astros organization. To say the past two months have been a vindication for him would be a severe understatement. In the Player’s Tribune, he pens a very thoughtful examination of the situation.
The Rest of Baseball (or more stupidity from Rob Manfred)
In this concept, the team with the best record in each league would receive a bye to avoid the wild-card round and go directly to the Division Series. The two other division winners and the wild card with the next-best record would each host all three games in a best-of-three wild-card round. So the bottom three wild cards would have no first-round home games.
In 2012, according to Forbes, TBS paid $2.4 billion to broadcast one championship series, two division series, and a wildcard game — a maximum of 18 games per season — through 2021. Simply put, 16 new playoff games each year would generate billions in extra revenue.
The timing of such rumors is uncanny. With the new season on the horizon, there’s suddenly a distraction from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. And while a change in playoff format doesn’t quite have the sizzle of one of the most profound transgressions in the history of the sport, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred must be delighted that at least some of that negative attention has shifted towards the never-ending battle between baseball purists and progressives.