Weekend Open Thread

Another week down, another week closer to Spring Training. I’m starting to get desperate here. I need baseball. This offseason has been weird in too many ways. Anyway, here are the weekend links:

  • With the 2016 Hall of Fame vote compete, it’s time to look ahead. Jay Jaffe posted his annual five-year Hall of Fame projection. He sees eleven players being voted into Cooperstown over the next five years, including ex-Yankees Tim Raines (2017), Mariano Rivera (2019), Derek Jeter (2020), and Mike Mussina (2021). Jay’s the best Hall of Fame analyst out there. Don’t miss it.
  • Here’s a fun story from Arwa Mahdawi about a guy named Jeffrey who had kind of a boring wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, do it all again the next day life. He was sick of it, so he quit his job to pursue other stuff, until one day he picked up a Citi Bike in lower Manhattan and rode the damn thing to California. The trip took five months.
  • A few weeks before El Chapo was captured (again), Dana Priest wrote about the connection between the media and drug cartels in Mexico. The cartels use the threat of violence to control the news and have murdered reporters over their stories. Social media has made it more difficult for the cartels to control the news, but not impossible. Pretty scary stuff.
  • And finally, here’s an awesome post on The Players’ Tribune from former NHL player Ryan Whitney, who wrote about his experience playing in Russia. He retired young due to ankle problems and spent his final season as a player in Sochi. The YouTube video cracked me up.

Friday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. Not a whole lotta sports! going on tonight. The Nets are playing and that’s pretty much it. Not even any college hoops on the schedule. Anyway, you know how these work, so go nuts.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs resume with the Chiefs vs. Patriots (4:30pm ET on CBS) and Packers vs. Cardinals (8pm ET on NBC). The (hockey) Rangers already played, but the Devils are playing right now, and both the Knicks and Nets will play later tonight. There’s also a whole bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else.

Sunday: For one last time, this is the open thread. I’m bumping it up to the top of the site a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs. Today you’ve got Panthers vs. Seahawks (1pm ET on FOX) and Steelers vs. Broncos (4:30pm ET on CBS). The Rangers and Islanders are both playing too, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Have at it.

Saturday Links: Powell, Interpreters, Instant Replay, ESPN

Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)
Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

The Yankees handled some major offseason business on arbitration filing day yesterday. They agreed to new one-year deals with Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley, and exchanged figures with Aroldis Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova. They can still work out contracts with those four players. They aren’t necessarily headed for arbitration hearing now. Anyway, here are some assorted links and notes to pass along.

Yankees scouted cricket player Kieran Powell

Here’s a fun little story. Kieran Powell, one of the best cricket players in the world, is attempting to transition to baseball. Jack Curry says the Yankees had a scout on hand for his workout Wednesday. Powell, 25, is from the West Indies, and last summer he spent eight weeks working with former big leaguers to develop baseball skills. From Jared Diamond:

Following a contract dispute with the West Indies team, Powell’s agent sent footage of Powell to major-league teams, catching the eye of scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers. They arranged for Powell to spend eight weeks last summer training in Southern California with two former Dodgers players to start the process of dropping his “cricket habits” and learning the nuances of baseball. (Powell declined to reveal which ex-players worked with him.)

Powell headed to the IMG Academy in Florida to continue training following his crash course with the Dodgers. He’s been working with Tim Raines Jr. and former Yankees farmhand John-Ford Griffin. Here’s some video of him in the batting cage.

There is almost no overlap between baseball and cricket at the pro level, so Powell would be a pioneer. The games are similar in that you’re hitting a ball with a bat, but the swing mechanics are very different. (Cricket involves an extreme uppercut, for example.) Both games do require top notch hand-eye coordination though, and Powell has that.

Curry says the Yankees aren’t interested because they didn’t see any standout baseball skills, and one evaluator went as far as telling Wally Matthews, “He sucks. He’s not worth any time.” Ouch. I am curious see how Powell does on the diamond though.

Teams required to provide Spanish interpreters

According to Jerry Crasnick, teams will be required to provide full-time Spanish interpreters for players beginning next season thanks to a new directive implemented by MLB and the MLBPA. Many clubs already have interpreters while others rely on coaches or other players to translate during media scrums. Teams routinely hire individual interpreters for Asian players, but not Spanish players.

Carlos Beltran has been pushing for full-time Spanish interpreters for years, and in fact David Waldstein says Beltran reached out to the MLBPA to make it happen. Most notably Beltran spoke out after Pineda spoke to the media without an interpreter following the pine tar incident two years ago. “It’s a problem, of course, because he can’t express himself the way he wants to,” said Beltran the next day when he found out Pineda did not have a translator.

Roughly 25% of players come from Spanish speaking countries these days, so this is long overdue. I’m surprised it took this long for MLB and the union to get something done. You’d think they want to help players who are attempting to communicate in their second language. Hopefully the league implements a similar program in the minors. Of course, the MLBPA has been hanging minor leaguers out to dry for years now, so who knows.

MLB not close to changing replay rules for slides

MLB is not close to changing the instant replay rules for overslides, reports Jon Morosi. Those are the nitpicky plays where the the player comes off the base for an instant. Stuff like this:

I hate that. Yes, the rules say the player is out, but man, I don’t think that’s what anyone intended when they wanted expanded replay. If the player completely overslides the base, yes, then replay. But a little pop up off the bag like that? Especially when it’s the result of the impact of the slide? I feel like that should be off-limits from replay. Either way, no rule change is coming. Stay on the base.

ESPN releases early Sunday Night Baseball schedule

A few weeks ago ESPN announced the early season portion of their Sunday Night Baseball schedule. As always, the Yankees will be among the most featured clubs. Here are their games:

  • April 10th: Yankees at Tigers
  • May 1st: Yankees at Red Sox
  • May 8th: Red Sox at Yankees
  • July 17th: Red Sox at Yankees

The back-to-back Yankees-Red Sox games in early-May made me laugh. ESPN still pumps up the rivalry even though it’s been four years since both teams were good at the same time. At least some more teams will be involved in Sunday Night Baseball next year, including the Astros and Diamondbacks. The Astros haven’t played on Sunday Night Baseball since 2013 and the D’Backs haven’t been featured since 2008.

Also, ESPN announced a new Sunday Night Baseball booth: Dan Shulman remains as play-by-play man and will be joined by Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone. Curt Schilling will be moved to other broadcasts and John Kruk is going to be an in-studio analyst. Having a pro-Yankees guy (Boone) in the booth will be a welcome change.

Weekend Open Thread

Another week in the books means we’re another week closer to Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report in one month and ten days according to the countdown in the sidebar. It can’t come soon enough. People are starting to get offseason cabin fever, it seems. Here are the weekend links:

  • Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza are baseball’s two newest Hall of Famers, and, as Tyler Kepner explains, the two were almost teammates with the Mets. Griffey blocked a deal to the Mets before the he was traded to the Reds. So, instead, the Mets used the players they were going to send to the Mariners for Griffey to get Mike Hampton. Hampton helped them win the 2000 pennant, and when he left as a free agent, the compensation draft pick turned into David Wright. Neat story.
  • I really enjoyed Corinne Landrey’s post on the best long plate appearances of 2015. At seven minutes and 47 seconds, the Andrew Miller-Troy Tulowitzki battle was the longest plate appearance of the season in terms of elapsed time. It was the highest leverage plate appearance of both their careers at 8.23 LI (!). It’s also kinda fun Clayton Kershaw (batter) had a 13-pitch at-bat against Madison Bumgarner, which ended with a ground out.
  • Rather than link you off to some individual articles, I’m going to point you towards Longform.org’s favorite pieces of 2015. That way you can pick and choose what you want to read. There’s an overall top ten and then top fives within different categories. Lots of great stuff in there. Make sure you check it out.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing. There’s no college hoops though. Talk about those games, the links, or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs start today, so you’ve got the Chiefs vs. Texas (4pm ET on ABC and ESPN) and then the Steelers vs. Bengals (8pm ET on CBS). The Rangers and Islanders both played earlier today, though there is a bunch of college hoops on the schedule tonight. Have at it.

Sunday: Here’s the open thread one last time. I’m bumping this to the top of the site a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs. The Seahawks and Vikings play first (1pm ET on NBC) and then there’s the Packers and Redskins later this afternoon (4:30pm ET on FOX). The Devils and Nets are playing, and there’s some college basketball action too. Go nuts.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope your first day of 2016 went well. I made a bunch of resolutions like everyone else, most of which I probably won’t keep. So it goes. Here are the weekend links:

  • The end of the year means it’s time for Jayson Stark’s annual Strange But True columns. Here’s the regular season and here’s the postseason. There’s a bunch of Yankees-related stuff sprinkled throughout, though the fun is catching up on all the weird, crazy stuff that happened in baseball last year. They’re must reads, as always.
  • Here are David Laurila’s best quotes of 2015. My favorite, from MLB historian John Thorne: “It’s as if you had a competition between Fred Flintstone and Bill Gates. Hitters are primitive. There’s strategy involved in pitching, and there ought to be with batting — not mere swinging.”
  • This David Garrick article about the ownership of Petco Park is pretty wild. A mentally-ill man named Derris Devon McQuaig currently holds the legal title to the ballpark because he walked into the San Diego County Recorder’s Officer and submitted a properly filled-out deed transfer. That’s all it took. McQuaig has created quite a headache for the Padres.
  • And finally, check out this Tim Rohan piece on Tommy John surgery. I forgot I had it sitting in my bookmarks, so it’s a few weeks old. My bad. Anyway, one thing I learned: there are different Tommy John surgery methods, so different doctors perform the surgery in different ways. They all leave different size scars too. Who knew?

Friday: Here is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks are playing, plus there’s some college football and college basketball on as well. Talk about those game, the links, or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, and there’s a bunch of college football and basketball going on too. Have at it.

Sunday: This is the open thread for the last time. I’m posting it a little earlier than usual because the Jets are playing a pretty big game this afternoon (vs. Bills, 1pm ET on CBS). They’ll clinch a playoff spot with a win, from what I understand. You’ve got that game, the rest of the NFL slate, plus the Knicks, Islanders, and some college hoops.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday, folks. Sorry I didn’t have time to chat today. Had some other stuff on my plate. There hasn’t been a whole lot going on lately anyway, so there wasn’t much to chat about. Maybe next week. Here are the weekend links:

  • Baseball’s next market inefficiency? Health. My press box neighbor Joe Lemire wrote about injury prevention and the different ways teams are trying to gain a competitive advantage by keeping their best players on the field. They’re using real time biomechanical data to measure fatigue and are looking for ways to optimize recovery, among other things. Every player is different though. What works for one guy might not work for anyone else.
  • MLB currently has a contingent of players and officials in Cuba for a goodwill tour. Clayton Kershaw and Jose Abreu are among those on the trip, as is journeyman catcher Brayan Pena. Pena defected in 1999, and as Derrick Goold writes, this trip has allowed him to reunite with family, some of whom he hasn’t seen in 17 years. Abreu will also reunite with his son, who was still an infant when he defected in 2013. Good stuff.
  • I enjoyed Andy Martino’s overview of the Winter Meetings, both the general experience and this year’s event. I’m pretty lucky. Even with CBS, my focus is analysis and not so much breaking news. For the reporters who cover teams and are trying to dig up scoops, the Winter Meetings are pure chaos. They’re all friendly with each other but are in direct competition. It’s something to behold.
  • And finally, this is a brutal read from former NHL player Patrick O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan opened up about his abusive father — “He would throw punches. Not like he was hitting a small child — but like he was in a bar fight with a grown man,” he wrote — who beat him daily from ages 5-16. People can be just awful.

Friday: Here is tonight’s ope thread. The Rangers, Knicks, and Nets are all playing. There’s no college basketball on the schedule though. Talk about those games, any of the links or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Devils, Islanders, and Knicks are all in action, and there’s some college hoops on the schedule as well. Apparently the Jets are playing too. Have at it.

Sunday: For one last time, this is the open thread. You’ve got the afternoon football action plus the Eagles and Cardinals in the late game. The (hockey) Rangers, Devils, and Nets are all playing too. Enjoy.

Weekend Open Thread

At long last, the week is over. The Winter Meetings were somehow both boring and hectic, and I’m ready to leave that whole scene behind. Anyway, here are some links for the weekend:

  • Baseball is flush with cash right now. Just look at the spending this offseason. Deals worth $100M+ are commonplace and $200M+ deals are happening more and more often. Jared Diamond writes that the days of ever-increasing contracts may soon come to a halt because these monster television contracts will become a thing of the past as more people unplug and rid themselves of cable. Baseball will have to find a way to make up the lost revenue.
  • Scott Miller’s piece on Yasiel Puig is a must read. Puig has become more than a distraction, he’s become something of a pariah in the clubhouse, so much so that some say his teammates want him gone. There are a bunch of damning anonymous quotes — going anonymous for something like this is kinda gutless, if you ask me — and anecdotes. It’s not just showing up late to the ballpark and stuff like that. Puig’s seen as a real bad dude.
  • Remember Floyd Youmans? I don’t, but he pitched with the Expos and Phillies in the late-1980s. He was part of the trade that sent Gary Carter to the Mets. Youmans, now 51, had some addiction issues and was pretty much out of baseball by 1989. As Pedro Moura writes, Youmans now drives for Uber and desperately misses the game. “I can’t make this feeling go away. But it’s OK for me to feel that way, because I love the game. I’m not gonna go off the deep end,” he said.

Friday: Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Rangers and Devils are playing and that’s pretty much it. There’s no college hoops on the schedule tonight. Talk about those games or anything else.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Army-Navy game is on right now, plus all of the local hockey and basketball teams will be in action except the Devils. There’s a while lotta college basketball on too. Enjoy.

Sunday: This is the open thread for the final time this weekend. You’ve got the afternoon slate of football plus the Patriots and Texans as the late NFL game. The Devils and Islanders are playing (each other) and there’s some college basketball on as well. Have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

The Winter Meetings begin next week and my hunch right now is the Yankees will indeed do something in Nashville. Not necessarily anything major, but something. There’s been too much talk about not doing anything from Brian Cashman & Co. for me to think it’ll actually happen. Anyway, here are the weekend links:

  • I enjoyed David Laurila’s interview with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich, who discussed the challenges of building a team in baseball’s most extreme park environment. It’s been more than 20 years now and still no one seems particularly close to figuring out what kind of pitcher can consistently succeed in Coors Field. Pitches don’t move the same way they do at sea level because they react to the thin air differently.
  • Here’s a neat little article by Ryan McKenna on Jim Stevenson, the scout who drafted both Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, the 2015 Cy Young award winners. Stevenson was with the Astros when they took Keuchel in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, and he was with the Brewers when they drafted Arrieta out of junior college in the 26th round of the 2005 draft. (Arrieta didn’t sign and instead transferred to TCU.)
  • This is a few months old but it’s totally worth reading: Susan Dominus wrote about two sets of identical twins raised in Colombia. Due to a hospital error, two of the babies were switched at birth, and they were raised separately as sets of fraternal twins. They all found each other as adults, basically by chance. It’s an insane story. No other way to describe it.

Friday: This is your open thread for the evening. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are in action except the Rangers, plus there’s some college hoops on as well. Discuss those games, the links, or anything else here.

Saturday: Here’s the open thread again. The Islanders and Knicks are playing, plus you’ve got a ton of college football and basketball as well. Have at it.

Sunday: This is your open thread for the final time. You’ve got all the afternoon NFL action plus the late game (Colts at Steelers) later tonight. The Rangers, Devils, and Nets are playing as well, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Talk about any and all of that here.