So, I saw 3 Spring Training games in the Cactus League in the last week. They used the 20-second pitch clock; none of the pitchers appeared to have suffered any physical or psychic damage. And, it would appear – based obviously an a VERY small sample – that it does speed up the game a bit. Here is one datum:
- In a game that encompassed 8.5 innings, there was a total of 17 runs, 23 hits, 2 errors, 4 batters hit by pitches and a couple of walks i.e. lots of base runners. In addition, there were two mid-inning pitching changes.
- That game took 3 hours and 20 minutes to play.
The pitch clock is turned off when there are runners on base. However, I think that part of the value of the clock is that it gets pitchers in the rhythm of getting the ball back from the catcher and getting ready to do something with it other than holding it in the glove while taking a stroll around the mound. When the clock was in use, many was the time the pitcher began his wind-up with about 10 seconds left on the clock.
In another game we saw, the final score was 1-0. There was a total of 7 hits in the game with no errors and only 1 base on balls. That game took 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Granted, this is Spring Training and not the World Series; the pressure is far less than it will be once the regular season is underway. Nevertheless, I think the “imposition” of the pitch clock is not nearly the end of Western Civilization as we know it – – despite what some of the players may say.
Obviously, the baseball news over the time I have been gone was the ending of the Bryce Harper soap opera. Our long national nightmare is over; we can go to sleep now knowing where Harper will ply his trade for the next 13 years. That venue will be Philadelphia where I am not so sure things will be all peaches and cream between now and 2032 when the deal expires. Just remember that Philly fans got on Mike Schmidt’s case enough that he unloaded on a reporter in another National League city calling the Philly fans a “mob scene” and worse. The reaction was so strong that he needed to wear a wig and sunglasses on the field in batting practice when the team came home.
Mike Schmidt was the best third baseman in the history of baseball; he had led the Phillies to a World Championship and to another World Series. But Schmidt was not beloved in Philly because he was not a “blue collar guy”; he was aloof/cerebral/detached.
- Memo to Bryce Harper: This is what you signed onto with no opt out clause in your 13-year contract. I hope I am wrong, but I think you are going to experience a totally different relationship with the fans in Philly from what you are used to with the fans in DC. Mazel tov…
That signing presumably puts an end to the Phillies’ dealing in this off-season. Prior to this signing, the Phillies traded for Jean Segura (from the Mariners) and for JT Realmuto (from the Marlins) and signed free agents David Robertson and Andrew McCutcheon. They were indeed busy over the winter.
Personally, the two best moves in the MLB offseason to my mind were:
- Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals have needed a top-shelf bat in the middle of their order for a couple of years now and Goldschmidt is just that.
- Rockies sign Nolan Arenado to an 8-year contract extension for a total of $260M.
There was a cryptic/incomplete story coming out of Montreal over the weekend saying that the Montreal Alouettes had released QB, Johnny Manziel. Given the fact that Manziel’s stats last year were hardly eye-popping (106 for 165 for 1290 yards with 5 TDs and 7 INTs), his release is hardly shocking. However, there was a twist to the news release:
- The CFL has said it will not register any contract between Manziel and another CFL team; that means Manziel is banned from the CFL.
So, here is what the Alouettes’ GM had to say about this:
“We are disappointed by this turn of events. Johnny was provided a great deal of support by our organization, in collaboration with the CFL, but he has been unable to abide by the terms of his agreement. We worked with the league and presented alternatives to Johnny, who was unwilling to proceed.”
Not knowing anything about the “terms of his agreement” with the CFL, it is impossible to do anything other than speculate about where the “violations” in the terms arose. I prefer not to get into the “guessing”/”speculating” business here so I will simply note that Manziel’s performance and personal conduct made him persona non grata in the NFL; now he has been kicked out of the CFL; there are probably some AAF teams that might give him a look (the one in San Antonio is close to where he played college football) and the XFL 2.0 will come into existence next Spring. The trend here is not his friend…
Speaking of troubled souls, Cowboys’ DE, Randy Gregory, has been suspended again – – this time for an indefinite period. It is his 4th suspension since coming into the NFL in 2105. Once again, the suspension is due to a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy; the last suspension was for 1 year; this suspension is for an indefinite period. Gregory has been in the NFL for 4 seasons; in those 4 seasons he has only appeared in 28 games. His problems have not been injuries.
Finally, this comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times tells me all I need to know about the situation involving Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers:
“Disgruntled Antonio Brown and the Steelers have agreed to part company.
“In other words, AB’s gone from wide receiver to split end.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………