In Josh Prager's book (my favorite non-fiction baseball book) The Echoing Green - $4.99 for Kindle currently - he goes back to the Shot Heard 'Round The World in the 1951 NL playoff game, detailing a system the Giants had to deploy a guy in an office in centerfield of the Polo Grounds to use a buzzer to signal to the dugout what signs were coming in. Voila! Bobby Thomson's legendary home run. It's a really good book. You should read it.
But first, Spring Training updates (these are short):
I think in general, during the playoffs, I was trying to do exactly what I did during the regular season, but there were times offensively I wasn't where I needed to be.
Josh James is working on his full wind-up delivery, meaning the Astros are going to give him a chance to make the rotation. James:
Right now, I'm not feeling too comfortable out of the windup because I've been primarily in the stretch, especially being a reliever all year...so just some stuff to work out of the windup to get comfortable.
Dusty Baker is a big fan of rest:
I believe in rest days and I believe in telling guys when they have rest days. There's mental rest days, there's baseball rest days, there's days you say, 'Hey man, go out and have a good meal and a couple of drinks and let your hair down a little bit and you won't be off for another couple of weeks.
*Carlos Correa took the most forceful stand by an Astros player in response to the league's comments in response to the Astros' opening statements at the outset of Spring Training. You can read the full transcript here (not sure if it's paywalled. If it is, click here) Some highlights:
Like I said, I have no problem when people talk about what happened during the regular season in 2017. You know, whatever people have to say, we've got to take that on the chin. Guys, it was wrong. It was wrong and we've got to own that and we've got to take that.
On Cody Bellinger:
If you don't know the facts then you've got to shut the f*** up.
He's telling me we cheated them out of a championship? Game 7, he throws a ball away in the first inning and we scored two runs.
Cody Bellinger hit .143/.172/.393 with 17K:1BB in 29 PAs in the 2017 World Series while hitting in the clean-up spot (He hit 5th in Game 5). In 28 postseason games since the 2017 NLCS, Bellinger is hitting .141/.206/.263. And the more I think about this rant, I keep coming back to the takedown of Bellinger's reading comprehension skills. That's really funny.
*Correa said that Altuve would get mad when someone used the trash can when he was at the plate and that Altuve, Reddick, and Tony Kemp did not use the trash can. He admitted that he did. Over at SignStealingScandal, Tony Adams noted the following percentage of bangs:
*On the 2017 Yankees:
The Yankees (in the ALCS). They scored one run in the first game, one run in the second game, they scored one run in Game 6, and they scored no runs in Game 7. If you expect to win with three runs in four games, you're out of your mind.
On Kurt Suzuki:
Oh, they won the championship. And he's still talking about that? Enjoy your ring. Enjoy your teamates. Enjoy what you guys accomplished. Congratulations to you guys. You guys played better than us. That was it.
Honestly, I'm too old to get in the middle. I really don't associate myself with this kind of stuff. I just kind of go about my business and try to stay out of everything and get ready to play baseball. That's what it's about: playing baseball.
Suzuki walked that back awfully quickly.
*The Athletic's Jake Kaplan: Why Carlos Correa has come out swinging for the Astros.
*Verlander, on losing respect across baseball
Yeah, it bothers me...Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. I think facts are still coming out. Information is still coming out. I don't think this is something that's done now, even for us...People can speculate all they want. We dug our grave. We're in it. But I think emphatically, everybody made it clear that [wearing buzzers] wasn't true. I think we need to go out and prove that we're going to win. We can win. We have a great ballclub and we can do it the right way.
*Dusty Baker says MLB needs to step in and stop premeditated beanings of the Astros. Why is this coming up? Dodgers (of course it's the Dodgers) pitcher Ross Stripling, who was almost traded to the Angels, was asked about whether he would hit an Astros batter:
I thought about that if I was going to the Angels because they open in Houston, right. And I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' Ah...That's a good question. Would I do it? I would lean towards yes. In the right time and the right place.
I'm depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly-premeditated retaliation that I'm hearing about...I'm just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt. It's not good for the game. It's not good for kids to see it. I think both: stop the comments and also stop something before it happens.
I can see both sides here. Obviously the Astros don't want to get hit with the ball. Obviously the rest of the league is frustrated that no player actually got punished for the sign-stealing scheme. It's probably more frustrating for an opposing player to realize that they could get punished more severely in an act that they (rightly or wrongly) believe is an effort to police the games themselves, since MLB's message of punishment did not directly affect anyone actually banging a trash can or receiving a signal about what pitch was coming. It's an impossible situation. On a base, primal level, I get it.
*Brian T. Smith: The Astros can't move forward until they stop damaging themselves.
*Jeff Passan: This war of words between the Astros and everyone else isn't going to end soon. Passan:
There's more to come. There's always more with this Astros story that drips out with all the efficiency of a broken faucet. The coming days, weeks, months will teem with more details, explanations, facts. Manfred's report looks more and more like a Polaroid that needs to be shaken. The manifold characters all have their versions of the story to tell. There are reputations to be salvaged, careers to be saved, sides to be taken. This is just the beginning.
*Kenley Jansen says the sign-stealing scandal is worse than steroids and gambling. It's just behind Original Sin and slightly ahead of Murder. Jansen:
At least back then [in the steroid era], everyone had to be on steroids. It was a fair game.
Ooooh history is All The Way Revisioned now. This is fun.
*Kris Bryant agrees that the Astros' stealing signs was worse than steroids.
Why link to these statements? For when it comes out that perhaps their teams were stealing signs, as well.
*The New Yorker: Is stealing baseball signs really so bad? Bobby Valentine:
It's the same thought that I have when I'm on a highway, and I'm in the lane where everyone's going 82 mph, and then the guy in front of me gets pulled over. I think, Jeez, is he just unlucky? Everyone else was going 82.
*Rob Manfred defended his punishment of the Astros in an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech.
Manfred told Ravech that any discipline of the players likely would have resulted in grievances from the MLBPA, citing Luhnow's failure to communicate to the Astros' players the contents of a 2017 memo outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology. Manfred says that although he doesn't absolve the players in Houston, he believes that Luhnow and Hinch were obligated to inform them of the memo and enforce MLB's rules.
In other words, Manfred didn't want a union fight.
*Leeds United 1 Bristol City 0. With Fulham's loss, Leeds are three points clear of automatic promotion to the Premier League. There are 13 games left. FiveThirtyEight gives Leeds an 80% chance of promotion.
*A Musical Selection: