Since my work here is being rationed, my only real chance to address you with what’s on my mind is in this column. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for you, there’s nothing on my mind right now. At least nothing that I care to share.
I’ve got something other than the Astros to lead off with!
Video killed the rodeo star. :-(
- Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan have discovered that Diamondbacks pitcher (and that sounds weird) Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under the name “Mason Sauders” over the past few years. (The Athletic sub. req., but non-subscribers can go here for an overview.) He even won a little over $25,000 in one team roping competition. (Well, presumably he has to share that with his teammate.) That’s a bit like Mickey Rivers telling everyone he was “Miguel Rivera,” but Rivers was reportedly just trying to avoid people he owed money.
- Just an idea: Maybe Kyler Murray could play baseball under the name “Kaiser Murrow”? No link, just a thought.
- OK, now we’ll talk about the Astros. Michael Baumann crystalizes a lot of things that are going on in sports (and society in general) by calling this a “golden age of brazen cheating.” He also ties in the Manchester City “Financial Fair Play” scandal (and a rugby scandal I was unaware of) in with the Astros. And that may be the last time I get to sneak a soccer story into MLB Bullets.
- Paul Sullivan writes that commissioner Rob Manfred’s “piece of metal” gaffe with stick with him for the rest of his life.
- If you want something a little more sympathetic to the commissioner (while still acknowledging his mistakes), David Waldstein traces how Manfred got into the mess he’s in. Waldstein argues that “lawyer” Manfred handled it all pretty well, but “salesman” Manfred was a disaster. This article also makes it clear why Manfred won’t resign or be fired—the owners all still have his back. That includes White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who opposed Manfred getting the job in the first place but is now a supporter.
- The Astros are still stealing signs! In this case, however, that means confiscating anti-Astros signs at Spring Training games.
- This is where the anti-Astros reaction has gone way over the line. Jeff Passan reports on how the Astros players have received death threats and other vile hate messages. Folks, it’s a game. Nothing anyone could do in this game justifies death threats to the players and their families. I know 99.9% of you aren’t doing this, but when the vitriol is ramped up to 11, the 0.1% gets the justification to do something awful. Certainly be critical. Be passionate. But don’t cross a line.
- And yes, whistleblower Mike Fiers is getting death threats too. That’s just as awful, so stop with all the “snitches get stitches” inferences, even if they are careful to never make that point explicitly. They are still encouraging that 0.1%
- Fortunately, Fiers got a huge round of applause in his Spring Training debut.
- Astros owner Jim Crane sent out a letter with an apology to Astros season ticket holders.
- For many years, fans throughout Canada have been able to watch Blue Jays games on MLB.tv, even though the entire nation is in the Blue Jays designated market area. That ends this year as Canadians will now have to subscribe to “Sportsnet NOW” at $20 a month to get Blue Jays games. (The Athletic sub. req., but here’s a summary for non-subscribers.)
- The Padres have signed infielder Brian Dozier to a minor-league deal.
- Tom Verducci reports on pitcher David Price’s arrival with the Dodgers and writes that Price is ready to put the bad mojo of Boston behind him.
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is back on the 60-day injured list. At some point, Pedroia is going to have to accept that it just isn’t going to happen. To which Pedroia would say “Who are you to say that it isn’t going to happen?” to which I respond, “fair point.”
- Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes thinks he can be ready to play on Opening Day after missing the entire 2019 season and most of 2018 as well.
- David Schoenfield has the most interesting non-roster invitee for all 30 MLB teams.
- R.J. Anderson has one prospect from each MLB team who could make an impact in 2020. Bold choice with Robel Garcia.
- Richard Justice has eleven players to watch in Spring Training.
- Jake Mailhot praises the pitching depth of the Diamondbacks. It’s not a fantasy article, but it could be useful if you’re in a deep league.
- Will Leitch and Mike Petriello take turns drafting MLB teams on how likely they are to win the World Series. So with your final pick, do you take the Orioles or the Tigers?
- If you’ve been following along these past few months, you likely remember that there has been a lawsuit over the ownership of the design of the Phillie Phanatic. So likely to put that controversy to rest, the Phillies have revealed a new look for the Phanatic this year. It’s—OK. It’s still recognizable as the Phanatic, so it’s not like they replaced him with someone in a Dick Sargent costume. But I prefer the original.
- And finally, can you handle a positive Astros story? Adam Greenberg (and as Cubs fans we know who that is) was in Astros camp this week and he had a big reunion with Astros manager Dusty Baker. Greenberg talks about what an important person Baker has been in his life and how Baker has helped him through the tough times, even after his playing career ended. As you no doubt remember, Baker was the Cubs manager the day Greenberg got hit by that pitch. Baker has stayed in touch with Greenberg ever since. (P.S.—This is why players will run through a wall for Baker. It’s not all about the Xs and Os.)
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster.