What we're watching – King Felix vs. Wakefield

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– Actually, we’re probably not going to tune in, but surely many will
be watching Manny Ramirez’s return from a 50-game suspension tonight
against the Padres. The disgraced slugger went 3-for-10 with a homer
and three walks in five minor league games.

– Zack Greinke, Kevin Slowey and Tim Wakefield are all possibilities
to become the AL’s first 11-game winner tonight. Greinke has won two in
a row after going 0-2 with two no-decisions in his previous four
starts. He’ll get the White Sox, a team he’s 5-8 with a 4.20 ERA
against in his career. Slowey is coming off his worst start of the year
(5 ER in 3 IP vs. St. Louis). He’ll pitch against a Detroit club that
he beat with six innings of one-run ball back on May 12. He’s 3-0 with
a 4.75 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers. More on Wakefield
in a minute.

– Alfredo Figaro followed up a decent first start with a poor second
outing, so now the Tigers have decided to see if they can catch
lightning in a bottle with 23-year-old Lucas French, who will make his
first major league start against the Twins after going 4-4 with a 2.98
ERA, 71 H and 72/20 K/BB in 81 2/3 IP for Triple-A Toledo. French’s
stuff is below average, but he’s left-handed and throws strikes. If he
can get Twins hitters to offer at his curve, he might have some luck.

Game of the Night

Seattle vs. Boston – Pitchers don’t get a whole lot more different
than Felix Hernandez and Wakefield. Those two will face off as the
Mariners begin a three-game series in Boston. King Felix has been
dominant in his two career starts at Fenway, turning in one of his
three career shutouts and pitching six scoreless innings in the other
outing. He’s 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA in six starts against the Red Sox
overall. Wakefield carries a four-game winning streak and a 6-0 mark at
home this season into the start. He could really use that 11th win
tonight in order to strengthen his bid for making the All-Star team for
the first time in his career. Hernandez is already pretty close to a
lock for the squad.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.