An extremely abbreviated Home Run Derby diary

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Given my view of it all,
you won’t be surprised to hear that I ended up only watching a fraction
of the Home Run Derby last night, but I’ll offer the following
observations:

— It took something like 20 minutes for the actual hitting to start
following the commencement of the broadcast. One would think that if
you’re hyping a Home Run Derby as much as ESPN was, you’d want to get
to some actual hitting eventually.

— Nelson Cruz was pretty impressive. Wasn’t expecting that.
Probably because I never get to see any Rangers games. I think I’ll
blame ESPN for that too.

— I get tired watching Prince Fielder simply walk around, so
watching him hack violently like he did last night was an exhausting
experience.

— Call me crazy, but I don’t know that I’d want my son to be one of
the kids who wipe down the sweaty ballplayers after they’re done
hitting. Very weird vibe.

— Berman might read CTB — or Deadspin — because in at least the parts I saw of it, he seemed to have ratcheted, um, back on the “back back backs” a good 50%

Greg Doyel of CBS Sports made a veiled accusation of steroid use by Brandon Inge yesterday. Wonder if he’s gonna take it back now that Inge didn’t hit a single dinger.

— The little comet trail thing they’re putting on the ball makes me
burn with an anger that is hotter than a thousand suns. Beyond stupid.
Who can’t follow the flight of a baseball? Who doesn’t have the
patience to see if the ball makes the stands? Half the time it doesn’t
even track the ball very well. Note to ESPN: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

— Adrian Gonzalez came to bat and Joe Buck made his way to the
broadcast desk. To review the bidding at that point, we had Berman,
Steve Phillips, Joe Buck, a contrived contest I can’t really get into,
and some lame, 1980s video game graphics on the ball. That’s when I
bailed. Congrats to Prince Fielder and everything, but my Ross MacDonald book was way, way more entertaining.

Look, I’ll fully admit that everyone looks like they’re having fun at
this thing. Especially all of the kids shagging flies in the outfield.
But it simply doesn’t work as televised entertainment. Perhaps if they
sped it up a bit, jacked the intensity somehow and made it into a
shorter and more direct contest the results would be better. Of course
that can’t happen because guys would get too tired and people wouldn’t
sit in the stands buying $8 beers for three hours.

All-Star Game tonight. You won’t be surprised to learn that I have a
million complaints about it too, but at least it’s baseball.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.