Be careful where you step, scofflaws

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piniella_090818.jpgFirst it was the war on drugs. Then the war on terror. Now? Jaywalking, of course.

Lou Piniella was the latest to get nabbed, getting off with only a warning after being caught committing the unthinkable in downtown San Diego on Tuesday.

Sweet Lou was talking on his cell phone (presumably calling Closers-R-Us), and looking for a place to get his hair cut when he crossed against a red light, attracting the attention of an eagle-eyed motorcycle cop.

Piniella says he didn’t get any special treatment in avoiding a ticket, claiming that the officer didn’t recognize him. This seems unlikely, given his burgeoning rap career, but I digress.

Piniella is only the latest to run afoul of the law. Just last week, White Sox GM Kenny Williams was busted in Seattle, receiving a $56 ticket for his transgressions.

Last summer in the same city, then-Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez was chewed out by a cop for jaywalking, to the point where he was threatened with arrest.

(The best part of that incident is that the officer, not recognizing Ramirez, asked him if he had attended the game. Attended? Well, I guess that all depends on your definition of the word.)

It’s about time baseball people stopped acting as if they are above the law. This isn’t Italy, where the police will applaud and offer you a glass of wine if you manage to cross the street without being run over by a Vespa. Nor is it India, where … well, just watch this video and be amazed.

No, this is America, and we’re just not going to take it anymore. Anyone have George Mitchell’s number? Wonder what he’s up to.

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If you Twitter, and are a law-abiding citizen, you can follow me at @Bharks.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.