Some positivity for the non-contenders

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bluejays_090923.jpgIt’s so easy to get down this time of year. The weather is getting chilly, it’s not staying light out as late, and if your team isn’t in playoff contention – and in this dullest of September stretch runs, you pretty much know by now – the final days of the season can be quite a chore.

But it doesn’t have to be, because baseball is all about hope. Hope that a certain veteran might reach the obscure milestone that no one cares about but he. Hope that the late-season call-up will show you some flashes of greatness. Hope that if you’re not going to win this year, there’s always the next.

So to all you fans out there following an also-ran club, this one’s for you. A quick scan around the blogosphere reveals plenty of things for you to be positive about:

— In Milwaukee they may not have the playoffs to look forward to, but they’ll always have beer. And they really, really love their beer. [Miller Park Drunk]

— It’s celebration time in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have just clinched fourth place in the AL East. They should send a thank-you note to the Orioles. [The Tao of Stieb]

— In Chicago, Milton Bradley has apologized for the heap of misery he brought on his team and its fans. So what if the players learned about it by seeing the statement handed out to the media? What do you want from him, people? [Carrie Muskat via Twitter]

— Not sure who out there thinks Zack Greinke doesn’t deserve the Cy Young, but in Kansas City, they’re still stumping hard for him. [Ball Star]

— Rajai Davis has people downright giddy in Oakland. Now if they can just find some power. [Athletics Nation]

— If you can’t win in Cleveland, at least you can dominate the Eastern League. Nothing wrong with that, folks. [Waiting for Next Year]

— In Seattle, they’re marveling at Jose Lopez’s ability to hit at least 25 home runs and walk fewer than 25 times. It’s cool that guys like Joe DiMaggio and Albert Belle are also on the list. Not so cool that Jeff Francoeur and Marcus Thames are also on it. [U.S.S. Mariner]

— In New York, they’re celebrating that the Mets came up short in their quest to break the record for fewest home runs. That’s something, at least. [NYT Bats blog]

— And last but not least, they may not have much of a team in Cincinnati, but when it comes to goggles, no one tops their own Chris Sabo. [OMGReds]

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

Headgear
MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.

Brewers sign reliever Blaine Boyer

Blaine Boyer
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Right-hander Blaine Boyer, who spent last season with the Twins, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to spring training.

Boyer was also on a minor-league deal last spring when he snagged a spot in the Twins’ season-opening bullpen and he stayed there all year, posting a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings. His secondary numbers weren’t quite so impressive, particularly his managing just 33 strikeouts compared to 19 walks, but the 34-year-old journeyman is a decent middle relief option.

Boyer has a 4.22 career ERA, including a 2.91 ERA in 105 innings since returning from injuries in 2014.

The Padres have been shopping Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp
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Robert Murray of BaseballEssential.com reports that the Padres have tried to trade Matt Kemp.

Shocker given that he’s 31 and is owed $21.75 million over each of the next four seasons. Still, if the Padres eat some cash someone may bite. Kemp started slowly in 2015 but was solid in the second half. He finished with a line of .265/.312/.443, 23 home runs, and 100 RBI in 648 plate appearances. That last number is key because the once-fraglie Kemp has been healthy for two years now. Someone could use that level of production.

Just not at those prices.

The Braves and Fulton County are fighting over a Hank Aaron statue

FILE- In this Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, a statue of Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron stands outside Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves pulled perhaps the most surprising move of the year. They announced after months of secret talks with Cobb County leaders plans to move to a suburban stadium and leave downtown where they’ve played since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. The impending Braves’ departure aside, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed managed to keep the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons happy. He agreed for the city to cover part of the construction costs for a new retractable-roof stadium to replace the Georgia Dome downtown. Both new stadiums are projected to open in 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Associated Press
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Divorce is hard. It’s hard on the kids and hard on your own emotions. Then, of course, there’s the fighting over money. Eventually you sort that stuff out too, but at some point you’ll come across something that cannot be divided between you and for which visitation schedules simply aren’t suitable.

Maybe it’s the family photo album. Maybe it’s that 60-year-old cast iron skillet which you got at that estate sale and which is perfectly seasoned and, oh God, you can’t imagine making fried chicken in anything else YOU GOT THE HOUSE, JENNY, MY GOD I GET TO KEEP THE SKILLET!!!

Um. Sorry. Got carried away there for a second. Where was I? Oh yes. Maybe it’s that statue you and your ex both love. You know, that one of the guy who hit 755 home runs and who has served as the face of your franchise for over 60 years:

For about three hours Wednesday, it looked like the statue of baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron would be staying in Atlanta.

The agency that owns Turner Field proudly announced it holds documents showing “the people of Atlanta and Fulton County” own the bronze, and that a deal had been struck with the Braves to keep the statue at Turner Field.

Then came a statement from the Braves saying, in effect: nuh huh. The statue, the team said, should go wherever the Hammer wants it.

And with those dueling press statements, the fate over one of Atlanta’s treasured sports landmarks remained in limbo, just as it has been since the day the Braves announced plans in late 2013 to move from downtown to Cobb County after the 2016 season.

The latest: Hank Aaron says he wants no part of the dispute and that the club and the city should solve it themselves. Which is absolutely the right move. And, frankly, kind of crappy of the Braves to throw it in Aaron’s lap in the first place. They’re the ones who, figuratively speaking, broke up the marriage by messing around with that younger, richer suitor after all. Now they’re trying to make Aaron either be a bad guy to Braves fans who attend games after 2016 and don’t get to see the statue or the city of Atlanta who would have yet another piece of their baseball history transplanted to the burbs? Forget that.

If I were Aaron I’d propose that we saw the thing in half. Then we’d see who values it more. I heard that approach has worked before.