How about this: Damon and the Reds

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In light of this morning’s news, that moderately panicked sound you hear is Scott Boras working the phones, desperately trying to find someone that will pay Johnny Damon $2,000,001, thereby saying Boras the indignity of being totally, completely, utterly and publicly pwned by the Yankees.  Two candidates: The Reds and Tigers, according to Jerry Crasnick.

The Tigers laughed out loud when Heyman and Boras tried to prop them up as a stalking horse earlier this month. They don’t want any part of him.  But what about the Reds?

On paper it makes some sense. Cincinnati is stuck with, what, Chris Dickerson as their left fielder? And as was the case in Yankee Stadium, the cozy dimensions of Great American Ballpark may play to Mr. Damon’s strengths.

But can the Reds afford it?  They had to have Scott Rolen rejigger his contract in order to make 2010 work already, and that was before they added the Aroldis Chapman dollars.  What’s more, I don’t think Walt Jocketty is deluded about his club’s chance to compete this year (i.e. they don’t have much of one).  Adding Damon may clearly separate the Reds from the Pirates and rocket them past the Astros, but isn’t that fourth place really the top end here? I’ll even go with third if the Cubs or Brewers run into some bad luck, but I think we can all agree that even with Damon, the Reds aren’t going to be knocking on the door of the playoffs.  This is a team that is building to compete in 2011 or 2012, so why throw the money away on Damon now?

At any rate, Damon texted Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger the other day and told him that he’d have a team by Saturday. It’s Wednesday afternoon. Either Scott had better start dialing faster or else there’s going to be a news conference early next week in which the Yankees re-introduce their supremely humbled bargain basement outfielder.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.