From the Seattle Times comes word that from midnight to 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Japanese TV ran an Ichiro marathon. But it wasn’t a highlights package per se, it was video of each and every one of his 2,030 Major League hits. And it got pretty darn good ratings too. Not sure how such a thing would do here, but if they ran, say, every one of Wade Boggs’ or Rod Carew’s hits here I’d probably watch the whole damn show. I’d certainly tune it in before I’d watch Ryan Seacrest and the corpse of Dick Clark rockin’ in the new year.
The Times’ article, however, brings us some less-happy Ichiro news: he and his wife Yumiko Fukushima are on the outs. Well, that’s not actually “news” — indeed such a thing has not been reported anywhere by anyone — but based on what he was photographed wearing while taking BP in Japan last month, I can only conclude that he no longer has a woman around to tell him when he dresses like a fool:
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.