Four teams boycott breakfast over 'Cubs tax'

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Yesterday the Cactus League held its annual kickoff breakfast, but Jim Walsh of the Arizona Republic reports that the White Sox, Reds, Angels, and Dodgers boycotted the event to protest a proposed “Cubs tax” on league-wide ticket sales that would help build the Cubs a new spring training facility.
Angels spokesperson Tim Mead explained that “we just fundamentally disagree” and “feel it’s fundamentally wrong to implement a tax on loyal baseball fans.”
Dodgers vice president of communication issued a similar statement, explaining that “the Dodgers and White Sox simply feel it’s wrong to ask fans coming to Camelback Ranch to pay for another team’s new stadium with a surcharge on their tickets.”
State representative John McComish sponsored the legislation, which calls for a $1 surcharge to car-rental fees and an eight-percent surcharge to Cactus League tickets. Naturally he wasn’t happy with four teams boycotting the event, calling their behavior “what petulant children do.”
My feelings on this issue are mixed. On one hand I can see why other teams may not want to help finance $58 million worth of help for the Cubs. On the other hand, the notion of boycotting breakfast sounds anti-American and downright barbaric, and I can’t in good conscience support any cause that positions itself against bacon.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉