Our sister blog — a plucky little outfit called ProFootballTalk, which until this morning I had thought was covering English Premier League soccer or something — is hearing that the NFL may schedule an 18th Sunday night football game this year. The baseball implication of this is that it would make it very likely that said game would go head-to-head against the World Series, which the NFL had previously avoided. PFT is giddy about it, and speculates that if such a thing comes to pass Bud Selig would moan and complain not unlike he did about the Donovan McNabb deal on Opening Day:
Besides, if Selig was prompted to say “goodness
gracious” regarding the trade of Donovan McNabb on the day that the baseball season started, we have a
feeling that his words will be slightly more colorful as it relates to
the possible infringement on the season’s climax.
Which I hope he doesn’t, because that business with the McNabb trade was totally bush league. Bud’s the Commissioner of Baseball. If anyone should pretend that the lesser sports don’t exist it’s him. Yes, a competing game — especially one involving marquee teams — would take a monster bite out of World Series ratings,* but let FOX and MLB officials who aren’t supposed to be the public face of the game worry about that. By complaining about competing events like he did with the McNabb stuff he looks painfully insecure and diminishes the sport that would, were the world not completely mad, rule the roost.
But the world is mad, football is more popular, generally speaking, and there’s no sense in moaning about it. For Bud to get angry about what football does would be like the Queen of England deciding not to preside over the opening of Parliament because, man, those Americans are more influential than the little old U.K. is. In other words: have some freakin’ pride.
Besides, when the NFL starts ripping itself to shreds in labor unrest the following year baseball is going to have a wide open field anyway.
*For some perspective on the ratings, Game 4 of the last year’s World Series — the Sunday night game against which a football game could have competed but didn’t — broke all kinds of recent ratings records for the Fall Classic, posting a 13.2 rating and a 22 share. Random Sunday Night Football ratings last year grabbed ratings in the 9.3-9.4 neighborhood and got a 15 share. I suppose if the Yankees meet the Phillies again baseball could win the night, but if you get Colorado vs. Minnesota the ballgame is gonna get murdered.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.