I mentioned a long time ago that I was participating in a simulation league for media guys. The game: Rob Neyer Baseball. It’s a historical league based on the Diamond Mind platform, and I am owner/general manager/manager of the Matewan Massacre. Other owners include Neyer himself, Jonah Keri, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli, Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods fame, FanGraphs’ Carson Cistulli and many others. It’s been a load of fun, but the season is almost over.
I’ve done well: I beat Mr. Neyer’s very own team to advance to the World Series, but
make no mistake about it: I’m an underdog against Jazayerli’s team, The Process, which finished the year with the best record in the league. He’s up 1-0 after a gem by his ace, Brett Saberhagen, and probably has a better top-to-bottom club than I do, but I have not yet given up.
The Massacre won its division with an 88-74 record, powered by an MVP season by Barry Bonds (.299/.421/.585 43 HR, 124 RBI in what turned out to be a really low-offense league). Don’t look at me that way; the Massacre does not have a morals clause in its player contracts. Heck, my backup shortstop is former Chicago Black Sox Swede Risberg for cryin’ out loud. My rotation — which surprisingly became a strength as the season wore on — is populated by several fat, alcoholic 1940s and 50s pitchers. The closest thing I have to model citizens on the team are Luis Sojo and Clint Hurdle, but they were bench warmers all year. We’re all about winning in Matewan.
Game 2 of the World Series will take place later today, with three games tomorrow and the final two on Saturday if necessary. I’ll let you know how my fellas do. If they win, Katie bar the door, because they know how to celebrate right-proper down in Matewan.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: