Interleague play begins again tonight. Feel the excitement?
Nah, me neither. Don’t get me wrong: I was against interleague play when it was first proposed because I am a scared old man who fears change, but after it got started I got used to it rather quickly. I even began to enjoy some aspects of it. I’m not gonna lie to you: Mets-Yankees is kinda neat, as is the Cubs-White Sox, Angels-Dodgers and other geographic rivalries. I’ve even gotten into the Indians-Reds thing (though I wish they’d split the difference in travel time and play the games here in Columbus).
But like so many people — players included — I really wish they’d find a way to stick to those rivalry games and spare us series of the Rays-Astros variety, which outweigh those attendance-driving marquee matchups. I’d rather see more games between teams competing for playoff spots in their own leagues, thank you very much. The unbalanced schedule already means that some teams fighting for the postseason face a harder road than others. Interleague play exacerbates that. And leads to dumb two-game series. And makes people focus too much on league inequality and do a bunch of other things that, again, because I am old and fear change, I don’t particularly like.
But it’s not going anywhere. It has proven to be financially successful and does draw some people into the game who wouldn’t otherwise watch it (baseball isn’t dumb; they know people like me aren’t going anywhere). We all like to pretend that baseball is a public trust or something, with its mission being to make us all warm and happy, but it’s a business just like any other business, and interleague play makes good business sense.
Still, interleague play doesn’t start until tonight, and I’m already tired of it. So how about this one, tiny suggestion: give it a two-year break so as to restore some of the novelty of it. Take those two years and see whether we’re scheduling out interleague play optimally or to see how else we can improve it. I can’t help but think that there’s a better way to do this whole thing.
A way that doesn’t make the whole affair both unfair and yawn-inducing.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.