Let's take a short break from interleague play

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Interleague_Logo.pngInterleague 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.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.