This is normally a retrospective feature, not an anticipatory one, but we all know what’s going to happen tonight: a normal baseball game in which Strasburg will either pitch well or he won’t but in either case all of the magic pixie dust will be gone and the hard business of actually, you know, forging his major league baseball career will be in front of him.
But that’s tomorrow. As of today anything is possible, so let’s capture that irrational exuberance for posterity!
- Pirates’ outfielder Delwyn Young: “I really couldn’t care less, to be honest with you. I got
nothing to say, really. It’s just another pitcher . . . Hey, Mark Prior.”
- Carolyn Johnson Thomas: “I like everything I read about him. He’s got great potential, and I
hope that he’s with Washington for 20 years, as my dad was.” [BTW: Ms. Thomas’ dad was Walter Johnson. He pitched a little.]
- DangerNat of Nationals Inquisition: “After that first pitch tonight it is going to be
something to see thousands of Nats fans have a Strasgasm all at once.”
- Ken Burns: “This kid has a lot riding on his shoulders tomorrow night. It’s now
moved out of historical precedent and into kind of The Natural;
archetypal fiction in which we endow our baseball players with certain
superhuman capabilities that transcend the game and life itself.”
- Natasha Jasso: “Natstown is gonna be like church on Christmas and Easter; So many there– with so few who understand.”
Confession time: I want Strasburg to do well long-term because I love pitching and I want baseball in D.C. to be a success. But still, the hype is getting a bit much for me. When I woke up this morning I started thinking about how cool it would be if the Pirates came out and hung six runs on the kid as a little initiation to the big leagues.
Probably asking too much, sure, but this is baseball and all of the commotion is getting a bit too footbally for me.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.