Is baseball an inherently conservative sport?

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The Daily Caller spoke with a bunch of conservative writers who identify themselves as serious baseball fans and asked them “what draws the conservative mind to the sport.”

Among the responders were Fred Schwarz, Daniel Foster and Rich Lowry of National review, Charles Krauthammer and they threw in some older quotes from George Will for spice. The upshot: baseball is slow, it doesn’t change much and, according to Schwarz anyway, “it has
more of a laws-and-not-men vibe, in the sense that penalties or fouls
or violations called by officials play a much smaller role in baseball
than they do in football, basketball, or hockey.”

Not sure I buy that last one inasmuch as every single pitch in baseball entails a judgment call that is subjective in practice, even if it isn’t in theory.  But yeah, I’ve heard all of these things before as I’m sure some of the rest of you have too.

Here’s my thing on baseball and politics: it’s an almost total escape from that stuff.  Sure, there are some political considerations that go into how you feel about labor issues, finances and maybe even PEDs, but as far as the game itself is concerned, politics is almost wholly irrelevant, at least compared to almost any other walk of life.

It’s anecdotal, but here’s an example: While I greatly exaggerate my flamin’ pink liberalness for comedic effect at times, I’m definitely a lefty on most issues. It’s just how I roll. The Baseball Crank, Dan McLaughlin, is about the staunchest conservative who has ever crossed my path in the baseball world. We both get political on Twitter from time to time (he has a far more professional interest in it than I do, however) and I dare say we disagree about 95% of the time when it comes to politics and policy and stuff. Add this to the mix: he’s a Mets fan.

But he’s a baseball fan and I’m a baseball fan. He’s also a baseball analyst whose analysis I agree with approximately 95% of the time. I’ve never met him in person, but I am certain that if he and I went to a ballgame together we’d have a hell of a time. At least if we made a rule not to talk about mosque location theory, tax policy, gay marriage and stuff like that.

Which is to say that I don’t think baseball lends itself to the conservative disposition or the liberal disposition any more so than it does the other. To the extent anyone thinks it does, they’re likely the kind of person who strains to see the political in everything, and those people are freakin’ nuts to begin with.

Like the man said: “it’s our game. The American, Asian and increasingly European game.”  Well, he didn’t say that, actually, but he would today because, while partisans of every stripe like to claim that they’re truly speaking for the masses, baseball is the biggest damn tent there is.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.