You're not alone: the players are fed up with the umps too

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This is cool: the MLBPA is trying to organize a meeting between the players, the umps and the Commissioner’s Office to discuss the state of umpiring:

What the players would like to address, two player representatives said,
is the growing concern among players about poor communication with
umpires and what players see as a failure of accountability and
transparency in the grading and evaluation of umpires. Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler,
the team’s player rep, said that because disciplinary action of umps
isn’t made public, a distrust often exists among some players . . .

. . . It’d be nice if they were rated and those who didn’t pass, they get a week vacation, they get sent down,” said Jimmy Rollins,
the Phillies’ player rep. “It’s not that they’re trying to be bad. Some
players just can’t make it; some umpires just can’t make it. That’s
just the way it is. As long as they don’t have to answer to anybody and
they have that job security, that pressure of having to be good to stay
here — they don’t have to worry about that.”

This is so manifestly reasonable that you know damn well it will never happen.  The umpires believe that there’s nothing wrong and how dare they be questioned. The Commissioner’s Office has shown time and again that they have no interest whatsoever in making sure the right calls are made, that umpires are appropriately disciplined or that, when they are, anyone knows about it so as to instill confidence in their supervision. Having some sort of sit-down is a great idea by the union. So I fully expect it to go nowhere.

Beyond the idea of the meeting, by all means, read the rest of the story. Amy Nelson of ESPN got Jimmy Rollins to say an awful lot about the state of umpire-player relations these days, and it’s great stuff. Rollins pretty much nails the state-of-play with respect to the umpires’ increasingly hostile demeanor towards players and managers. 

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.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.