T206

A man struggles with tobacco addiction. But it’s not what you think.

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I used to think that I had a baseball card problem.  I was a mere piker compared to Amar Shah, however, who shares his tale of collecting T206 tobacco cards over at ESPN.com today:

A few weeks later came the T206 tipping point. Tejal was working all day and I had the entire day to myself. As soon as she was out the door, I was jonesing to buy something. In a mood of ’90s nostalgia, I asked Zack behind the counter at the card shop if he had a box of ’92-93 Upper Deck basketball. I’d spend the $40, go home and perhaps pull a Shaq rookie …

… An hour later, I awaited the total from Zack. $2,570 for 19 T206 cards, including 16 Hall of Famers such as Eddie Collins and John McGraw. The Upper Deck box was thrown in for free. Irrational exuberance blocked any sense of rationality as I handed him the credit card. I had just spent two months of rent on 100-year-old artifacts of men I’d never seen play, but the only remorse was thinking I should have bought the Ty Cobb, too. I left the store in a state of delirium. When I got home I planned a clever cover-up, cleaning the house and doing the dreaded dishes. I hid my new treasures in a “Star Wars” tin.

Shah is developing a documentary on the baseball card industry. Based on what he says in this article about his collecting habits and the reactions to it by his wife Tejal, I presume he is likewise on his way to a big honkin’ divorce.  Not that their marriage hasn’t survived similar obsession on Amar’s part in the past (Warning: loud autoplay video there, so mute before clicking).

Note to Amar: if this is the Tejal Shah to whom you are married — and I think it is — you are making a grave, grave mistake by continually trying her patience my friend.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.