Getting a late start this morning. Please blame football.

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Because I still have a soft spot for my alma mater despite its many trespasses (and the fact that it’s freakin’ football) I stayed up late last night watching the Sugar Bowl. Go Bucks. A couple of observations:

  • Anyone who complains about baseball being a slow, draggy sport should just can it. This was a regulation football game that lasted nearly four hours. There were 11 minutes between the end of the National Anthem and the start of the game for cryin’ out loud. They took 10 minutes and two plays after the clock ran out in the third quarter. Baseball is simply better in every conceivable way than football, even in the playoffs, even with late starts and long games, and I just won’t argue the point.
  • I don’t care that everyone who made important plays for Ohio State in that game has been found to have violated NCAA rules. They’re dumb, hypocritical exploitative rules and I will not for one second slam college football players for not abiding by NCAA idiocy. Especially when that same NCAA idiocy allowed them to play anyway. We’re all a part of the same hypocrisy, Senator.
  • Ryan Mallett may have thrown the interception that effectively ended that game, but the dude was betrayed by his receivers all damn night. I feel bad for the guy. If he had one guy making even half the plays for him on offense, Arkansas wins that game easily.
  • I don’t care about the BCS title game or the NFL playoffs, so for all intents and purposes, I consider football season to be over now. Let’s have spring training start tomorrow, mmmkay?

OK, that’s it. I wrote this post before I went to bed last night so I could sleep in a bit and be all fresh for the Hall of Fame outrage I expect to muster later today. Talk to you in a few minutes, y’all.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.

 

There is a Tyler glut in baseball

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It’s a slow news morning — Miguel Montero is gone and everyone else is quiet — so you should go read Tyler Kepner’s latest column over at the New York Times. It’s, appropriately, about Tylers.

There are a lot of them in baseball now, Tyler notes. No Larrys and hardly any Eddies or Bobs. This obviously tracks the prevalence of the name Tyler in the population at large and the declines in Larrys, Eddies and Bobs. It’s the kind of thing I imagine we’ve all noticed from time to time, and it’s fun to do it in baseball. For his part, Kepner tries to make an all-Tyler All-Star team. The results are sort of sad.

There are always one or two Craigs floating around baseball from time to time, but not many more than that. We got a Hall of Famer recently, so that’s pretty nice. There will likely be fewer over time, as Craig — never even a top-30 name in popularity — is now near historic lows. I’m not complaining, though. I never once had to go by “Craig C.” in class to differentiate myself from other Craigs. Our biggest problem is being called Greg. We tend to let it pass. Craigs are used to it by now.