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ESPN releases the first-half Sunday Night Baseball schedule

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The Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season has been released, and it breaks down thusly:

April 3:   San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN2)
April 10:  N.Y. Yankees at Boston
April 17:  Texas at N.Y. Yankees
April 24:  Cincinnati at St. Louis
May 1:  N.Y. Mets at Philadelphia
May 8:  Atlanta at Philadelphia
May 15:  Boston at N.Y. Yankees
May 22:  Chicago Cubs at Boston
May 29:  Cincinnati at Atlanta (ESPN2)
June 5-July 3 TBD
July 10: N.Y. Mets at San Francisco
July 17:  Boston at Tampa Bay

Six of 11 of the named games don’t include the Yankees or the Red Sox. I think this is actually an improvement over years past. Of course, there are, like, five games there in June in that “TBD” row which could more than uneven that out. UPDATE: Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones says the lack of O’s games on Sunday night is “lame az hell.”

Ah, who cares. MLB.tv is good and cheap. If you get sick of ESPN shoving the Yankees and Red Sox down your throat on Sundays you can watch anyone else the rest of the week to make up for it.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.