Great moments in provocation: the Giants take their trophy to San Jose

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Bruce Newman of the San Jose Mercury News has a column today about the Giants bringing their World Series trophy for display in San Jose.  According to Newman This Means Something. This is Important:

On Tuesday, the Giants brought their precious metal mantelpiece to San Jose to mark their territorial rights in the most public way possible. Standing 24 inches high and 11 inches in diameter, the trophy looked like what you might get if you asked Tiffany to design a gaudy fire hydrant … If there was any doubt that the Giants will dig in their heels to protect their territory, managing partner Bill Neukom made the trip down to the South Bay to put it to rest. “This county is the heart of our marketplace,” Neukom said. Then he got on the public address system and told the fans the trophy was really theirs.

I guess that means the Giants taking the trophy to Sacramento, Modesto, New York, Monterey and the couple dozen other places they’re going with it means that the Giants are the most expansionist, territory-claiming group of people since Napoleon.

Look, I’m totally sympathetic to the whole A’s-to-San Jose movement, and I know the Mercury-News has been strongly advocating for it for a long time.  But really: sometimes a goodwill tour is just a goodwill tour.  It’s not a shot across anyone’s bow.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉