1932 poster

Comment of the Day: We live for baseball gossip!

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My half-baked “Metafans” idea from this morning is being better received than I thought it would.  I knew I should have (a) put it in a book proposal; (b) cashed an advance check; and (c) never written the book and than changed my identity.  Way easier than working for a living, ya know? Because, as everyone knows, books about esoteric baseball-related subjects bring forth tremendous advances.  I’d ask Rob Neyer about it, but he’s too busy swimming in piles of book cash to listen.

Anyway, I’ve received a couple of comments like this one from reader nyetjones:

[W]hat you call meta-fandom seems also integral to fandom itself. Maybe not the world series posters, baseball cards and strat-o-matic playing, but certainly things outside the game itself – e.g. DUI stories, contract disputes, hall-of-fame arguments – imbue the sport with meaning. I think the game in abstract, absent these external stories, would be way less enjoyable for a lot of people.

If you pay attention, it’s amazing how much of the coverage of sports could be construed as so much sewing circle gossip. It gets dressed in terms of “distractions” or “affecting team chemistry,” but ultimately it seems to point to a required interest in the players-as-people and not just baseball machines. How much of the commentary about Milton Bradley is strictly worried with how much his off-field troubles affect the games in which he plays, and how much is just a buzzing, tantalizing tale that gives him sone humanity, however flawed?

I think it’s a lot of the latter, and we’re not always that aware of it and/or willing to admit it.

I can tell you, based on the traffic numbers for this site and others for which I’ve written, the stuff surrounding the game is just as much if not more popular than the actual baseball content.  It’s not a representative sample, no, because people who read HBT are here willingly and presumably like the stuff we write about anyway.  But there are enough of you to convince me that — yeah — people are interested in the sewing circle stuff too.

Inded, it’s why I’ve always laughed when a commenter tries to insult me by calling me a gossip columnist. I don’t deny it for a second.  We just happen to disagree on the value of gossip, that’s all.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.