Whenever I see stuff like this I make this face. But I do think the writer — Max Parker, “The Game Guy” of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Community Voices section* — is, in fact, serious:
I received an email today that informed me of an outrageous and heinous error inMLB 2K11. Among complaints about the commentary and controls, the email from Drew, a Pittsburgh native, shed light on the following unthinkable blunder: “they allowed for one of the computer generated players I drafted onto the Pirates to walk out onto the field at PNC Park in a #21 jersey. NUMBER TWENTY-ONE! ON THE PIRATES! I’m sending it back to 2k Sports and demanding a refund for damages.”
That’s Roberto Clemente’s number, of course, which the Pirates have retired. And while the “refund for damages” comment is probably hyperbole, the writer does seem to be serious in asking that MLB 2K11 remove the ability for users to play with retired numbers on their players.
Which is crazy talk, of course. The point of retiring a number is so that Lastings Milledge or someone doesn’t wear it out on the field in front of Pirates fans and God and everyone. It’s not to keep me from being able to pretend that the character I created on a video game is the illegitimate grandson of Clemente, discovered playing ball on the streets of Carolina, Puerto Rico and secretly groomed in a private training facility in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, only to be revealed to the world during a fictitious Game 7 of the World Series where he hits the winning pinch hit home run off the illegitimate grandson of Whitey Ford, who happens to be wearing #16 for the Yankees.
You know, just by way of, um, example.
*An earlier version of this post omitted Mr. Parker’s name. Mr. Parker took issue with this on Twitter, complaining that I violated “Journalism 101” by not giving him proper credit. Apologies to Mr. Parker. In my defense — which I realize is not sufficient — I was merely following Courtesy 101, which would have me not call out people by name when they’re making a really ridiculous point. But seeing as though Max Parker would like everyone to know that he’s genuinely upset that video game characters are allowed to wear retired numbers, I hereby make the correction. Let no one say that Max Parker abides the notion of pretend baseball players wearing retired numbers. And let no one say that I don’t abide the concepts of “Journalism 101.”
Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.