Gibson homer

Just say no to any neutral site World Series games

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Ken Rosenthal has a good column up today about how baseball’s future is so bright it’s gotta wear shades. Business is booming and looks as though it will continue to boom.  Technology that allows fans to get even more immersed in the game is leading the way to the future, and how the time is now ripe for baseball to build on it.

He only has one misstep — and he admits that it’s a problematic idea — and that’s talking up Scott Boras’ idea of a big World Series Weekend event in which baseball basically stages a party around the kickoff of the World Series in which awards are given out, other fan events are held and — in most constructions of the idea — at least one or two World Series games are played. All at a neutral site.

Which, in my mind, makes the idea a deal breaker.  Neutral site scenarios — most of which are launched when the weather gets nippy in late October — are just awful.  And not just on the grounds of tradition and unfairness to whichever team is losing home games.

As the NFL has taught us, if you have a neutral site event, the certainty of time and place of that event will invite — hell, demand — corporate underwriting. Contest winners, rights partners, advertising partners, and junket junkies will gobble up all the tickets, freezing out season ticket holders for contending teams and/or sending them to stratospheric prices on the secondary market.  The only thing keeping that from happening now — at least en masse — is that no one knows where the games will be until three or four days before they begin. Schedule Game 1 and Game 2 of next year’s World Series for San Diego tomorrow, and you can bet that all of the hotel rooms will be booked by the end of the month.

I don’t care how much money it makes or how much it grows the game (or how much those who stand to make all that money argue that it will grow the game). Baseball should not, under any circumstances, seek to emulate the Super Bowl.  That game has become a giant, overhyped-corpse of an event and I don’t want baseball to have any part in that kind of thing. Under such a scenario, Kirk Gibson hits his homer in the 1988 World Series where? Miami?

I agree that making the awards into an event of some kind would be a good thing. And the All-Star Game could use some help, I think.  But let’s leave the games that count alone.  They’re fine just the way they are.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.