Jonah Keri to write the definitive history of the Montreal Expos

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And now for some news as fantastic as it was inevitable: friend of HBT Jonah Keri, fresh of his bestselling success, The Extra 2%, just signed a deal to write the definitive history of the Montreal Expos.

The details are over at Jonah’s blog. The only slight bummer: his publisher has it slated to come out in 2014 to coincide with round number anniversaries of the Expos’ move to Washington and their magical but tragically-aborted run at the NL East title in 1994.* Perchance Jonah can persuade them to move it up a bit since it’s a topic people will — or at least should — be very interested in. If not, fine, we’ll wait.

The Expos are gone. Someday, sooner than we think, so too will be the people who helped define that historic — and historically bizarre — baseball franchise.  It makes me really happy that someone is going to capture it all for posterity, and that that someone is a person who loves and mourns the Expos as much as Jonah Keri does.

*Note: I presume that Jonah will not let his Expos fandom get in the way of the fact that, if the 1994 season had continued, the Atlanta Braves would have easily made up the six-game gap, overtaken the Expos and won the World Series that year. I mean, it’s just science.

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. 😉