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And now a few words about comments at HBT

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A bit of housekeeping. This time about comments.

One thing I take a bit of pride in is that, for a large website, our comments are pretty good. Oh, sure, there’s some jackassery going on below the fold in every post — and if you simply don’t like comments on blogs on general principle, the HBT comments aren’t so different that they’re going to change your mind — but they’re pretty solid. They tend to be on topic. They’re often pretty funny. It ain’t the Algonquin Roundtable, but I’d put their quality up against what you see at some other major sports websites and would be pretty confident that HBT’s are a cut above.

When I woke up this morning and read the thread about the fan’s death at The Ballpark in Arlington, however, I was pretty disappointed to see that a commenter had left some pretty offensive stuff.  It’s gone now — I deleted his comments and banned the commenter — but I’m pretty angry about it all the same. This wasn’t some guy who surfed on and left a one-shot jerk comment. It was someone who has been around here a while.

Our commenting rules are pretty permissive. We don’t shoot down comments or ban commenters simply for being idiots. Or for using bad language. Or for being insensitive or controversial. It’s actually good when people argue or disagree about things or when others are taken out of their comfort zone. That’s when you learn things. And no one has the right to go through life without having their sensibilities offended from time to time. So the last thing I want is for some phony level politeness, some hyper-orthodoxy or some brand of groupthink to rule the comments. Mix it up, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

But there are some simple rules that should go without saying. I’ll say them anyway. I won’t tolerate the following:

  • Racism;
  • Misogyny;
  • Homophobia or gay bashing;
  • Antisemitism;
  • Excessive personal attacks on other commenters.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about religion, homosexuality or gender issues. It doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of other commenters. And an honest slip-up, a poor attempt at humor, sharp irony or a simple misunderstanding among commenters that touches on these things will be given latitude because we all make a mistake from time to time.

But I will not tolerate this stuff when it is clear, has no redeeming value and especially when it is infused with ire.  You’ve all been to school or have jobs. You know what flies in a social setting and what doesn’t. And if you ignore that — or simply can’t figure it out — your contributions aren’t really wanted around here anyway.

I don’t ban people often, but I will ban you for these sorts of transgressions. You don’t get three strikes. You don’t necessarily even get a warning. There is no formal appeals process. Behave yourselves, or be gone. It’s pretty simple.

Sincerely,

The Management

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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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.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

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.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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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:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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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.