Twitter went a little haywire last night, just as there were nine or ten ballgames in progress. The fact that it absolutely drove me and a bunch of other people nuts was kind of surprising to me. I’ve been on Twitter less than two years. Surely I can enjoy an evening of baseball without hearing what a few hundred other people are saying about it in real time, right?
Well, sure I can. I survived last night. But it wasn’t easy, and it brought home just how integrated Twitter, blogs, real-time box scores and all of that are to my baseball watching and writing life. And, as more people plug in, it will become a part of their lives too.
Jason Fry has a great post up about that today, and about how sports lend themselves so comfortably and fully to social media and the Internet in general. In making his argument, he touches somewhat on a lot of the things I’ve been saying for a few months now about how the next-day story of a game and the weekly or semi-weekly column explaining What’s Goin On In Sports is becoming obsolete. Indeed, Jason notes that that stuff is increasingly unnecessary and probably inorganic to the nature of sports to begin with:
Sports is news, but most of it isn’t news the way a plane crash or a scientific discovery is news. I know the Mets are playing the Marlins tonight and one of the two teams will win, even though I have no idea which team it will be. Previously, accounts of games generally emerged only when all was said and done: We got a game story or a highlights package. But this isn’t how we watch sports – we do that in real time, constructing narratives as we go. Each twist and turn is good or bad, and we like to guess at how things will turn out, note potential turning points, and gloat, celebrate, commiserate or argue along the way. Twitter is a perfect fit for this: Now, beat writers can note significant plays, provide historical context, analyze decisions and so on long before their gamers are filed, and fans can talk to them and to each other as the game winds its way to a conclusion.
There’s much more to it, so click through. And if you’re interested in these topics, bookmark Jason’s page. He has gold like this quite frequently.
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.