Jelisa Castrodale — who has the good sense to both (a) write for NBC; and (b) come from the same hometown as me — has a column up today about the Little League World Series. Specifically, about it being televised. And she wonders whether it’s too much:
I know that ESPN is increasing the production values — and their broadcast product — to get the biggest impact out of Williamsport’s Little stage. But, to me, it has the opposite effect. It makes the players seem more like characters and less like kids. It seems less spontaneous and more staged, less precious and more pressured, equal parts Baseball Tonight and Toddlers & Tiaras.
It’s not some lame “will someone please think of the children” rant, however. There’s a good joke in there about birth control pills. Definitely worth your time.
Personally, I find the coverage of the Little League World Series a bit distasteful. I don’t think it’s ruinous or anything — these kids get way more pressure from parents putting them into hyper-competitive situations than they do from whatever Harold Reynolds or whoever has taken his place in these broadcasts dishes out — but I could do without the closeups of kids crying and the creeping professionalization of the whole thing. It’s way too slick, and Jelisa’s reference to the kiddie beauty pageants isn’t too far off.
Eh, it’s not like I watch it anyway. I’m gonna watch “The Bad News Bears” a few times instead. The Walter Mathhau version.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.