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.
The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.
Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.
The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.
It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.
The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.