The players are not happy with the Braun decision

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At least the ones Buster Olney has spoken to.  He reports that he has spoken with dozens and dozens of ballplayers off the record in the past week, and that as many as 80-90% of them are upset at the Braun decision.  They don’t like that he challenged procedure as opposed to substance, and they think it’s bad for the testing program overall, which they sincerely want to work.

I understand that. And I think it’s a good thing for drug testing in baseball overall that there are people who are upset at it.  Like I said yesterday, systems are improved over time when blips and inefficiencies occur.  The Braun decision may seem unjust on some level, but its lasting legacy will not be about what it means for Braun, it will be about how, when faced with a problem in the system, the league and the union can work together to address it. Which I am certain they will here, either by clarifying the collection procedures to their people in the field or by changing the Joint Drug Agreement to conform to the practices those in the field have employed and to apply them going forward.

All of that said, complaints that the Braun decision somehow puts testing at risk is silly.  Braun walking on this charge is no more of a threat to the drug testing system than a guy getting off on a burglary charge because the cops didn’t get a proper search warrant is a threat to the criminal justice system. You may hate the result, but the remedy is easy: get it right next time or change the rules to make what happened in that instance acceptable.  It is not something that puts the entire regime in peril.

Finally, I’ll observe that these complaints all seem a little self-righteous to me.  No one who ever wins on a procedural argument themselves ever seems to have a problem with it.  And I suspect that the 80-90% of the players Olney spoke with here were under the gun themselves, they would not hesitate to make the same arguments Braun did if they or their legal advisors thought to do so.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.