Doug Smith does not like bikini-clad women at the ballpark

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I’m not a big fan of big, garish entertainment at baseball games that distract from the action on the field. Give me the diamond, the sounds of the game, the smell of beer and grilling meat and maybe a little organ music and I’m good to go.

In light of that, why do I read Doug Smith’s grousing about the scene at the Marlins’ new ballpark and find myself siding with the swimming pools, DJ and bikini girls?

Not sure if was the bikini-clad women – plants by the franchise, obviously – prancing around or the costumed dancers up on the stage or the body-painting going on for the almost the duration of the game or the swimming pool but I saw baseball like I’ve never seen baseball before last night and you can have it.

Yeah, we made a trek to the new Marlins Stadium – a refurbished Orange Bowl – for a night among the people on Monday and it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life … It was, frankly, as far removed from baseball as you can imagine and I am old and a bit cranky and a bit of a traditionalist so if this is the new wave of the baseball stadium “experience” in order to attract fans, you can have it.

It must be serious if he felt obligated to say “you can have it” twice.

Eh, he’s right in the merits. I guess it’s a context thing for me, though. It’s Miami. It’s not like there was some old Tiger Stadium, Yankee Stadium or what have you that has been replaced by the glitz and silliness. It defines the place way more than a classic, dark-green seat and tinkling organ music ballpark ever would so, in its own way, it’s authentic.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.