As I lamented last week, the All-Star Game counts now. It shouldn’t given how much a of a circus it is from a purely competitive baseball standpoint, but it does count. And today is the tenth anniversary of the thing that led to this state of affairs: the ugly 2002 All-Star Game which ended in a tie when each side ran out of players.
Chris Jaffe has a remembrance of that over at The Hardball Times today. It just warms my heart to recall a game reaching the end of regulation play with only Vicente Padilla and Freddy Garcia available and hitters like Jose Hernandez and Tony Batista taking the key at bats. Star power, baby.
The thing about it: Bud Selig’s solution of making the All-Star Game count for home field advantage has done little to change the approach of the All-Star Game managers. Sure, there are now safeties in place to ensure that teams can reuse position players and hold pitchers in reserve, but the underlying dynamic which led to the trouble — managers trying to give everyone playing time and all the truly great players being showered and gone by the time the game reaches the late innings — still reigns.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.
They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.
As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.
Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.
The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.
Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.
The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.
In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: