That 1PM start time is gonna mess up traffic in D.C.

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That 1PM start time for today’s Nats-Cards game continues to exact a heavy price from innocent victims in our nation’s capital:

Massive crowds are expected to descend on the Navy Yard area Wednesday for the first playoff game at Nationals Park, but the big problems could begin after the final out.

The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m., which means that tens of thousands of baseball fans will be flooding Metro and the roads to head home after it ends just as the evening commute gets underway.

That’s funny. I was told yesterday that tens of thousands would be unable to make it due to Major League Baseball’s draconian scheduling and employers’ Scrooge-like unwillingness to unchain workers to attend the game. Huh. In any event, thoughts and prayers to Washingtonians. Who have never had to deal with massive crowds descending on the city before.

OK, I’ll take my troll cap off for one minute and make an observation in all seriousness: as I mentioned after I went to Nats Park back in August, that Metro Station gets overrun when there are big crowds. While there will be more trains running when today’s game ends than there usually are after Nats games thanks to it being a weekday rush hour, it’s still likely to cause a mess.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

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Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.