Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa turns to Kickstarter for new phone-based baseball sim

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At least, it sounds like it will be a sim.

Tony La Russa’s Baseball with Fans” is the concept being pitched by Don Daglow, whose design credits include Intellivision World Series Baseball and Earl Weaver Baseball from the 1980’s, the Tony La Russa Baseball series from the 1990’s and the RPG Neverwinter Nights in the 2000’s.

The game is being planned for the iOS and Android platforms. And here’s the pitch:

A new kind of Baseball game that lets you challenge your friends to see who really knows how to handle those tough calls in the dugout.

An interface and design created “from the ground up” just for touchscreens, not re-purposed from existing mouse or console systems.

On-field play that’s based on a physics-driven 3D engine, but displayed in a way that makes the action easy to follow on a smartphone screen.

A single-player option that lets you prove your managerial prowess by challenging Tony La Russa, with AI that Tony himself designed.

A game that kids and casual baseball fans can play and enjoy, but that offers depth and subtlety for sophisticated Baseball experts.

Stat and roster displays designed for fans, not CPA’s, with more detailed data a tap away.

A game that includes links to exclusive video coaching sessions where Tony shares his philosophy and experience from over 30 years as a big league manager.

So, it’s a game for everybody that is going to appeal to, well, who exactly? Will there be any touchscreen bat-swinging at all? A modern-day Earl Weaver Baseball would be neat, but that doesn’t seem likely. A lightweight OOTP hardly seems appealing when the real thing has gone mobile. It’s being marketed to families, but it has a 68-year-old curmudgeon on the “cover.” And there’s a little shot at any statheads who may want to try it.

Still, while skepticism seems warranted, it does have a baseball-design legend behind it. It will be interesting to see what Daglow comes up with if the prospect is funded.

As things stand now, there’s still a ways to go. The Kickstarter, which was posted earlier this afternoon, has received $1,180 in pledges toward a $249,000 goal at the time of this writing.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.