It’s no secret that T.J. Simers grinds my gears. He probably likes that, as grinding people’s gears is his thing. But no amount of nonsense from a sportswriter will ever make me want to see harm befall him, so I was sad to see that Simers had a ministroke over the weekend. And happy to see that, a few days later, he’s back writing his column.
And it’s a good column. In it he notes that when the stroke hit he was in his Phoenix hotel room and called to Camelback Ranch to tell colleagues and Dodgers people that he wouldn’t be at the ballpark. Dodgers’ trainer Sue Falsone got on the phone with him and helped diagnose the stroke (which it appears Simers didn’t immediately recognize as such) and then dispatched assistant trainer Aaron Schumacher to his hotel to take him to the hospital. Great play, Dodgers.
Simers has since been treated and released and seems OK. We know he’s OK because in the column he takes his usual shots at Mike Scioscia, Joe Blanton, Dwight Howard, Hank Conger, Marriott Hotels, his wife and others. Which, even though a lot of us don’t care for his schtick, is good to see. I mean, if Simers came out with some “this brush with mortality has made me rethink my approach; henceforth I shall be nicer to sports figures” thing it would be seriously time to worry. And frankly, I don’t think I’d ever read Simers again if he did that. Rage against the dying of the light and such. Be yourself until the end. That’s the only way to really be.
Anyway: good to see he’s OK. Get will soon, T.J. I need you to write some totally unfair, cheap shot column about Adrain Gonzalez or Zack Greinke or someone so I can criticize it. That’s how this is all supposed to work.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.