“Why don’t you think there are more major leaguers with red hair?”

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Earlier today, just before taping HBT Daily, Kay Adams and I were talking about redheads. You’ll have to ask her why the subject came up in the first place but know that it involved a bet, a wig and a lot of come-ons. I’m awfully glad I’m a dude.

Anyway, we discussed that thing about how, biologically speaking, redheads are selected against. Which was a hoax, by the way, but it’s the sort of thing that rattles around in one’s brain after one hears it. I mean, the thing about gingers having no soul is scientifically proven, so I sort of assumed the thing about them being selected against was too.

Anyway, maybe there is one place they really are selected against: the baseball diamond. At least that’s what Astros GM Jeff Luhnow wondered aloud to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, who investigated the matter.

Crasnick’s conclusions: there aren’t a lot of redheads in the world to begin with so there aren’t likely to be as many readheaded ballplayers. That said, there are a lot of notable redheaded ballplayers, and Crasnick names a great many of them. And either way, there are still some weird old scouts in baseball and in football who have a prejudice against redheads because, man, I have no idea but that’s pretty dumb.

At least we can all agree on the no-souls thing, yes?

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉