They’re still my team, but boy oh boy were the 2013 Braves a joyless and unfun bunch. On the heels of the “policeman of the unwritten rules” stuff last month comes this from the New York Post. Seems that the reason Chipper Jones ceremonial first pitch last week was thrown out to the Braves mascot rather than an active player is because no active player would do it.
Why? Because Chipper declined to be a blindless homer when asked to handicap the series:
Evidently, Braves players were not happy Jones had gone on the radio earlier in the day with the team’s flagship station, 680 The Fan, and predicted the Dodgers would win the NLDS in four games. So no player volunteered to catch the pitch.
Former manager Bobby Cox threw out the ceremonial Game 2 first pitch to Tim Hudson.
For a bunch that claims to adhere to the strictest professionalism in the game you look pretty unprofessional childishly shunning a franchise icon because, like just about everyone else on the planet, he recognized that the Dodgers were pretty good.
And I guess now Chipper will get no extra credit for being right either. Oh well.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.