Mike Matheny

Cardinals manager and former catcher Mike Matheny supports a ban on home plate collisions

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Earlier, D.J. Short informed us that Major League Baseball is considering banning collisions at home plate in an effort to better protect catchers. There have been quite a few incidents that have been the impetus of the call for change, most notably when Buster Posey and Scott Cousins collided on May 25, 2011. Posey was hurt badly, as he suffered a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments. Most recently, Tigers catcher Alex Avila was bowled over at home plate by fellow catcher David Ross in Game 5 of the ALCS. Avila didn’t suffer a concussion, but there was concern since Avila was only a couple months separated from a previous concussion.

Another motivating factor is the mess the NFL finds itself in, with many retired players suffering from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL has been the target of many lawsuits as a result. Back in August, the NFL settled with about 18,000 retired players for a total of $765 million. Major League Baseball, seeing this, wants no part of that.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is one of a growing number of former Major Leaguers to support a ban on home plate collisions. Matheny caught for the Cardinals, Brewers, Blue Jays, and Giants over his 13-year Major League career and he was forced into retirement after suffering a concussion in 2007. Via Derrick Goold, here’s what Matheny had to say about the situation:

“I do believe that this game will get to the point where there will no longer be a collision at the plate, ” Matheny said during spring training. “And I am 100 percent in support of that. … Can this game survive without that play? I say absolutely.

“Why doesn’t it turn into every other base?” Matheny continued. “It’s a tag play. You get in position to make a tag like a third baseman. No one is going to (level) a third baseman. … I’d love to hear the rebuttal. What I personally witnessed is enough to change my mind. It took me a little longer to get to the realization of risk we’re putting these guys in.”

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.