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Must-click link: Australian writer’s first MLB encounter

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Simon Crerar, an Australian-born staff writer at BuzzFeed, put together this comical rundown of his first experience with Major League Baseball, which just officially opened its 2014 season with a two-game series between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Crerar mostly points out oddities that we’ve come to accept as very normal, very necessary parts of the game.

Some highlights from Crerar’s writeup …

  • “Instead of a big oval with all the action taking place in the centre, baseball is played on a weird diamond, with all the action taking place in one corner.”
  • “Everyone wears pyjamas. Fancy pyjamas, but still PJs.”
  • “Half the time the players don’t seem to know what’s happening and the coach has to explain the rules.”
  • “Incidentally, these guys wear GREAT leather belts.”
  • “The balls are either super cheap or the MLB is super rich. Balls go into the crowd non-stop and never come back.”

How he ends it: “Thanks for coming Down Under, Major League Baseball! You blew our minds.”

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.