Debunking the four biggest myths about baseball

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Those of you who have followed our Baseball is Dying, You Guys series will know this stuff already, but if you haven’t, Allen Barra has an article up at The Atlantic rebutting those who seem to want to make a second career out declaring baseball dead.

The four myths he debunks: (1) That baseball isn’t as competitively balanced as football; (2) that baseball games are too long; (3) that baseball’s talent pool has become diluted; and (4) that baseball is declining in popularity.

Does baseball have competitive balance concerns? Sure. Could the pace of games be better? Absolutely. Do the best athletes flock to baseball the way they used to 50 years ago? Not really. Is baseball still The National Pastime? Of course not.

But as Barra points out — and as we have pointed out constantly around here for years now — baseball’s flaws are not anything close to the fatal level its detractors like to claim. And, when you actually measure baseball on its own terms and use apples-to-apples comparisons, many of those alleged flaws are revealed to be fallacies.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.