Let’s watch 19-year-old Greg Maddux pitch and ask ourselves weird ethical questions

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So, this may be weird for a minute. But bear with me.

I started dating my now ex-wife when we were 17. Back when we were 17 I took a picture of her out at a park or wherever and it was a good picture. She looked lovely in it and, for a few years, I had the picture in a frame on my dresser. Took it with me to college and stuff and kept it on my desk. If someone asked about my girlfriend I’d show them the picture because she looked lovely and I wanted to brag a little. I think everyone has done that with a picture of a significant other at some point.

As I got older and we got married and things, other pictures replaced that one and it was forgotten for a time. Then when I was, I dunno, 35, I found it in a box and looked at it. Of course she still looked lovely in it, but dude, she was 17 in it and I was 35 and there is something weird and wrong about a 35-year-old dude getting all moon-eyed and swoony at a picture of a 17-year-old, even if you took it when you were 17 and you were still with her now. Just an odd ethical area in some weird ways, right?

I never really reconciled how to feel about that and, thankfully, we’re now divorced, I don’t have that picture anymore and I will never again have to ask myself that question because the women I meet from here on out and get moon-eyed and swoony over will at least be in their 30s.

What made me think of all of that was going over to SB Nation this morning and seeing video of a 19-year-old Greg Maddux pitching in a minor league game. Obviously watching your man-crush when he was a teenager doesn’t raise quite the same ethical questions as looking at your teenaged girlfriend, but I feel like it’s almost in the same area code. It certainly stirs feelings inside of me that I don’t know quite what to do with because, well, I’m really damn weird when it comes to Greg Maddux.

Anyway, watch it yourself. And keep an eye out for Rafael Palmeiro and Dante Bichette too. And no, you may not see pictures of my ex-wife when she was 17. That’s way worse for you than it is for me:

 

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.