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Some HBT commenting housekeeping

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Just two weeks ago I wrote a personal blog post about how, for all of the insanity, ugliness and poor taste of comments sections, they serve a useful purpose. Several useful purposes, actually.

There is a bit of community here among many of you, and I’m glad we can serve as a forum for that. As my landing on an unfortunate Buzzfeed list this morning shows — a lot of my own mistakes are caught by you guys and I’m glad when you point them out. You also challenge my thinking on any number of topics and I welcome that. This is HardballTalk, not Hardball Soliloquy. Interaction is important and it will continue. Comments aren’t going anywhere as long as it’s up to me.

But I gotta tell ya, a lot of you have been real jackasses lately. The crossing of racist, sexist and homophobic lines has increased lately. As has the violation of the more amorphous yet still important standard of simply not being obnoxious to one another. It’s entirely possible to disagree with someone else here without being a jerk. It’s a shame how many of you seem to have forgotten that.

As a result of this, we have carried out a few bannings over the past few days. A couple of them relatively regular commenters. There was no warning or notice to them as this is not a democracy and we can ban whoever we like. We just reached a tipping point with them. We will continue to keep an itchy ban finger for the time being because some people are making it unpleasant for the vast majority of people here who just want to talk about baseball and we won’t tolerate it.

That aside, our commenting rules are and will remain pretty permissive. We don’t shoot down comments or ban commenters simply for disagreeing with us. Or for being idiots. Or for using bad language. Or for being insensitive or controversial. It’s actually good when people argue or disagree about things or when others are taken out of their comfort zone. That’s when you learn things. And no one has the right to go through life without having their sensibilities offended from time to time. The last thing we want is for some phony level politeness, some hyper-orthodoxy or some brand of groupthink to rule the comments. Mix it up, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

But really people, clean it up a bit. Be civil to one another. Understand that what may wash in a thread under one of my posts may not wash for the other HBT writers and know that, if you act like a jackass, you’re going to lose your commenting privileges. As always, we won’t tolerate the following:

  • Racism;
  • Misogyny;
  • Homophobia or gay bashing;
  • Antisemitism;
  • Excessive personal attacks on other commenters.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about controversial topics. Or argue with people. But be adults about it.

Thanks.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.