Great Moments In Living with the NFL Hegemony

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A true story from late this morning:

Guy: Thank you for calling DirecTV, how can I help you?

Me: Hi, I just got the notice that my NFL Sunday Ticket package is going to renew in September unless I call to cancel. I’d like to cancel, please.

Guy: You currently have NFL Sunday Ticket, correct?

Me: Well, I had it last season. It was free as part of that offer. I don’t want to pay for it, though, so I’d like to cancel.

Guy: Would you be willing to keep NFL Sunday Ticket if it were offered at a lower price?

Me: No. I don’t watch football. Just, not at all. I had it free last year and didn’t use it once.

Guy: You don’t watch football?

Me: An occasional college game, but I don’t like the NFL.

Guy [somewhat incredulously]: You’re not an NFL fan? Really?

Me: Really.

Guy: I see you have the MLB Extra Innings package, though.

Me: Well, yes. That’s baseball. I like baseball. I don’t like football, though, so I don’t want the football package.

Guy: I’m sorry, I just meant that I see that you’re a sports fan, so . . . [tails off, realizing he’s straying from “the customer is always right” thing]

Me: Nah.

Guy: OK, I’ll have to transfer you to our cancellations department. I’ll just put a note on your account [quotes note as he’s typing] “Does. Not. Like. The. NFL.” [there is still a pretty strong note of incredulity in his voice].

To be fair, the representative to whom I spoke was quite pleasant and, after that brief exchange, my request was handled to my satisfaction, as was another unrelated request. I really do love DirecTV and have never had a thing to complain about with respect to their product or their customer service. I highly recommend them if you have the means and don’t have tall trees to you direct southwest.

Still: the notion that someone merely saying that they’re not a fan of professional football is surprising to people tickles me. You can tell it made him go off script for a second. I almost felt like it would’ve been easier to whip out the almost always inadvisable “don’t you know who I am?” thing. Because if he was aware of my football-hating bonafides, it woulda saved us some time.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.