Craig Calcaterra

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Wanna buy a jar of game-used dirt?

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I’m on record as saying that a lot of memorabilia is lame and that autograph collecting is weird. I realize people have varying opinions about this, but in my mind it’s the memories which last forever. The totems seem less important to me.

There are degrees to this, however. And after seeing what MLB is selling, I will never criticize your game-used jersey or autographed ball ever again. What are they auctioning? Dirt. Like, actual infield dirt. For $25 a pop. It comes in a jar. It’s “authenticated” too because the last thing you want is fake dirt.

“Wow, dad! Is that REAL dirt from the 2009 All-Star Game?”

“Yes, son. It sure is!”

“Were you there?!”

“No, son. I watched it on television. Then, seven years later, I purchased this jar of dirt from Major League Baseball.”

“You’re my hero, dad!”

[hugs his father forever]

Chris Sale won’t make his Cactus League debut until March 19

Chris Sale
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Scott Merkin reports that White Sox pitcher Chris Sale won’t make his Cactus League debut until March 19. There is nothing wrong with him — Sale is perfectly healthy — but the White Sox are wanting to keep from working him too hard. He’ll throw simulated games and bullpen sessions over the next couple weeks rather than appear in game action.

I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw more of this as time goes on. While teams are using more sophisticated means of monitoring and limiting workloads than pure innings limits and pitch counts, it’s still the case, I suspect, that the less work the better, at least early on.

All of which leads into a discussion of why spring training is as long as it is and why there are as many scheduled games as there are. Long ago spring training used to be far more informal — working out as opposed to properly-scheduled league action — but as spring training became more of a tourist draw it became more of a business and now there are a lot of financial reasons for the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues to schedule as many games as possible.

I can’t see that changing much, but if the consensus of thought in Major League Baseball settles on the idea that too rigorous a spring training schedule is a bad thing, I wonder what happens?

The new protective pitching helmet is not going to catch on

Headgear
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There have been several different attempts at providing protective headgear for pitchers. They’re often mocked for looking unconventional, but to the extent they have not been adopted it’s not because of aesthetics. It’s because they interfere with a pitcher’s windup or otherwise throws them off of their mindset or delivery.

It sounds like the latest version — which we talked about a couple of weeks ago — is likely to face the same fate. Ervin Santana has been trying it and he said that it interferes with vision:

“The visor is pointing down too much. When you do the windup and finish the pitch, you can barely see home plate . . .[other Twins pitchers] told me the same thing. They can barely see home plate during the windup.”

Pitchers will likely eagerly accept greater head protection at some point, but not at the cost of their ability to go about their business on the mound.