Craig Calcaterra

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, April 4, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

What’s on Tap: Previewing Friday’s action

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Call this a crazy, off-the-wall prediction, but I think number 42 is really gonna come up big tonight. Indeed, I guarantee you that number 42 will get the win AND drive in the decisive runs in EVERY SINGLE GAME.

The most notable game where number 42 will play a part, of course, will be the Dodgers-Giants tilt. Notable for the dignitaries present, the history of Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers and the fact that the game will be on national TV, but also notable for the matchup. Once again Madison Bumgarner will face off against Clayton Kershaw. It’s never really become Juan Marichal-Sandy Koufax, but it’s about as good as we have in terms of pitcher/team rivalries these days.

Kershaw is the better pitcher overall, but Bumgarner has had the edge head-to-head. Last time out he held the Dodgers to one run on six hits over six innings while walking one and striking out eight. For his part, Kershaw pitched an eight-inning no-decision but allowed a home run to Bumgarner as the Dodgers won in extra innings. Overall Bumgarner is 4-2 in head-to-head matchups while Kershaw is 2-4, but Kershaw has the lower ERA and WHIP. Bumgarner gets more help and, of course, he helps himself.

The other matchups:

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 2:20 PM EDT, Wrigley Field;

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park;

Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns) @ New York Yankees (Luis Severino), 7:05 PM EDT Yankee Stadium;

Washington Nationals (Joe Ross) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park;

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen), 7:10 PM EDT, Marlins Park;

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 7:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field;

New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) @ Cleveland Indians (Cody Anderson), 7:10 PM EDT , Progressive Field;

Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey) @ Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello), 7:10 PM EDT, Fenway Park;

Baltimore Orioles (Vance Worley) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington;

Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey) @ Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel), 8:10 PM EDT, Minute Maid Park;

Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Richards) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 8:10 PM EDT, Target Field;

Cincinnati Reds (Tim Melville) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 8:15 PM EDT, Busch Stadium;

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill), 10:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum;

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium;

Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke) @ San Diego Padres (James Shields), 10:40 PM EDT, Petco Park.

The NBA approves ads on jerseys. There’s no reason MLB won’t do this one day.

NASCAR driver Chase Elliott speaks at a press conference after testing at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 (Nick Gonzales/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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Over at Pro Basketball Talk Dan Feldman talks about the NBA’s decision to start allowing advertisements on jerseys. It’s a pilot-program and will only allow for a shoulder patch for the first two years, but it’s the camel’s nose under the tent. There will be more eventually. And people will get used to it. People have gotten used to copious amounts of advertising in sports, from sponsored arenas, sponsored courts and fields, sponsored time outs, sponsored touchdowns, goals and grand slams. In soccer and on special occasions in other sports there is already a ton of advertising. NASCAR has made sponsorship an essential part of its sport as has soccer.

It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put Coca-Cola ads on the sleeves, but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

In some ways it’ll be clarifying, even if it’s annoying. Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

In the meantime, I’d still watch baseball. The game wouldn’t change. I’d consume it just like I watch Marvel movies, drink Kentucky bourbon and drive a Subaru. With a certain loyalty earned by a product that I have enjoyed and which has made it worth my while, but a product not entitled to some sort of special treatment or status from me beyond the enjoyment it provides.

This year’s potential number one draft pick ruled ineligible for the high school season

Baseball draft
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Jason Groome, a New Jersey high school pitcher who is considered the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in this year’s draft, will not be pitching for his high school team for a while. He was ruled ineligible by the body which governs high school athletics in New Jersey for violating transfer rules.

Groome pitched last year at at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which is basically a boarding school for sports prospects. His family didn’t change permanent addresses, however, and he decided that he wanted to pitch this year back home with his high school friends rather than return to IMG. For these purposes, the governing board ruled that he hadn’t transferred the same way that a kid who simply moved did and thus he was required to sit out half the season. He didn’t do that, and now he’s ineligible and his records on the year have been erased, including a 19-strikeout, 90-pitch no-hitter he threw this past Monday. He can return once he has missed half of his team’s games.

I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, it’s lame that a kid can’t play baseball. On the other hand, parents of elite athletes have to have some sort of check on them because, if given the chance, they would absolutely switch their kids from school to school each year if doing so maximized their kids’ athletic opportunities. Sports parents are pretty terrible when given the chance to be. It’s also worth noting that the main voice speaking up in the kids’ defense is an agent. There are a lot of interests behind Groome who aren’t involved here simply because a boy wants to play with his friends.

Ultimately this probably won’t matter a ton. Groome is six-foot, five inches, throws a 97 mph fastball and has a plus curveball. He was ranked as the No. 1 overall draft prospect last month by Baseball America. That shouldn’t change.