Craig Calcaterra

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Washington Nationals practice balls  during spring training workouts on February 18, 2014 in Viera, Fl.  (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Pitcher and catcher report days, full squad workout days announced for all 30 teams

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I can’t remember which baseball writer said it, but one of them said the other day that it’s weird how far away baseball season seems in late December and how close it seems in early January. But it’s true, it does. Probably because that’s when clubs start talking about the upcoming season a lot.

And releasing information such as when the pitchers and the catchers will report. Like they just did. Here are the report dates and the full squad workout dates of all 30 teams.

Plan your making-fun-of-beat-writer-iPhone-pics-through-chain-link-fence activities accordingly:

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A lawsuit with big baseball-on-TV implications goes to trial next week

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Next week, a lawsuit captioned Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball goes to trial. We’ve talked about it briefly in the past, but it’s an easy case to forget about given that it deals with antitrust and broadcast rights and stuff like that. It’s tremendously significant, however, and the fact that it has neither been settled nor dismissed before now means that the way baseball is broadcast could be radically altered in the very near future.

The short version of things is that a certified class of baseball fans is suing Major League Baseball, claiming that its broadcast policies — particularly broadcast territories and attendant blackout rules — illegally limit competition and consumer choice. Major League Baseball is arguing that such restrictions are, in the aggregate, better for consumers and ensure that more baseball games are broadcast.

You may scoff at baseball’s argument at first blush — how can restrictions lead to more of a product and/or a better product? — but it’s not ridiculous. If the restrictions were gone, perhaps the Yankees or the Red Sox become nationally broadcast teams? Perhaps a small market team, without a protected territory, decides it can’t make money broadcasting games, thus leading to a limited number of games for the fans of that team? Of course, that’s just Major League Baseball’s argument. All of us, as fans, can tell stories of the ridiculous and Kafkaesque nature of baseball’s blackouts and territorial restrictions which make watching the teams we want to see much harder and/or much more expensive than it should be.

Those are just the thumbnail sketches of the case. For a good, thorough analysis of it all, I highly, highly recommend that you go read Nathaniel Grow’s story on the case over at FanGraphs, where he breaks it down six ways from Sunday. Really, this is must-read material here.

It’s a bench trial, meaning that the judge, not a jury, will be making the decision here. For what it’s worth, Dan McLaughlin, an attorney/baseball writer/political writer who is familiar with the judge on this case just said that “knowing Judge [Shira] Scheindlin, expect a lengthy & detailed opinion; she won’t be afraid to break new ground.” There is no money at stake here, but Major League Baseball could be ordered at the end of this trial to change its broadcasting practices.

Stay tuned. Assuming you’re not blacked out, of course.

The Pirates sign Daniel Bard

Daniel Bard
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Minor league deals of fringe players are not news, but whenever the minor league deal goes to a player that used to be something — or was supposed to be something — it still makes you stop and think about it for a minute or two. On this basis Daniel Bard signings will always be something we make a note of. He just signed with the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel reports.

Bard hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2013 and his odyssey through multiple organizations since then has been one of the more unfortunate things to watch a once-promising pitcher go through. He was signed by the Cubs about a year ago but didn’t make the team and didn’t pitch anyplace, majors, minors or independents in 2015. The year before he made only four appearances for Single-A Hickory with the Rangers. He recorded two outs and allowed 13 runs on nine walks and seven hit batters. The Rangers released him shortly thereafter.

Here’s hoping the year off has cured him of the yips, Steve Blass disease or whatever else derailed Bard’s career.