Craig Calcaterra

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The Braves are talking with Sarasota about a new spring training facility

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The Braves’ current spring training home at Disney World is less-than-ideal. It’s far from almost every other Florida spring training ballpark, which are primarily located on the coasts. Once the Astros leave Kissimmee next year it will leave only the Tigers in Lakeland less than an hour away. Most parks are a couple of hours, actually. Between that and the fact that Disney controls everything on-site, ticket prices included, the Braves have been seeking a new spring training home for after their lease is up following spring 2017.

A few months back the Braves were talking to St. Petersburg, but that went nowhere, likely because the Rays don’t want a spring facility in their Major League town. They’ve talked with Palm Beach too, but nothing’s doing there either. But now there is progress elsewhere.

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that the Sarasota County Commission has voted to move forward in negotiations with the Braves regarding a parcel of land on which the club could build a new facility. Ideally a deal would move quickly so the Braves could get in for 2018, but if it doesn’t the thinking is that they can go one more year at Disney.

The location sounds utterly baffling, geographically speaking:

The Braves and the county are discussing a large parcel of land in the West Villages development in North Port, in the southern part of Sarasota County.

Eh, who cares. Everyone has GPS now. We’ll find it. Just don’t name the park East Pointe or something as it’s already confusing enough.

Meet the kid who almost got clocked in the face with that flying bat

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Yesterday we shared the pics of that kid at the Braves-Pirates game who almost got hit in the face with a flying bat. Today we learn who he is and who the man was who saved him.

It’s a father and son, of course: the son is Landon Cunningham, his father is Shaun. Landon is 9 and that was his first professional baseball game ever. While a lot of people made negative comments about him having his phone in front of him, he was sending pics of the game to his mom and sister. He was understandably excited. Send your derision elsewhere, please.

Today Landon and Shaun were on the “Today” show. Watch:

 

The Mariners are seeking to make the opposition “uncomfortable”

Seattle Mariners' Brad Miller steals third base during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Associated Press
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Every year you hear a manager (or six) talking about how, this year, unlike in the past, his team is really going to be aggressive on the base paths. It’s more of a cliche than Best Shape of His Life, really. Everyone says they’re going to run more, pressure the other team more and take extra bases but once the season starts it’s the same old stuff. No one really runs anymore. Even now, in this allegedly speed-and-defense intensive era, actual base stealing is near historic lows. It’s all talk.

But at least the talk is getting more colorful! Mariners manager Scott Servais spoke with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times and characterized the Mariners’ alleged plan to run more in far more vivid terms than I can recall. The Mariners are talking about “creating some havoc,” to use Servais’ words. He said “A couple of our coaches said, ‘Let’s be uncomfortable.’ Let’s make them uncomfortable. Let’s be uncomfortable to play against.”

This reminds me of tech companies and the strategy of “disruption” or disruptive innovation. It’s an interesting concept. It’s not about innovating in some linear fashion or making things simply better or faster or cheaper. It’s about changing the game in some fundamental way which — and this is important — existing competitors can’t easily ape. Taking advantage of some previously unseen inefficiency in a market to which others simply cannot quickly adapt and which changes the competitive structure.

“Disruption,” however, is one of the most overused words in business and technology. It’s a branding strategy more than an actual business strategy. It’s a term which appears all over the social media profiles of marketing people and consultants but a concept that, in reality, is actually pretty rare in practice. The same goes for baseball and aggressive running games. Everyone talks about it all the time. Occasionally someone does it, like the Royals I suppose. But as we’ve noted here in the past, the story of the Royals isn’t so much a “disruptive” strategy as it’s “having a lot of really good baseball players.”

Which brings us back to the Mariners. I’m not sure that a team with mediocre players simply running more can be disruptive or, to use Servais’ words, “create havoc” or make the opposition “uncomfortable.” All the opposition has to do is keep an eye out for it and, using its superior personnel, stop ’em. Unlike in technology, the only way to really make baseball teams which have been in this business for 150 years “uncomfortable” is to put better players than they have on the field. The Mariners haven’t done that yet. They aren’t disrupting anything.