Old School Spring Training

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If you look at only one photo archive today with pictures of Walter O’Malley at Dodgertown playing cards with his shirt off, Stan Musial doing pushups, and Pee Wee Reese on the ground wrestling with a shirtless guy, make it this photo archive, highlighted today by lar at Wezen-Ball.

True story: In 1973, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn mandated that shirts be worn at all times during spring training as a result of the Oakland A’s bold decision to break baseball’s lamentable “gentleman’s agreement” which, until that point, had prevented teams from signing players with body hair.

The new rule was grandfathered in, of course, with Charlie Hough and Goose Gossage being allowed to go shirtless until their retirements following the 1994 season.  Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre still have the right, but they have chosen not to exercise it for both personal and professional reasons. Today George Steinbrenner, ever-the-maverick, is the only baseball figure routinely seen cavorting topless around a spring training facility.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.