Happy Frank and Jamie McCourt trial day!

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Roger Clemens’ arraignment isn’t the only baseball related court thingee going on today. The McCourt trial starts too. At stake: the very future of the Dodgers.

Frank says the team is his. Jamie says it’s theirs. If he wins, the status quo will reign, and the Dodgers can keep on skimping on the free agent market like they have been, Frank can keep taking all kinds of money out of the team for whatever reason and the Dodgers can generally fail to put their revenue to its highest and best use from a baseball perspective. If she wins, someone’s going to have to buy someone out, so things will get worse. It’s truly inspiring!

Less-flippantly, the key question at issue will be the
validity of a post-nuptial agreement signed by the couple in
March 2004.  On its face it appears to bear out Frank’s position: Jamie got all the real estate and insulation from creditors who might go after the Dodgers one day, Frank got the team. The wrinkle: Jamie’s lawyers said recently that “newly discovered documents” change all of this, and she does too own the team.

The nuances behind all of that are complicated, but People Who Know Things tell me that Jamie’s lawyers are out to lunch on this and that Frank is in a strong position. In my experience, late-discovered documents like that are almost always either (a) irrelevant; or (b) outright bogus.  Ask yourself: if there really was a document that truly changed the equation in this regard, why would we have only heard about it a couple of weeks ago?  Sounds like posturing to me.

In any event, this case has a far bigger potential to impact baseball than the Clemens thing does, as the future of one of the game’s marquee franchises is at stake. If you can stand it, keep your eyes on it.  If not, by all means, click back here because I’ll be updating as events warrant.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.