Nothin’ like a parade! In Phoenix! In July! At noon!

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People keep asking me if I’m going to Phoenix for the All-Star Game.  I keep telling them no.

A number of reasons, really. For one thing, I’m not really a proper reporter, so I’m not sure what I’d do there except get in everyone’s way while I did that “what the heck am I doing here” Hunter S. Thompson thing that, while always good in theory, tends to just annoy everyone in practice.

Secondly, I was just in Phoenix for spring training, and while that lends itself to reporting too, a ten day boondoggle is a little different because you can grok the zeitgeist a little more than you can with a two-day kind of deal. And it’s easier to indulge the Thompson fantasies when you have more time and space to spread out.

There’s also the fact that I don’t find the All-Star Game particularly interesting, so I wouldn’t exactly be doing much besides grouching about things, and even a cynic like me has to acknowledge that that’s not the highest and best use of a press pass.

But mostly it’s the heat. I hate the heat, and I don’t want to be in 100 degree weather no matter how dry it is.  So forgive me if I watch this — straight from the press release factory at Major League Baseball — on TV:

Fans will have an opportunity to see their favorite 2011 MLB All-Stars up close on the streets of Phoenix and on television nationally on MLB Network as part of the seventh annual MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet.

On Tuesday, July 12, fans are invited to watch the procession of All-Stars to the 82nd Midsummer Classic as they make their way down an approximately 1,750 foot red carpet stretching 1/3 of a mile from the corner of 1stSt. and Jefferson St. down 4th St. and ending at Chase Field.

The event, which begins at 12:00 p.m. local time, is scheduled to feature all the Major League Baseball All-Stars riding in Chevrolet Silverados. Serving as Grand Marshal, MLB All-Star Ambassador and five-time MLB All-Star Luis Gonzalez will lead the parade through the streets.

Nothing like a parade at high noon in Phoenix in July.  I’ll be in my fortified compound sipping cool beverages.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.