Japan goes to a standardized baseball

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From the Department of Stuff I Never Ever Thought About and Even Now Have Trouble Believing, the New York Times had a story over the weekend about the baseballs used by NPB teams, and how — until this year — Japanese teams have all been able to use different suppliers for baseballs.

In addition to the stuff about the balls themselves, it’s a neat read for the background info on the way Japanese teams and the league interact. The teams have all of the power and the league didn’t want to interfere with the business deals each of them had with their ball suppliers. At least until now.

Oh, and the new ball? Deadsville. Very pitcher friendly, it seems, which may make the notion of an American team taking a gamble on a Japanese pitcher even more harrowing than it always has been.

Yu Darvish, anyone?

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.