MLB Network to launch a game show that sounds kinda neat

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I once tried out for “Jeopardy!”  Passed the test and went on to the practice game.  They said I was “in the contestant pool” but they never called me.  Since then I’ve had one boss and four coworkers who have gone on “Jeopardy!”, all of whom won at least once and two of whom were five-time champions.  Meanwhile, I roam the Earth as a Trivial Pursuit hustler.  Coulda been somebody. Coulda been a contender. Alas.

But I won’t let my life’s biggest disappointment put a damper on this, which actually sounds pretty cool:

MLB Network today announced the launch of Baseball IQ, its first-ever game show, premiering Tuesday, January 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Hosted by MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian, Baseball IQ is a recall-based trivia show featuring two participants, 30 minutes and a chance to win up to $45,000 for charity. Questions will cover all things baseball, from current players and managers to World Series champions, MVPs, Cy Young Award winners, Hall of Famers, milestones and more.

There should be rooting interests too, because they’re doing it as a bracket-style thing, with a representative from each club, one from MLB.com and one from the Hall of Fame.  But don’t think you’re going to have Adam Dunn facing off against Ozzie Guillen here. It’s way more likely that you’ll have the Tigers’ bright young media relations guy matching wits with the Mariners’ assistant to the travelling secretary. UPDATE: here’s a list with all of the participants and more details.

Which I think is way more fun, actually, because people will fall in love with these guys like they do reality show contestants. Some will be endearing, some will be off-putting. It should be kinda neat.

At least if we don’t get overload.  According to the press release, tthere will be two new episodes every Tuesday through Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET from January 24 through February 23, leading up to the start of Spring Training.

That’s a lot of those shows, but it’s not like we have anything else to do.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.