Players are concerned their routines will be messed up as a result of pace of play changes. Well, tough.

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Jayson Stark of ESPN has a story about how players are concerned that their voices will not be heard in the ongoing discussion about increasing the pace of play in Major League Baseball. Yes, the union is involved and the union asks players about such things, but no players are on the committee which is discussing possible rules changes.

At the outset, yes, I agree: players should be at the table, not just Tony Clark. If it were just about their rights being protected, fine, let the union deal with it. But if it’s about the actual mechanics of the job, the people who do the job probably have better insight about all of this than anyone. Or at least should be in the conversation when the way they do their job is being changed.

That said, the players’ complaints, as told to Stark, don’t exactly move me. Among them:

That too much of the blame for slowing the game — and most of the responsibility for fixing it — seems to have been placed on players. Players complained that Selig has made a number of comments about how “aggravated” he is with hitters who step out of the box after every pitch and start “adjusting all the crap [they] have on.” That tone, said one player, “isn’t helping.”

I hate to break it to you guys, but you are the reason games are slow. Yes, commercial breaks are a bit longer than they used to be, but it’s the batter and pitcher interaction — and lack of action — which is what is slowing everything down. Maybe pointing that out “isn’t helping” insofar as your ego and your hurt feelings go, but addressing that is the primary way to help speed things up.

Indeed, the other things players mention as culprits — commercial breaks, sabermetrics encouraging batters to take more pitches and more pitching changes happening — deal directly with the finances of baseball, the strategy of baseball and the rules of baseball, respectively, and making changes to those things would be far more problematic than simply having players, you know, step on it a bit.

There is one funny bit here, however. One of the changes on the table — a change which is being tested in the Arizona Fall League right now — is the pitch clock, which would be visible on the outfield wall and behind home plate and which would, in theory, ensure that pitchers deliver the ball in a timely manner when no runners are on base. Curtis Granderson muses:

“You could have a situation where there are 10 seconds on the clock, and fans are yelling, ‘3-2-1,’ and messing the pitcher up. … And the next thing you know, the hitter and the pitcher are both rushing to the clock because they don’t want a violation.”

Am I crazy, or wouldn’t that be pretty cool? This is no different than “Hey batterbatter saaaawiiiiing batter!” This isn’t tennis or golf. Suck it up.

Most of the players complaints here boil down to “man, don’t mess with our routines.” Welp, sorry. Your routines are way easier to mess with than rules which would fundamentally alter the game. And your routines are the primary problem. You should totally be in the conversation dealing with all of that, probably in a more active role than you currently are, but ultimately the burden of change is going to fall on the guys who actually play the game.

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.