Braves closer Craig Kimbrel throws ungodly heat and has a slider that makes hitters look positively dumb. Your mileage may vary between him and Aroldis Chapman as the most dominant closers in the game, but it’s safe to say that what he has done to the opposition over the past couple of years seems pretty unfair sometimes.
Which makes this seem positively obscene:
Melvin Upton Jr. looked at almost every Kimbrel pitch without swinging, not an uncommon approach when facing Kimbrel on Day 1. Meanwhile, Braves newcomer Jonny Gomes swung at some Kimbrel offerings and missed a few, including one that appeared to be a … changeup? From Kimbrel? The guy with high-90s fastball and devastating slider?
Fredi Gonzalez speculates that Kimbrel is just messing with it and isn’t sure how often he’ll use the changeup in actual games. And Mark Bowman of MLB.com just tweeted that Kimbrel has experimented with changeups in spring training in the past (I don’t remember this, but I don’t really pay attention to spring training experiments either). But boy howdy, if Kimbrel does use a changeup and if it’s even halfway decent, he should be prosecuted for war crimes.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.