Steve Tracshel is not in a hurry.

Steve Tracshel is not in a hurry.

Baseball games are long sometimes. This is not news.

It’s a game played at a leisurely pace without a clock and with the defense in possession of the ball and able to control the pace of the game, for the most part. There are breaks and pitching changes and music is played between batters and then there are commercials and when Joe Girardi breaks out his giant binder, forget it. Baseball games are long. Some are longer than others.

So it’s up to the good people of Major League Baseball to speed things up, presumably. And as is the case all too often, it’s the people in charge of baseball who need to be kept from baseball at all costs.

This is probably not going to come to fruition, but the fact that an executive within MLB told a reporter that “they ought to change the game to seven innings” is frightening. That person makes money to work within the highest level of the game, and he has that opinion. (more…)

Sizemore was good, but he didn't quite match Evans' Opening Day record.

Sizemore was good, but he didn’t quite match Evans’ Opening Day record.

At this point in the season, it may finally be safe to assume that all Opening Days, save for the home openers of individual teams that may not have happened yet, are finally in the books. Overseas, Sunday nights, the real thing Monday, the Yankees and Astros finally playing a game on Tuesday, and then teams even getting in a second and sometimes third or fourth game as of yesterday. Baseball is back, officially back, standings count, statistics are being accumulated, and so on.

Focusing squarely on the Monday Opening Day, when most teams played their first game and played most of them in the day, there was no shortage of highlights amid the excitement. Neil Walker hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Pirates a win over the Cubs. Old friend Alex Gonzalez gave his new team, the Tigers, a game-winning hit against the Royals. The Mets game was delayed when they didn’t have a first baseman on the field, so they’re already in mid-season form.

And here, Grady Sizemore, playing in his first Major League game since 2011, hit a home run in what became a 2-1 loss in Baltimore against the Orioles. Where Opening Day is a time to quickly survey the rest of the league, most of Spring Training was focused on the Red Sox, and Sizemore’s phoenix-like comeback had been the focus. Seeing him already playing well in his first real action seemed like a good harbinger for the upcoming season. (more…)

Seriously, Pedro knows what's good in this world.

Seriously, Pedro knows what’s good in this world.

Check out the guy to the left over there. He’s in a good mood, he’s concentrating, it’s sunny and there may or may not be a palm tree visible behind him. It could also be a light tower. It’s hard to tell.

And why shouldn’t he be in a good mood? It’s practically baseball season. At this point in the career of the player in question (it’s Pedro Martinez, for the record), he had just won the World Series, he was zooming in on his first season as a New York Met, and the horrifying reality of all that would entail hadn’t quite sunk in yet, so for now, life was still pretty great.

Likewise, baseball fans are at their most optimistic in March. The winter is finally behind them, and the thought of sunny skies and green fields and afternoons sitting in the bleachers with a beer and watching nine innings are so close as to be taunting. Everyone, even the most ardent fans of perennial cellar-dwellers can envision wreaking havoc against all odds in June and July, trading for Ervin Santana and making a run in October. (more…)

Jeffrey Loria (artist's rendering).

Jeffrey Loria (artist’s rendering).

There aren’t many storylines in Spring Training that deviate too far from each other. Most of the time, they fit neatly into one of these categories:

1. Player A in best shape of his life
2. Player B outperforming expectations, may make team.
3. Player C suffers bizarre injury.
4. Team has new manager/general manager/players and is changing club culture.
5. Player D is still without a home.

Looking around, there are probably plenty of players who could fill the first category (I know David Ortiz is looking especially trim these days). It’s a little early for someone to fill the second, Jake Peavy has already given us the third by almost cutting his finger off, a few teams have new managers and overhauled rosters, and Ervin Santana and Stephen Drew are easily the best unemployed baseball players in the world.

And so it goes for Spring Training, which is typically five weeks of watching games in sunny locales with palm trees in the outfield and players with ridiculously high numbers taking the field. Soon it’ll be Opening Day, real games will start and real complaining can begin.

Unless the Miami Marlins are in the equation, that is. (more…)

I don't really know why, but I think I'm keeping this.

I don’t really know why, but I think I’m keeping this.

There’s no denying my first impression. I was impressed and intrigued.

As David Roth writes in only that way he can, J. Corey Stackhouse is on a mission to collect every Tim Wallach baseball card ever printed. And when I first read that without finishing to the end, I thought, “interesting. I’m trying to do the same thing,” for a few guys, anyway — Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, Dwight Evans, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice, to name five. I’ve even got a few doubles and triples that I’ve held onto.

But that’s not it, of course. He wants every single one ever printed. And he’s documenting the process. (more…)