Jesse Jarnow

grapefruit league links

Grapefruit League games begin on Wednesday. (Do you like http://www.negrophonic.com/2007/bjorkdiddygif/">grapefruit?)

o For the first time in a decade, Major League Baseball has tweaked the rules. Some stuff, such as a new way of resolving tied games, might come into play. In most cases throughout the 14-page PDF — the umpire placing the rosin bag on the pitcher’s mound instead of carrying it with him, for example — the changes are almost literally insignificant. Often, they exist simply to make a rule “consistent with current practice at the professional level.” One uses the word “expectorate.” In places, the changes excise outmoded historical statutes. They also acknowledge that any place the official rules refer to “he,” it could also mean “she.” If it is accepted that nobody, especially not Abner Doubleday, was singularly responsible for codifying the rules of a folk game, then — owners and commerce aside — it remains, like most professional sports, morphed and unconsciously micromanaged by the collective will of the participants. Official changes are, most of the time, secondary.

o The New York Times runs a nice profile Mets’ bench coach Jerry Manuel. “I feel very strongly that the game has a certain flow to it,” Ben Shpigel quotes Manuel as saying. “You make adjustments as it goes on.” It also notes that Manuel reads Gandhi and Tolstoy, which makes him a nice match with anti-war socialist/Gabriel Garcia Marquez-reading first baseman Carlos Delgado. I like the description of Manuel finding a “secluded spot on the field” to listen to the players around him.

o From the opposite school as Manuel is J.C. Bradbury, whose Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed was recently published (and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal). While the book sounds mindblowingly analytical, no doubt, I guess I’m a little skeptical of the claim that statistics comprise an objective, “real” game of ball. Baseball seems much larger to me, statistics being one part of a collision that also involves the drama, tedium, life, and lives that unfold from an eight-month season that begins in late February and ends in late October. Yes, you can read a baseball game as entries into a grand database (as my friend Russ recently pointed out) and maybe there’s something pure about that, but I’m not sure if it’s any more real or important than, say, a random summer rain delay.

o Spring training might be slow on actual news, but it’s high on human interest stories, usually in the form of profiles of perpetual minor league journeymen like Colter Bean.

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