Well, the rosters for the World Baseball Classic have been announced (click the team flags) and the Twins are sending 4 players to the tournament. Glen Perkins and Joe Mauer will be representing Team USA, while Drew Butera will be on Team Italy and Justin Morneau made it onto Team Canada's roster.
For which I say.... ho hum. I certainly do enjoy seeing televised baseball games start a little earlier in the year than usual, but count me in the camp that worries that participating in the WBC throws players off their schedules that they've grown accustomed to over the years. However, I'm not going to raise too big of a fuss over this, because I don't think it's worth becoming a big deal. Not this year and not for the Twins, at least, as even if Joe Mauer ends up tweaking an ankle or develops some sore knees from catching in the WBC, it's not like the Twins are going to be competitive this year. Sorry to rain pessimism on your parade, everyone.
Now, to the lighter stuff.
- I'm pretty sure I've already commented before on the weird injuries players suffer off the baseball field, but I can't help myself but post another link to a related story because these things are always humorous to remember. Today's post is from John Paschal, who was allowed to write a guest post on Baseball Prospectus about this very subject. While most articles have briefly talked about some of the hilarious hijinks players have gotten themselves into, Paschal seemingly names every injury sustained by a player in spectacular fashion over the years. It's worth a read just to hear about the stories you do remember (Marty Cordova falling asleep in a tanning bed; Joel Zumaya getting a forearm strain from playing Guitar Hero), to those you don't (Adam Eaton stabbing himself while unwrapping the plastic off a DVD case).
- One of Brandon McCarthy's most endearing qualities - outside the ability to make saberists fawn over him and the fact that he has a rather attractive wife - is his quick wit and humor on Twitter. Back on Wednesday, he started up a Twitter war with a person named @Love_that_Goku, and the results were nothing short of incredible, as the back-and-forth dialogue seemed to come straight off a script. For a recap of the whole chat, head on over to Awful Announcing.
- Jayson Stark of ESPN reports on some new rule changes that will take effect in 2013 upon approval from the players union. First, teams will be allowed to have an additional coach in uniform in the dugout during games (increasing from 6 to 7). The change is because many teams have started to hire assistant hitting coaches, and after multiple organizations requested the change, the owners agreed to adopt the new rule. Second, teams will now be allowed to bring an interpreter with during a mound visit, which makes sense because it seems a bit unfair that you can talk strategy with Colby Lewis, but for Yu Darvish you had to pantomime that you had a hunch that the opposing team would attempt a double steal. Finally, and perhaps the one most known, is that the fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move will now be outlawed. Presumably the main reason is because it simply wastes time, as the move rarely works during games. This last change was actually suggested prior to last season, but the players union refused to approve the new rule, citing they wanted to further research the change. However, MLB has the ability to ratify the rule unilaterally one calendar year after the players union abstained from voting, so the union may not even get a say in whether to make the change.
- Lastly, we go back to Jayson Stark, as he reports that instant replay will not be expanded for the 2013 season, which is a bit of a disappointment as the last Collective Bargaining Agreement that was negotiated prior to the 2012 season had a clause where expanded replay would start that season. However, Stark does have a light at the end of the tunnel: a vastly expanded replay system for 2014. In the article, Stark has a lot of information, such as a quote from executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre on why it's taken so long to implement expanded replay: It's better to "do it right, not do it fast." As for the changes we can expect, it appears as though MLB has already tested the systems available for golf and tennis, but found neither to be a fit. Also, it sounds like either a 5th "replay umpire" will join the 4-man crews for games, or there will be a central location for replay similar to the NHL, so that umpires will no longer have to leave the field of play for a review. Next, and this is my least-favorite proposal, is that there will possibly be a challenge system where managers are allowed a limited number of reviews per game. To avoid hurting teams, MLB might follow the NFL in making reviews of important plays mandatory, such as late-game plays and scoring plays, but I absolutely despise a challenge system. I'd rather see every play be called right than to have a team lose a game because its manager already used his challenges earlier. Besides, MLB is fearful that 10+ challenges might produce a 4 hour game with regularity. In response to that, I have two things. First, I'm pretty sure 10 close plays a game is several standard deviations above the norm (i.e. will rarely happen), and second, if you're needing to make 10 reviews a game, you should probably be reviewing your umpires to see why they're making so many questionable calls in the first place.