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Foltynewicz strolls back into camp a proud papa

Foltynewicz strolls back into camp a proud papa

As Braves pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, Mike Foltynewicz re-acquainted with some of his teammates and made it clear his new role as a proud papa might significantly reduce the amount of idle time he spends with members of his team this year in the clubhouse and golf course.

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A-Town Down: Culture, Vol 2

A-Town Down: Culture, Vol 2

In Bravesland… Nothing happened. Much argument and debate was had around the nothingness. Sturm followed drang, which fed back into the next round of sturm. Maybe this week they’ll sign Little Eddy Nunez and everybody will be joyous and happy. Or not. Anywho; here’s a link to a Fox Sports bit headlined “Ten storylines that will define Braves’ spring training.” Be warned, it leads with “how healthy is Scott Kazmir.” That’s where we are, folks. “How healthy is Scott Kazmir.” Feel the excitement!

In Falconia… My dudes. My dudettes. You want to know what is more soul-crushingly boring than MLB off-season? NFL off-season. I mean, we’re talking about a process of scouting, drafting and free agency that is so devoid of anything of actual interest the league turned Mel friggin’ Kiper into “something to watch.” Mel. Kiper. Biggest story for the Birds this week came from their former offensive coordinator’s new team out in San Fran. By giving Jimmy Garrapolo $27 million per year, the 49er’s pretty much guaranteed a $30+ mil deal for Matt Ryan. And let’s be honest. The Falcons aren’t going to let Matt Ryan, the second best quarterback in the league at this point, walk. They’re in a win-now window. (Don’t be shocked if they trade for Michael Bennett to pair with Vic Beasley on the d-line next year. Win-now mode.)

Over in Hawkmanistan… Oh god. Please. Don’t make me look at this. The NBA trade deadline came and went. They traded one journeyman mediocrity you’ve never heard (Luke Babbit) for another guy you’ve never heard of (Okaro White), who they will almost certainly waive immediately. Then they took a player who is injured (Sheldon Mac) off of the Wizard’s hands for cash considerations. All of this is moving pieces around for small cash savings and cap space that may one day be used for acquiring actually talented players, assuming they lose enough to draft a quality young core before then. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Although right there at the tale end of a week in which they lost to the Magic and got torched by Kyle Korver and the completely rebuild Cavs, Dewayne Dedmond went off on Detroit and reeled in an unexpected win. Dewayne Dedmond. I’ll wait while you look him up.

Ahhhhh, United. God bless you Arthur Blank. The local footballers-who-play-the-version-that-uses-your-feet kicked off their sophomore campaign with a preseason friendly in Nashville. This was a big deal for Nashville as it’s the first professional soccer match ever for that city. Their new club, Nashville SC (Nashville Soccer Club; soccer clubs are not expansive with their naming conventions, man) will play at least a couple of seasons in the USL. As we learned last week, the USL is sort of the AAA option of professional soccer in America. Nashville intends to graduate up to the MLS level in a couple of years, but for now, they’ll actually compete against United’s second club, Atlanta United 2. The match itself was a sloppy mess on both ends, due to being played on a poorly draining minor league baseball field in the middle of a downpour. It was nice to see the UTD stars line up and play (unexpectedly for more than just a few minutes.) But mostly, it was nice to not see anyone injured in the swamp of a pitch. To their credit, Nashville’s starting 11 held steady against a much more talented lineup from Atlanta in the first half. In the second period, the depth of one of MLS’s most electric (and expensive) roster proved out and ATL walked away with a 3-1 win. Aside from pre-season work, the match mostly showed the potential for a real Nashville SC – United 2 rivalry to develop in the USL this year. Of course, the new guys have a long, long way to go before they would challenge the MLS club in Atlanta regularly, because ATLUTD is one of the most professionally run, well funded, and intelligent front offices in the league. Remember when that happened with the Braves?

Finally, did you know that Atlanta has a professional lacrosse team? Did you know that there was a professional lacrosse league?! Well, there is, and we do. The Georgia Swarm are apparently about to kick off the second half of a split season, starting in February. PROFESSIONAL LACROSSE!

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High-octane heat has Minter in line for 'pen role

High-octane heat has Minter in line for 'pen role

A.J. Minter’s sample size is small. But given his tremendous potential, it still seems appropriate to point out that during his brief time at the Major League level last year, he produced strikeout rates never previously matched by any reliever who has tallied at least 15 innings during a rookie season.

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Notable Rule Changes in Baseball

Notable Rule Changes in Baseball

Every year, there is a host of proposed rule changes, some of which happen and some of which don’t. This year, if you’ve been paying attention, there are some minor rule changes like increasing the netting at stadiums, but the biggest rule change is a pitch clock. Since that rule change doesn’t appear likely, Manfred has said that if the average game time doesn’t reduce to 2 hours and 55 minutes, they will implement the pitch clock. The three main objections to this rule change are similar:

-“The game is fine just the way it is.”
-“Why are we catering to mainstream baseball fans that are not as passionate about the game?”
-“The game needs to be played in its original form. Stop changing it!”

There’s some validity to the first two statements. Maybe the game is fine the way it is. Revenues are up, franchise values are up, player salaries are up, and there’s no real analytics that say the game is imminently in trouble. And perhaps it’s true that baseball shouldn’t make rule changes that alienate its loyal base to chase other bases. I disagree with both of those points, but they’re very fair and valid points.

The third one is just not true. This is not the same game as the one originally played. There have been consistent changes to the game of baseball since 1857. For humor, I want to list some of the more interesting rule changes since the beginning of ball, provided to you by Baseball Almanac’s Baseball Rule Change Timeline:

1858 – The baserunner is no longer required to touch each base in order.

Could you imagine how that would play out?

1863 – The pitcher is no longer allowed to take a step during his delivery and he had to pitch with both feet on the ground at the same time.

Jordan Walden would have been a legend in mid-19th century baseball.

1885 – Chest protectors worn by catchers and umpires came into use.

That was probably a good move.

1887 – Five balls became a base on balls.

More than 5 would be a little excessive.

1887 – The batter was awarded first base when hit by a pitch.

No more freebies, pitchers!

1901 – Catchers were compelled to remain continuously under the bat.

No bathroom breaks.

1925 – The minimum home-run distance was set at 250 feet.

I’m actually not sure what this means. The shortest “porch” I can think of was the Polo Grounds, but it had a right-field wall 257 feet from home plate.

1959 – Regulations were set up for minimum boundaries for all new parks, 325-400-325 feet.

It’s hard to cry “keep the integrity of the game” when we still aren’t playing on the same fields, and it took this long just to establish some legitimate parameters for the dimensions of the field.

1971 – All major-league players were ordered to wear protective helmets.

Like increasing the netting, this has to file under “Why Did It Take This Long?” It would seem to be a no-brainer to put protective helmets on the noggins of players, but the game was around for over a hundred years before this went into the book.

To be fair, people who want the game to change as little as possible can easily point to the fact that we haven’t needed to make any significant changes to the game in the last half-century. But to say we are playing the same game as we had from the beginning, well, that’s not true.

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