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MLB: Welcome to the 21st Century

It’s about time Major League Baseball got something right.

With the new five-year collective bargaining agreement that was just signed, MLB finally pulled their head out of the sand and got themselves out of the 19th Century.

The most important things the new plan calls for are expanded replay, blood testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), another wildcard team in each league (which will be 15 per once the Houston Astros move to the AL in 2013) and restraints on amateur signing bonuses. I just want to break all these down in small capsules real quick:

Expanded replay:
All I can say is that it’s about damn time. MLB will now include fair/foul calls and trapped catches in the outfield. I can’t remember how many times I’ve yelled at the TV over a crappy call over one of those calls that could’ve been reviewed in five seconds. Heck, they probably could’ve even reviewed it on the stadium jumbotron and still have gotten it right.

Honestly, I might even be okay if they eventually expand that to tags on stolen bases and a close call of a safe/out play at bases. Armando Gallaraga would have a perfect game right now if that were the case. Jorge Orta also would’ve been out at 1st base in the 1985 World Series. Umpires Jim Joyce and Don Dekinger would have been saved a lot of hate mail.

The only thing I would never go for is balls and strikes getting reviewed.

Blood testing for HGH:
I’m giving the most applause for this one since MLB is the first major sport in the US to implement this. To be honest, with all the scandal baseball faced in the early 2000’s, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. Urine tests can be beat but blood can be a bit trickier. The sport is seemingly cleaner since the Mitchell Report but hopefully this rids the sport of anymore cheaters.

Expansion of playoffs:
It seems like the last few years, the divisions are decided by September and the only interesting race by the end are the wildcard races. Two wildcard spots in the NFL have made things interesting – I think the same thing will happen for baseball.

Amateur signing bonuses:
Well, they don’t have money restrictions anywhere else so this is seemingly the best place to have some. Out of any sport, it’s hardest to predict if baseball prospects will turn out well or not because so much of the game is mental. I think this was a solid move and should help level the playing field for small-market teams. Often times, teams like the Pirates have to let a top-level prospect go by in the draft to someone like the Yankees because they can’t afford them. Some (*cough* sleazeball agents) will argue that multi-sport athletes will go to other sports instead because they can’t get enough money up front in baseball.

“If I’ve got a great athlete, why am I going to go to baseball? I’m going to focus on the other sports,” said agent Scott Boras.

Go ahead – take them somewhere else. I’d rather see someone go to a different sport than potentially get overpaid and fizzle out in Double-A.

 Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m especially interested in your thoughts on instant replay:



The Albert Pujols Sweepstakes

Now that the World Series is over, the free agent frenzy begins. This offseason, there is not a bigger prize to be had than Albert Pujols. He has arguably had the best 10 years to begin his career as anyone…ever. Now the big question is where he will land for the 2012 season.

The choices:
Before you can find out what team he’s going to choose, you have to know what he will have to choose from. Typically the big spenders in the past few years have been the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets and Dodgers. Just for the heck of it, we’ll toss the Nationals in there because they spent a stupid amount of money on Jayson Werth (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIs in 150 games). That was totally worth it.

Automatically, we’ll throw out the Dodgers and Mets. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is going through a messy divorce and Mets owner Fred Wilpon was involved with the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Both of those things = no money. Wilpon will have a hard enough tiome trying to keep NL batting champ Jose Reyes let alone get Pujols.

The Red Sox and Yankees already have fantastic first basemen in Adrian Gonzalez (.338, 27 HR, 117 RBI) and Mark Teixeira (.248, 39 HR, 111 RBI), respectively. The Red Sox had an awful end to their season but I don’t think they’ll overreact by getting rid of a productive player like Gonzalez.

The Nationals are a sleeper team because of the ridiculous money they are willing to spend, but Pujols will not be willing to be the cornerstone of a team where he will not have a chance at another World Series ring.

That leaves the top two contenders: The Cubs have money to spend and are looking to make a splash with Theo Epstein, their newest executive, at the helm. The Cardinals are desperate to keep the face of their franchise in St. Louis.

The Cubs will likely offer Pujols huge money but there’s a few thing that come into play. One – he’d be going to the Cardinals biggest rival and tainting his legacy in St. Louis. Two – Pujols has said that he likes St. Louis and seems like the kind of guy that wants to stay with one team his whole career.

The decision:
Pujols will be taking his talents back to the Gateway to the West, most likely with the Cardinals getting a hometown discount. The Cubs will get a very respectable “second place” by plucking Prince Fielder from the Brewers.

Epstein will be looking to make even bigger splashes in the Cubbie rotation. Personally, I can’t wait to see the match-ups next season between the World Series champs and what will likely be an upstart Chicago team.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.



Getting off the Bench

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been contemplating getting back into sport blogging. With this post, I’m finally getting off the schnide with my new blog “Foul Talk.”

I say “back” because the last time I touched a personal sports blog was nearly three years ago with my old blog, Below the Belt. Why abandon that one? I can’t figure out how the hell to back get into it; Plus, I couldn’t come up with a sweet Twitter username to accompany it.
(Shameless plug: Use to get my latest sports musings and when I actually decide to post a blog here)

I wanted to come back to writing a sports blog because sports is what I truly enjoy.  After going to college for journalism, working for my college newspaper as sports editor and interning for three Triple-A baseball teams, I thought I was destined to work in sports. I’m currently working for a nursing association doing social media marketing – so, pretty much the exact opposite. I really like my job but it leaves a void in being able to provide my humble sports opinions.

My hope is that Foul Talk will provide its readers an informal mix of sports and sarcastic humor. I’m aware that format has never been used before so feel free to call me an innovator.