Choose your battles

Milestone: Spring is here, or at least spring training. But baseball has some issues. Also: 7 other things worth a click.

First sign of spring: Pitchers and catchers report for spring training today. It's a good American milestone, even if you don't care about baseball.

This is a tricky subject in my family. I grew up a Red Sox fan, and my wife is a pretty serious Yankees fan. But our drama is nothing compared to what's going on with Major League Baseball itself.

I'm drawn to the lawsuit filed this week by a former pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, who claims that cheating by the Houston Astros destroyed his career.

Quick background: Baseball says the Astros they used electronic measures to steal pitching signs during the 2017 season (when they won the World Series).

Thus, their batters knew ahead of time what the opposing pitchers would throw—which gave them a much better chance of getting on base and scoring.

Mike Bolsinger was one of those opposing pitchers.

A journeyman, he moved up and down from the minors to MLB and back. In what turned out to be his last-ever appearance in the majors, he came on in relief for the Blue Jays against the Astros on August 4, 2017.

The Astros lit him up: four runs in less than an inning.

He was sent down to the minors and eventually cut. Unable to get on with another team, he played professionally in Japan. Now he's out of work entirely.

But then the sign-staling scandal broke, and he learned that the Astros had "decoded and stolen the sign for essentially every pitch thrown" in his disastrous outing that day, "and transmitted it to the Astros' batters," according to his lawsuit.

I could go on and on about this. I kind of love it. I also can't imagine that the Astros players considered that their team could get sued over this.

But we like to think we live in a nation of laws, so while I'd never heard of Bolsinger before, I'm rooting for him here.

(I also wrote on about why it’s smart that he chose to file the suit 1,500 miles away from Houston).

It’s probably not unrelated that the New York Post got a scoop about how baseball wants to expand its postseason. I'll give the league points for creativity, anyway.

The plan is to let the best teams in the playoffs choose who they want to play in the first round of the post-season. They’d have a whole reality show TV program where the top teams would make their picks, too.

I'm not going to go through all the machinations here. That would literally be too “inside baseball.” But, you'd have the equivalent of the Yankees asking the Red Sox if they'd accept this rose, so to speak.

Maybe we can take it a step further in a later iteration, like American Idol, and let the fans call in and vote on who they'd like to see.

Anyway, with everything going on in the world right now, getting too excited over rule changes and cheating in baseball might be a little too much.

Some people love it, some people don't. Others, like me still enjoy going to a couple of games a year, if only for the atmosphere and camaraderie and tradition.

Oh, and of course, the lawsuits. Tell me what's more American than that.

7 other things worth a click

  1. The CIA secretly owned the world’s top encryption company, used it to communication equipment to foreign governments for decades, and spied on them as a result until 2018. (The Washington Post)

  2. Some news organizations say they’ll stop putting mugshot galleries on their websites as clickbait. (The Marshall Project)

  3. “Falling” and “being chased” top the list of most common nightmares, according to a study. (

  4. Four countries have now refused to allow a cruise ship to dock, because of coronavirus fears. (Detroit News)

  5. A judge approved the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, and nobody seems really sure what it will do to consumers or the mobile industry . (NBC News)

  6. Sen. Sanders edged out Mayor Buttigieg, and Sen. Klobuchar came in a close third among Democrats in the New Hampshire primary. (Associated Press)

  7. Afterward, the CEO of Twitter lamented that Andrew Yang dropped out of the race. (Twitter)

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