Things That Caught My Eye
We put some baseballs in an X-Ray
Are the balls juiced? Are material changes to the ball an influence on the spike in home runs analysts have found? Commissioner Manfred says that the balls have not changed, but a number of studies from journalistic outfits, this one included, seem to counter that idea. ESPN took the next logical step and did a CT scan on eight MLB balls. The finding? It surely looks like the core of the balls are less dense compared to the control balls from several years ago. Indeed, a layer of pink rubber in the core of the balls was 40 percent less dense in the dinger-era balls than the 2014-2015 era balls. [FiveThirtyEight]
Lundqvist deserved better
The New York Rangers made 11 of the 12 postseasons since the 2004-05 lockout, have won the sixth-most points, and failed to win a Stanley Cup. In the past week the Rangers have had a fire sale, all despite numbers that bear out goalie Henrik Lundqvist carrying much of the load for the team. [FiveThirtyEight]
Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?
The second week is the only reason the U.S. is not ashamed of its Olympics.
The United States got 12.9 fewer medals in Pyeongchang than our very simple medal model would have projected them getting, underscoring a deeply unfortunate games for a typical Winter powerhouse. Most of that underperformance was in week one, though, with week two serving as a clawback toward the mean from what could have been an even worse games. [FiveThirtyEight]
Philly is experimenting
First-year Phillies manager Gabe Kapler appears to be experimenting with defensive shifts in the outfield. Essentially, two players swapped corner outfield positions when a switch hitter made it to the plate batting lefty. While the infield defensive shift is rather common, an outfield defensive swap is something new and compelling. [Fangraphs]
North America 2026 in jeopardy
While a combined bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup seemed a likely prize after the U.S.’s 2022 bid lost to Qatar in a tainted-by-corruption 2010 vote, that bid appears to be in modest jeopardy. Sources indicated that some voters are unsure if the U.S. can be considered a friendly place for foreigners, and that a rival bid from Morocco may be gaining steam. [ESPN]
MLBPA files grievances
The MLB players association filed a grievance agains the Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays, alleging that the teams aren’t spending money they have to commit toward on-field product in the offseason. [CBS Sports]
That’s the probability that the Phoenix Suns get the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. There are seven teams that are virtual locks to make the top 10 draft positions at this point in the season. The Sacramento Kings have a 16.8 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, followed by Atlanta with a 14.2 percent chance, Memphis with a 10.8 percent chance and Orlando with a 9.3 percent chance. [ESPN]
Leaks from Slack:
The Next Big Thing in Defense?
the angels should do this in ohtani games just to further f— with positional changes on pencil and paper scorecards