5-at-10: Friday mailbag with MLB rules review, more on Alabama controversy, betting tidbits

The new, larger base sits next to the older, smaller base at TD Ballpark Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in Dunedin, Fla. Opening day will feature three of the biggest changes in baseball since 1969: Two infielders will be required to be on either side of second base, base size will increase to 18-inch squares from 15 and a pitch clock will be used. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Let's handle our business.

Rushmore of lambs -- "Silence of the Lambs," the Lamb of God (c'mon people if Jesus fits into the category, he has to make the Rushmore; add that to the rules, Spy), Mary's little lambs and lambs to the slaughter (with all apologies to Calhoun's herd of successful coaching Lambs).

Rushmore of doctors in sports -- Doctor J, Dr. James Andrews, who is to sports surgeons what Scott Boras is to agents, Doc Gooden and Frank Jobe who pioneered Tommy John surgery.

Rushmore of fat -- people: Fat Lever, Minnesota Fats, Fats Domino and Fat Vader; non-people: fat lady sings, chew the fat, fatted calf, and "Are you going to eat your fat," from the incomparable Spalding Smails.

Rushmore of days that should be a holiday -- Election Day is a good call, Jackie Robinson Day, Super Bowl Monday (the numbers are staggering on the lack of professional production on that day), Easter Monday (for those of the Christian faith).

Speaking of rules, here's Paschall with some interesting UT football news as Josh Heupel is very well compensated for his efforts in Knoxville.

To the bag.

From Todd

I know you love baseball, so I was wondering which of the new rules you like the most and the one you hate the most?

Thanks and thanks for the 5-at-10 - it makes that hour before lunch at work fly by.


Interesting question, and I think until we see them in practical application, I'm not sure any of us will be completely comfortable with any of them

I will offer the following superlatives thought:

-- New rule that will cause the most player consternation: The pitch clock will take some adjusting to for those pitchers -- and the few hitters -- that fall into the classic nickname that old-school journeyman-turned-manager Mike Hargrove earned as "The Human Rain Delay."

-- New rule that's not a rule that should be a new rule: If we are going to make this many changes and not address the technology flaws in the current system of replay by either eliminating it or expanding it to include an automated strike zone, well, this whole thing has the feel of a heart attack victim getting their nose job done before the doctors open up their chest.

-- New rule that we all will be a little unsure of and will need to see in practice so we can answer the questions of those around us: Limiting the number of pick-off attempts is going to affect strategy from the jump. The rule is relatively simple: Pitchers are limited to two pick-off attempts (or stepping off the rubber) during each AB. That's clear enough, but deciding when to throw over will be a feel thing, because if you throw over before the first pitch, then lead grows. You throw over twice and don't pick that runner off, then you are theoretically giving him second base.

-- New rule(s) that will help the Braves the most: All of the rules to increase attempted stolen bases. The Braves are athletic. Acuña could go 40-40 if he's healthy. Albies will steal 40 with the new rules; Harris will, too, and whoever is playing short likely will run. Moreover, reports from Florida from Dave O'Brien of The Athletic have offered rave reviews of new catcher Sean Murphy's ballyhooed throwing arm. So the Braves will have the ability to exploit the SB incentives and a catcher to thwart them.

-- New rule that will help the NL East the most: The NL East is going to be a dogfight. The Braves are good. The Mets will be better, and that's with the knowledge that they won 100 games last year. The Phillies won the NL and played in the World Series in 2022 and added Trae Turner in the off season. The Marlins have little chance but have two starting pitchers that no one wants to see. So the more balanced schedule means those teams will get more of the AL Center and the other divisions that are not as deep or as talented as the NL East. Here's a breakdown of the schedule from Forbes.com: "MLB will introduce a new scheduling format. For the 2023 and beyond all 30 MLB teams will play at least one series against every other team. Hence, the 162-game regular season will have 52 divisional games (from 76), 64 intraleague games (from 66) and 46 interleague games (from 20). MLB will keep intact a four game (home and home) series against geographic rivals (I.e., Cubs-White Sox, Yankees-Mets, etc.). The goal is to create a more balanced schedule."

As for most excited/least excited, it's kind of the same rule.

I hate the fact that MLB players could not/would not beat the shift on their own merits or through counteractive strategy. And I am almost always against mandated attempts to outlaw advances in coaching, technique, what have you.

But simply put the shift -- which has been banned -- turned everyday games into HR derbys-meet-walkathons-meet-K-fests. Check these numbers I saw on social media:

MLB teams hitting under .240: From 1998 to 2009, there were zero. From 2010-19, there 31 combined. From 2020-22 there were 37, including 14 last year.

Banning the shift has to help those numbers, which means more action, which means better entertainment.

(Side note: Since the wording on banning the shift says four infielders with feet on the dirt and two on each side of second base, you will see a lot of dudes stationed up the middle. I also think you will see some teams experiment with bringing a corner outfielder over and have three outfielders on the pull side of second against those dead-red pull hitters.)

Great question, Todd.

From J-Mac

Jay, can you include a link to your betting terms and info again? Thought it was pretty informative and learned a few things.

Also, a unit is what you are betting? If you were up 31 units and was using 10.00 as a unit, you are up 310.00? On some bets you might want to do 100 ... does that count as 10 units and other bets are 1 unit?



Great question and one I should update more frequently, especially in the afternoon Plays of the Day email. (If you are not signed up, the new links have been fixed and the main page for all of the TFP email newsletters is here. The Plays of the Day sign-up box is third from the bottom.)

The Plays of the Days continue to streak -- like Frank the Tank headed to the quad through the gymnasium -- after last night's 3-0 showing. (Yes, the NBA parlay lost, but that was on a bonus bet offer from FanDuel.)

We are 7-2 on basketball against the number over the last three days and last night's payouts pushed us to a personal high plus-35.65 in our time together.

For context to J-Mac's question, my betting philosophy -- and I say mine, because it's the one I recommend, I surely did not concoct it -- is you start with a bankroll of whatever.

We will call it X. A unit is 1/10 X, and it is the de facto bet amount of every wager I suggest unless I clearly say something different. Most of the time that different wager is a half-unit but occasionally if the math equates it could be 2 units.

So, being up 35-plus units means if you started with 100 bucks, you'd have more than $450 in your account.

Hope that makes sense, and here's the link to the glossary of betting terms. If we're missing one or you are wondering about a betting term we routinely toss around, please ask. I'm sure you're not the only one wondering what it means.

From JB

Good observations this AM, Jay ... Life sure is cheap, isn't it?

Alabama will be jeered and taunted the rest of the season and throughout their tourneys, and they deserve it. Nate Oates and Alabama's president, Stuart Bell, are cowards. If they had ANY ethics between them, they would bench Brandon Miller or excuse him from the team at least temporarily, which would be tantamount to ending Miller' Alabama career. Because isn't he a one and done guy anyway?

Oates has to worry about being heavy handed with Black athletes, we can be sure, and how a suspension would be viewed by future recruits.

But as we all know, there are no ethics in big-time sports anymore. Forget about Alabama law and what the police said. Here's a flagship state college in the Deep South, its fans, alums and students always so quick to preach common sense, respect for others, family values and hard work, yet where is ANY outrage or shame here?


Excellent points all around, and while there are some conflicting stories about what Miller did and did not do and knew and did not know, most of my questions are like yours and directed to Alabama leadership, from Oates on up.

That said: There are a lot of folks saying, "Well, the gun was in the car, and Miller didn't know it was there."

OK, maybe so. But if your buddy was comfortable enough to leave a loaded gun in the backseat of your car, what the heck else are you dudes doing in your free time, you know?

I do know this, though: If it has not been done, some media outlet in Alabama needs to flood the athletic department and the registrar with Freedom of Information Acts for Oates' phone, email and texts from Jan. 15 through Tuesday. As well as AD Greg Byrnes and the folks they answer to as well.

The other part -- and I think someone mentioned it here or on social media -- that has jumped out at me is that Byrne said he wanted to make every effort to make sure Miller was not treated differently because he was an athlete.

PUH-lease. Miller is only still at Alabama because he is not only an athlete, but because he's a super-duper-star athlete.

There is hypocrisy across all of the major college sports, so Alabama is not an island in that stream. But to pretend Miller's ability to play basketball as well or better than anyone who has ever set foot in an Alabama classroom has not impacted this is downright laughable. And dishonest.

And sadly, JB, you are 100% right. Life is entirely too cheap these days.

From Pete

Someone asked why would #24 (Brandon Miller) go to Bama. Then answered with "money." Miller's father played football at Bama. Does legacy still impact recruiting decisions?


Fair question, and this offers a fact I was unaware of, too, that Miller's dad played for Gene Stallings at Alabama. (Side note: Paschall was completely aware and passed it along before lunch the other day because if it happened on a football in the SEC, Paschall is aware of it.)

Yes, legacy still matters, but nowhere near as much as the coin involved. And now with NIL, I'm sure Brandon Miller was paid and paid well to go to his dad's alma mater.

Heck, my kids are Auburn fans, which, considering the torture and angst that will cause them in their sports fandom for the rest of their lives, is terrible parenting -- and borderline child abuse -- on my part.

From Spy

Ya know, props to Bill Maher. He's one of the few liberals who will actually sit and listen to a conservative and engage in a healthy debate, rather than sit there with the "how dare you see the world that way!" approach, a la Keith Olbermann, who frankly, must be one of the most unlikable people of all time. There is a ton of sanctimony and self-righteousness on both sides, but it seems the more progressive folks embrace it and relish it more.


Well said, my friend.

In fact, you get the final word today. Well, other than, have a great weekend, friends.