Listen, we know it's tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn't easy. It's okay, though, we're going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
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The sky is bluer, the air is sweeter, and the angry throng of holiday shoppers seems a little less threatening. Why? Fox has given Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci the boot from the baseball broadcast booth. This is excellent news for any person who watches baseball and has ears, since Reynolds (and Verducci to a lesser extent) has been stinking up the airwaves during baseball’s most significant games for two years now. The pair joined Joe Buck in the booth after Tim McCarver retired at the end of the 2013 World Series. Verducci’s contributions were often hacky and smarmy, and Reynolds' color commentary was at best, simple, and at worst, completely and totally wrong.
While Fox blew their first post-McCarver opportunity to improve the quality of their World Series broadcasts, their second try is much closer to the mark. They’re ditching the three-man booth and hiring one man, former Braves pitcher and recent Hall of Fame inductee John Smoltz, to replace both of them. Smoltz has called games for MLB Network and is genuine, likable, and can distill the on-field action in a way many fans can enjoy. Those are valuable skills, and Fox is hoping Smoltz can bring them to World Series games.
Why did they do this? I can only assume that Fox finally heard the deafening cries of millions of baseball fans and the brain cells they’re desperately trying to save. Though perhaps it was Joe Buck himself who sparked the change, intentionally or unintentionally. At times this postseason, Buck seemed almost delighted to toss a tough question to Reynolds and watch him flail. With Smoltz in the booth, it'll hopefully seem more like a conversation between equals instead of Buck beating up on someone he can't stand. And there's no way that fans won't benefit from that.
- The Cardinals have signed their fifth- or sixth-choice free agent pitcher, Mike "Don’t call me a consolation prize" Leake to a five-year, $80 million contract. Take that, Cubs! *trips over own feet*
- The Mets have signed someone to platoon with Juan Lagares in centerfield, though surprisingly it’s Alejandro De Aza and not someone who played center more than once in 2015.
- The free agent class of 2018-19, which could include Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Fernandez, Manny Machado and even more, could be one of the most amazing ever assembled. But the Yankees shouldn’t wait around for the day those players become available.
- Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington is looking for a first baseman who sounds exactly like James Loney, which is good news for the Rays because they happen to have a James Loney to spare.
- Former Red Sox, Pirates and Giants infielder Freddy Sanchez filed his paperwork to officially retire from major league baseball, surprising everyone who thought he retired four years ago when he played his last MLB game.
- With the Brandon Phillips deal with the Nationals falling apart, the Reds are running out of players to trade, unless they consider moving franchise superstar Joey Votto. What until recently seemed unthinkable is now something the flailing franchise should probably consider.
- The Phillies are in the middle of a rebuild, which Buster Olney seems to think is tanking. Not everyone agrees!
- The shift has changed a lot of things in baseball (not just Ryan Howard’s effectiveness), and Lindsay Berra theorizes that the official scoring of shifts could change someday as well.
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Reviewing 2015: It was just a great f**king year in sports
For more Nuff Said, check out SB Nation's Nuff Said playlist on YouTube, which includes Matt Ufford's takes on the Sportsman of the Year and the NFL's terrible catch rules. While you're there, be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel and look around our archives to watch Matt's Westminster Dog Show petting challenge.