Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young Don’t Even Know the Rules of Baseball

Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young Don’t Even Know the Rules of Baseball

The Phillies have Ben Revere on second base and no outs when Michael Young hits a shot to Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who is playing at normal depth. On the pitch, Revere attempts to steal third and is hit by the batted ball while sliding into the base. Even though Revere was on third base when struck by the batted ball, he should be called out because he interfered with Frazier and kept him from making a play. True or false?

There is a seven in ten chance Michael Young did not know the answer to this hypothetical question.

Young was one of the low scorers on Jayson Stark’s MLB rules quiz, a social experiment of sorts. How well do Major League players, managers, and coaches know the rules really?

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill situations, either. The quiz, presented to 20 players and five managers/coaches, presents 10 true-false questions involving unusual and in some cases practically unimaginable scenarios. The example above is probably among the most likely to occur, and when’s the last time you’ve seen that?

Jimmy Rollins scored a 4. Young scored a 3, tied for worst among players with Tampa Bay’s Sam Fuld. To put that in perspective, Chad Durbin did better than both of them with a 5. Afterwards, the Phillies third baseman tried to explain his ineptitude:

"I used to think I knew the rules," Young said. "But over time, I began to learn I didn't know them as well as I thought. One time in a game, they called the infield fly rule, and I wasn't sure why. So afterward, I went over to the ump and said, 'Don't ever tell anybody I said this, but what's that rule again?'"

To be fair, the quiz stumped a lot of folks. Only one person aced it, Arizona’s Brad Ziegler. A handful of guys got 8 or 9, but overwhelmingly the scores were 6 or worse.

Think you can do better? ESPN.com has the quiz online here, and it’s an enjoyable way to waste a few minutes and prove how smart you are/little you know. Stark’s thesis paper column is also worth a read. Very original, fun piece.

>> Quiz: Do you know MLB rules?
>> How well do we know baseball’s rules? [ESPN]

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

Phillies sign OF Daniel Nava, LHP Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts

The Phillies made a couple quiet additions as the winter meetings ended, signing veteran outfielder Daniel Nava and lefty reliever Sean Burnett to minor-league contracts.

Nava, 34 in February, is a left-handed hitter who can play the outfield corners and first base. He came up with the Red Sox and became a fan favorite in Boston in 2010 as a 27-year-old rookie. Some Phillies fans will remember him for hitting a grand slam off Joe Blanton in his first major-league plate appearance.

Nava had a few decent years in Boston, the best of which was 2013, when he had 536 plate appearances and hit .303/.385/.445 with 29 doubles, 12 homers and 66 RBIs. 

Nava's numbers and opportunities have dropped every year since. He was designated for assignment by Boston in 2015, latched on with the Rays, signed the next year with the Angels and was traded late in the season to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons, Nava has hit just .208, albeit with an on-base percentage 99 points higher because of his 30 walks and 10 hit by pitches.

Burnett, 34, has spent five of the last seven seasons in the Nationals' bullpen. He had a 2.85 ERA in 283 appearances from 2009-12 and parlayed that success into a two-year, $7.25 million contract with the Angels. However, he barely pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Halos because of an elbow tear. He returned to the Nats last season and allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings.

Burnett, perhaps more so than Nava, has a chance to fill a role with the Phillies if he can stay healthy. He's shown he can get outs at the highest level, posting a 2.38 ERA in 2012 with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 in 2010. That was a long time ago now, and Burnett's fastball has dipped from averaging 90-91 mph to 88.

According to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith, Burnett will receive a $1.25 million salary if he makes the team and can earn another $1.75 million in incentives based on his number of appearances.

Burnett has an opt-out date of March 26, meaning he can become a free agent a week before the regular season begins if it looks to him like he isn't in the Phils' plans.

Nava's chances at cracking the opening-day roster seem longer because the Phillies are expected to make more depth signings between now and the start of camp. They've prioritized finding some offense in the corner outfield and that could come in the form of more minor-league deals, a guaranteed contract or trade. One potential fit I examined last week was Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, a hitter more proven than Nava (see story).

These minor-league deals were commonplace for Phillies general manager Matt Klentak last offseason, when the only free agent he signed to a major-league deal was reliever David Hernandez. 

Last season, three players who were signed to minor-league deals with invites to spring training made the team on opening day: outfielder Cedric Hunter, utilityman Emmanuel Burriss and reliever James Russell.

Others, such as former closers Edward Mujica, Ernesto Frieri and Andrew Bailey, failed to make the team out of camp. Bailey eventually earned a call-up; the other two didn't.

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixer Lou Williams lighting it up with Lakers off the bench

Former Sixers point guard and Meek Mill collaborator Lou Williams is enjoying quite the run off the bench for the Lakers recently.

Over Los Angeles' last four games, Williams has posted totals of 40, 38, 24, and 35 points. 

The six-man is averaging 34.5 points per game over the stretch, and his 137 points are the most off the bench in a four-game span by any player since 1970-71, when stats were first recorded, per Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN. Williams is now averaging 19.3 points this season, which is 4.4 more than his highest average with the Sixers.

Williams isn’t the only player who used to play for the Sixers that is playing well for the Lakers this year. Nick “Swaggy P” Young, who also comes off the bench, is averaging 13.3 points per game. Just a few weeks ago, Swaggy P stole a pass intended for Lou Williams, and then proceeded to hit a game winner against the Thunder. Swaggy P, however, is currently sidelined with a right calf strain, but is getting closer to a return.

"Lou Will" was also talked about last April during Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game, when he was beefing on Twitter with another former Philadelphia athlete, LeSean McCoy.