"(Lance) Niekro, who as recently as 2006 was vying to become the Giants' everyday first baseman, is exiting a brief retirement from baseball and will attempt a comeback at age 30 as a right-handed knuckleball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.A lot of knuckleballers — Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield, Don Robinson, just to name two — started out as position players in the minors. It goes without saying it has not happened with someone who actually made it to the majors.
"The Braves have signed Niekro to a minor-league contract and will bring him to spring training to see if he can extend the legacy of his late father Joe and Uncle Phil and make his living floating baseballs to major-league hitters." — San Francisco Chronicle
One hopes the younger Niekro pulls this off, on account of it being a neat story and, one can only assume, it might make him feel closer to his late father, who threw a pretty mean knuckler in his day.
Baseball in China
The National (the daily in the UAE) has an in-depth look about how baseball hasn't really caught on in China, even though MLB is desperate to find a "Yao Ming of baseball." The odds are, with a population of 1 billion people, they will find one and the sport still won't be popular.
This, that and the other
- Walkoff Walk pretty much nailed fallout from Atlanta losing Rafael Furcal to the Dodgers:
"Or if you want a more apt metaphor, the Braves are in danger of becoming the N.L. East's version of the Blue Jays, a team with a good young pitching staff, an above-average defense, and absolutely no pop in their bat whatsoever, perpetually stuck playing catch-up with two high-profile, high payroll teams and an upstart Florida team, and only content knowing they'll never fall behind a crappy last place mid-Atlantic franchise. Of course, in this metaphor, the Mets are the Yankees of the N.L. East and that's simply laughable.
- The U.S. government's steroids witch-hunt might have hit a snag in the court system.
- Arizona Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb, like Roy Halladay, is passing on the World Baseball Classic. He obviously noticed that he wore down in the final months
- Headline of the day: "Yankees make offer to Manny purple monkey dishwasher." Well done, River Ave. Blues.