There’s a three-year waiting period for players who are selected for the Hall of Fame.

I’ve always viewed it as a mandatory cooling-off period to create a little distance between the end of their career and enshrinement. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not saying that three years after Bettman relinquishes the commissionership, the hockey world will all of a sudden start penning valentines to the guy. But at the very least, his selection wouldn’t be made under the cloud of a lawsuit from ex-players, pending labor strife and all the other problems that would no longer be in his purview as a private citizen.

Rocky Balboa Award: This is the team whose title odds have jumped the most from Opening Day. It’s different from the change in win forecast because it’s more of a knockout game. The winner is … the Houston Astros. There’s a certain amount of randomness built into the simulation model to capture the likelihood of breakouts, collapses and such. The Astros were my preseason favorite, with a 19 percent shot of repeating as champions. That rate is up to 32 percent. Houston is currently winning an average of 107 games in the model. The Astros are good.

From Nolan Ryan to King Felix to, well, more Nolan Ryan, we look at the best gem ever thrown by each franchise and try to predict who could top it.

Sick of seeing pitchers hit? Love NL strategy? Either way, the argument is good for baseball. Plus, a Jeff Luhnow Q&A and Verlander’s next milestone.

The first half of the season has gone as expected and has been completely surprising. It’s been thrilling, and it’s been staid. It’s been heartening and disappointing. It’s been just another season — unlike any before it, but somehow very much familiar.

It feels like there has been more chatter than usual about the state of baseball, with attendance down and debates over tweaks to the game popping up almost daily. The drop in attendance is real, though the theories about it are not. The fact is, we don’t know why attendance is down. We suspect the likely factors — the weather, the stratification of the leagues, the lack of action generated from balls in play — but we don’t really know what is behind the slowly clicking turnstiles. We also don’t know if it’s a trend or a blip.

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