NEW YORK, N.Y.- Millionaires fighting billionaires. Most of us just roll our eyes as we’d all love to have those problems. When the haggling of money occurs in the arena of sports, we usually side with the billionaire owners and want the player to sign a deal quickly in order to get back on the field. The stakes, though, are very different in this feud. Players want a reasonable salary for 2020 while the owners are desperate to stop hemorrhaging cash. Baseball’s long-term future is very much in peril if a deal isn’t reached. While we normally side with ownership when contract disputes arise, there are a few reasons why it’s time we flip our allegiance to the players side and root for them to get properly compensated for the risk they are taking in resuming play.
In this pandemic, it’s not unreasonable and almost mandatory that sacrifices be made by everyone. Baseball is no different. The players have already done their share of sacrificing as back in March, the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to prorate their salary commensurate to the number of games played. Owners are now asking the players to take a second pay cut because of the fact that most likely, no fans will be allowed stadiums at all during this shortened season. It’s tough to criticize and fault the players for not wanting another salary reduction because the owners misjudged the climate in which games would be played and now are frantically trying to hold onto every dollar they have. Why should the players have to pay for a miscalculation by the owners?
The form of the pay cut is also very controversial because it would come in the form of a 50/50 split of the 2020 revenue between the owners and players, a practice never before enforced. The players association, as they should, strongly disagrees with this proposal because it would serve as a de facto salary cap, as baseball is the only of the four major sports without one. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark had some strong words when speaking to The Athletic last Monday about the idea of a 50/50 split.
“A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period,” Clark said. “That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past – and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days – suggests they know exactly how this will be received.”
From the players perspective, it’s tough to trust the owners to act in good faith. They’ve accused them in the past of colluding together to suppress wages and destroy the free agent market. Now with the CBA set to expire after the 2021 season, the players worry that their leverage could be lost if they cave and agree to a second pay reduction. This agreement could have devastating impacts that last a lot longer than just this season.
The risk the players are taking by stepping onto the field in the midst of a pandemic is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Without a vaccine available, there’s still a chance of infection despite the numerous precautions the league office is taking. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell’s viral rant brought to light how divisive this proposal is to the players. Snell was speaking on his personal Twitch stream last week when he let loose on why taking another pay cut was not an option.
“The risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?” Snell said. “If I’m gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I’m getting paid because the season’s cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that’s already there — so I’m really getting, like, 25%.”
He’s right. After all, the owners aren’t the ones out on the field risking their health to play the game. It’s a matter of when a player will contract the virus, not if, so why should the players be exposed as well as have their pay significantly slashed? The risk versus reward debate right now is an easy one because the players are facing a health risk while getting compensated very poorly. The scales have to be tipped in favor of the reward far outweighing the risks involved, a balance that at the moment favors the risk being too high. There needs to be some sort of incentive because right now, all of the signs point to it not making a whole lot of sense for players to return to the field this season.
Snell isn’t alone in this thinking, as some of baseball’s superstars came out to defends the Rays pitcher. Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is glad those comments were put out in the open.
“He ain’t lying, he’s speaking the truth bro,” Harper told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Somebody’s gotta say it, at least he manned up and said it.”
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado also chimed in and backed up Snell when talking with The Athletic.
“He made a lot of good points,” Arenado said. “A lot of it gets misperceived. Trying to get the public to understand us, it’s not going to work very well in our favor…”
Arenado brings up a very important point that can’t be lost in this entire battle. With the owners floating out the 50/50 revenue split idea, this public frustration from the labor is exactly what they wanted. Social media was buzzing with tons of “Just get out there and play” takes after Snell’s rant went viral. Let’s also not forget what the players are actually asking for. They aren’t demanding a pay raise, but instead just asking to keep their already halved salary. It’s easy for the public to get frustrated about millionaires complaining about salary, but you can’t overlook the billionaires selfishly trying to keep their pockets filled.
Looking at the landscape of the country right now, there’s a serious void that we are so used to sports filling. If the NBA and NHL can’t or choose not to return, baseball will be at the forefront of the nation. This is a unique opportunity that could allow baseball to jump back into national relevancy and with that increased attention, allow owners to make up for lost revenue in this pandemic stricken season. MLB has the chance to be the first and quite possibly the only league to return for a long time.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has focused a lot of his efforts on changing the game to make it more appealing to the younger audience. There’s no better way to bring new fans in than being the main sport played during an otherwise bleak time in history. The short-term losses could be made up down the line by tapping into a fanbase that baseball has never had access to before. The growth of the sport will increase stadium and television revenues, creating a new stable stream of money coming in. Considering the potential loss of four-billion-dollars if baseball isn’t played in 2020, it’s advantageous for the owners to cater to the needs of the players.
If anything, the coronavirus has put us all on the same playing field. No matter the job we have or the industry we work in, we’re all inconvenienced and more importantly, we’re all in this together. We’ve sacrificed and now hope springs eternal that the summer can bring about some semblance of normalcy. Part of that return to normalcy is watching baseball on the television every night. In a time when we’re all sacrificing for the greater good, baseball needs to do the same. The players have made their sacrifice. It’s time for the owners to make theirs.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- The sun shone bright on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon, the perfect setting for what was supposed to be a celebration of the start of the Major League Baseball season. Instead, the perfect day for baseball was more of a tease. A “what could have been” if the world wasn’t ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. There is hope, though, that a baseball season will be played in 2020, either as normal or as close to normal as possible given the circumstances. The big question from a baseball perspective is how will the season play out if and when play resumes?
There have already been some intriguing suggestions,
including holding the World Series during Christmas and seven-inning
doubleheaders. Those suggestions can’t be implemented before the most basic
question is answered: how many games will be played? 162? 125? 81? All of these
suggestions and questions circle around the sport, as a solution can only be
thought about once the world can return to some sort of normality. With that
said though, let’s have some fun and discuss the best way MLB and commissioner
Rob Manfred can go about scheduling their season that would be beneficial for
Major League Baseball is still hoping for the season to kick off in early June, as Manfred spoke with Scott Van Pelt earlier this week and hoped that spring training can resume again in early May, setting the stage for a June start. So, the start date I am going to use here is June 1st. The season would start as scheduled for that day, as every team’s current opponent for the first day of June would be their Opening Day opposition. By picking up the schedule from that point, many exciting matchups are still preserved, including: Red Sox-Cubs, Astros-Nationals, Yankees-White Sox at the Field of Dreams and Red Sox-Orioles in Williamsport.
I would institute doubleheaders every other Sunday, so extra
games are fit in while not draining the players. Many teams and players have
expressed the want to play as many games as possible, as Rockies manager Bud
Black supported the idea of doubleheaders every week and Blue Jays general
manager Ross Atkins is in favor of seven-inning doubleheaders to ease the toll
on the players while still squeezing in as many games as possible. Let’s not
forget, the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Despite the shortened
season days wise, trying to fit a grueling schedule into a shorter time period
will only wear down players and cause more injuries and sloppy play. The extra
game every other week helps to give players, and more importantly pitchers, a
chance to recover while still making up for lost time.
I would also extend the end of the season two extra weeks,
moving the end of the regular season from September 27th to October
11th. This will allow for the addition of roughly 13 games, so teams
can get as close to the 162-game schedule as possible. All-Star week would also
be pushed back from July to August, so Los Angeles will still get to host the event
and players will have enough time to prove their worthiness of an All-Star nod.
All of these conditions add up to the playing of 126 games from June 1st through early October. That equates to about 77% of the season being played, which is just behind the NBA’s rough estimate of 80% of their schedule being completed for some teams. With both the NBA and NHL considering going right to the playoffs if play resumes, my schedule proposal would put MLB in the same spot in terms of the percent of their regular season completed.
The playoffs are where it gets a little interesting. Pushing
the season back an extra two weeks should still allow teams in bad weather
cities to host playoff games in their home ballparks. There have been proposals
and discussions of neutral site playoff games, with agent Scott Boras wanting
the entire playoffs and World Series to be played at neutral sites. With so
much baseball already taken away from fans, my scheduling goal is to allow
teams that play in cold weather cities to still be able to host playoff games to
reward their fans. After all, playoff baseball’s allure is due in part to the
raucous environments that the fans provide, as anticipation is palpable on
every single pitch.
I would still keep the World Series format the same, as the
team with the better record will get home field advantage. I would try my
hardest to keep the World Series in the cities that are playing in them because
air travel might not return to normal by November and with so many companies laying
off employees, fans might not be able to afford to fly to a neutral site to
watch their team. A contingency plan would be put in place to have a few
different stadiums on call to host the World Series if the weather doesn’t
allow for playing in a certain city, but that would be the last resort. Currently,
there are options being floated around like expanding the postseason and moving
the World Series to a neutral site, options that make sense from a financial
perspective to make up for lost revenue but ideas that I would stay away from
because they take even more baseball away from the fans and dampen the playoff
This is obviously an unprecedented situation not just in
sports, but in the world. MLB has done a good job so far in recognizing this
and have entertained many different ways for how baseball could get their season
on track. Trying to play 162 games is unrealistic at this point, which is why 126
games is Major League Baseball’s best way to get the most out of a shortened
season while also keeping the schedule as normal as possible. That last phrase
is critical, because in these times of uncertainty, a sense of normality is the
biggest thing that fans need right now.
So since all sports have wisely shit themselves and postponed
their seasons, we have a bunch of topics to discuss that really avoid attention
once the regular seasons begin. I’m going to touch on as many as time permits,
but I plan on starting with the most important one:
It’s time to put Pete Rose in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I can go over his resume, for those that are young and not
too familiar with the guy nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” because he’s always play
hard, even down to running out his walks. In fact, let me point out a few
highlights of a 24 year career:
7x led league in hits
5x led league in doubles
4x led league in runs
3x led league in batting average
2x led league in on base percentage
ALL TIME LEADER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FOR:
Games played (3652)
Plate Appearances (15890)
At Bats (14053)
So you might be saying- all time leader in hits AND plate
appearances? Sounds like a compiler. I can see why you’d say that. But it’s not
common for a compiler to do the following:
Rookie of the Year
17x all star
A Silver Slugger at age 40
13x top ten in batting average
An All Star at 3rd base, 2nd base, 1st base, left field, and right field. Wow.
2 gold gloves as an outfielder, then switched to being an infielder
Career .321 hitter in the postseason
World Series MVP in 1975 for an on base percentage of .485 WITHOUT using a garbage can
MVP votes in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s
3 World Series in 6 appearances
Nobody is getting more hits. OK, some would make that the
point that Ichiro had more hits. But we have to be fair- Ichiro played a large
part of his career facing pitching that is subpar to MLB. In American baseball?
Ichiro was not a productive player after age 36. He only hit better than .280
twice over his final NINE seasons. Rose? Over his final 9 seasons, he hit .300
or better three times, and added two more .280 plus seasons, including a season
where he hit .365 after a late season trade. At 43. At age 43? Ichiro managed
59 more career hits. Rose? 262. Rose had a batting of .262 in his last 3
seasons to Ichiros 241, except Rose managed 1016 at bats over those 3 years to
I’m not picking on Ichiro. He is a Baseball Hall of Famer.
But so is Pete Rose.
Here are players Baseball Reference compare careerwise to
NINE of those guys are hall of famers. Ty Cobb was an asshole, even for his day. And he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Damon’s name is interesting on that list, and may be a discussion on day about does Johnny Damon belong in Cooperstown. My opinion? Close…but no cigar.
Now, we all know the reason Rose isn’t in the Baseball Hall
of Fame- he gambled on baseball, and then lied about it.
OF COURSE he lied about it. It wasn’t allowed. But…it wasn’t
performance enhancing, either. And there is NO evidence that Rose ever bet
AGAINST his team….which is extremely arrogant. He just expected to win every
time he bet? Which you could argue is an attempt at compensation for a guy
ending a career with one $1 million payday in 1986- the only season where he
had a 7 figure income- whereas many other players were making millions a season
around him that accomplished a lot less. He may have been bitter over not being
part of the money era, which only got crazier in later years.
But to ban a guy forever over an issue that wasn’t cheating?
Today, baseball lets gambling happen. Rose was a pioneer, not a martyr.
Yes, he lied about his involvement. Sometimes lying is an expected
behavior. It’s probably why baseball included a clause for reinstatement in
Rose’s ban. Look, in the last two impeachments of presidents? One lied about
getting a blow job. One lied about a pandemic. They’ll still both have
presidential libraries, both likely filled with issues of Playboy.
And as far MLB’s hard stand on Rose? Rose’s name is already
in the Hall of Fame, in case you have never visited. There’s a list of hit
leaders in baseball- Rose is at the top of the list. There’s Reds and Phillies
memorabilia from their championship teams. The Cincinnati Reds inducted Rose
into their team Hall of Fame. The Phillies almost did the same in 2017 until 1970
called an alleged Me Too into the Age of Unreason, where the good of the many
is apparently outweighed by the allegation of just one person from 50 years
Companies have policies where they hang individuals out to
dry, like Apple did with Steve jobs or some editor did to Walt Disney because
his cartoons sucked. Both of those guys ended up having names and careers
bigger than their industry. Today, people have a stroke over a guy with 3000
career hits. It’s a benchmark that just about guarantees entry into the
Baseball Hall of Fame. So what if a guy had, 30% more than that? Rose’s name is
like Jobs or Disney- iconic in their field.
And baseball? After the bungling of the Houston Astros cheating
like a bunch of scumbags scandal? You have no legs to stand on when it comes to
morals. Sure, you’ll ban chewing tobacco, but you won’t ban gambling. Unless it
happened before you figured out how to profit off of it, right? So its time to
get off of your not so high horse and do something that’s right for the fans,
and for the game.
We aren’t asking a guy that cheated on the field to get in.
Shit, that won’t even get you suspended. But to ban a guy forever for what you
presently do? You’re showing your true colors as a sport, and those colors are
all just green in the end.
Friday was again not a good day for the Yankees, as the team found out the problem that’s been bugging their face of the franchise. It was revealed that Aaron Judge’s injury is a stress fracture in his rib that he suffered back in September at Yankee Stadium on a diving play in the outfield against the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Aaron Boone said they will shut down Judge for two weeks, and then reevaluate him. While the Yankees will certainly hope for the best, Boone did not rule out Judge getting surgery.
Judge’s rib injury is the latest in a slew of injuries over the course of Spring Training for New York with little over two weeks to go until the start of the regular season. Along with Judge, the Yankees will not have Giancarlo Stanton for opening day and maybe a bit longer with a grade 1 calf strain, Aaron Hicks won’t be back until August off of Tommy John surgery, Luis Severino will miss the whole year due to Tommy John, and James Paxton will be out the first few months of the season after getting back surgery. All these injuries are reminding the Yankees faithful of the 2019 campaign.
Last year, the Yankees lost Judge and Luke Voit for a few months, Stanton, Hicks, and Severino for most of the season, Miguel Andujar missed the rest of the year after undergoing shoulder surgery, Dellin Betances pitched one game in September coming off a bone spur but tore his Achilles during that outing, Didi Gregorius was out until June after he had to get Tommy John surgery in the offseason, and New York signed Troy Tulowitzki to a one-year deal but he only played five games before suffering a calf strain and subsequently retiring after being placed on the 60-day injured list. Through it all, the Yankees persevered and still won 103 games in 2019 and winning the AL East by seven games over the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks in part to guys such as Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman, and Gio Urshela stepping up.
A lot of questions were asked about Boone as a manager when New York first hired him, but he answered those questions after doing a fantastic job in 2019 by leading the Yankees to the American League Championship series, and you could certainly make the case he should’ve won AL Manager of the Year. Now, Boone and the Yankees will have to do a repeat of that performance from a year ago.
With the talent and depth the Yankees have on the roster, they have the capability to overcome these injuries again. On offense, the team still has Gary Sanchez, a returning Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela and Voit to be big contributors with the absence of Stanton, Judge, and Hicks. Torres continued to develop into a real good player in 2019, LeMahieu had an MVP caliber season, and Urshela stepped up big in the absence of Andujar. New York will also have to count on Tauchman and Ford again. The biggest factor in all of this might fall on the starting pitching staff.
The Yankees starting pitching in 2020 was expected to be one of the best in baseball and it looked to be the kind of rotation Brian Cashman had been looking for to win another World Series, especially with the prized signing of Gerrit Cole. With Severino out for the year, and Paxton out for the first part of the season, there are two spots open in the rotation for guys like Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Losiaga to step up. For Cole, the onus now falls even more on him to live up to his massive contract the Yankees gave him. The pressure is really on J.A. Happ now to have a bounce back season. The Yankees can always at least count on Masahiro Tanaka to give solid outings when he takes the mound. The Yankees have shown they are in the market for help in the rotation by calling the New York Mets about Steven Matz, but the Mets asked for Andujar in return to which the Yankees declined.
In the AL East, the Rays look to be the only threat to the Yankees with the Boston Red Sox in transition, the Toronto Blue Jays still being young and developing, and the Baltimore Orioles in the midst of a big rebuild and being one of the worst teams in baseball. The Rays won 96 games last year and had a golden opportunity to take advantage of the Yankees injury woes and win the division, but the New York kept persevering and ended up going 12-7 against Tampa Bay in 2019. With the injuries hurting the Yankees again, the Rays have another chance to gain an early lead in the division.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility the Yankees overcome these injuries again and continue to win because of the roster they’ve built. It is, however, extremely hard to repeat that performance and count on guys like Tauchman to contribute in a big way again. Just like last year, Boone has his work cut out for him, and he’s going to have to work his same magic again.
The New York Mets can be an odd franchise to figure out. Heading into 2019, the team had high hopes after having an offseason filled with new faces led by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Signing free agents such as catcher Wilson Ramos, relief pitchers Justin Wilson and Jeurys Familia, as well as bringing in J.D. Davis. Brodie’s most notable move was trading away Anthony Swarzak, Jay Bruce, Gerson Bautista, and highly touted prospects Justin Dunn and Jared Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Diaz was the prized acquisition of the two after he saved 109 games for Seattle in three years there, but things went to disaster in a hurry.
Diaz started off fine with the Mets through the first month of the season, showing why the Mets acquired him and displaying his talents to the Citi Field faithful by getting eight saves through his first twelve appearances. On April 29th however against the Cincinnati Reds, things went to a downward spiral for the former AL All-Star as he gave up a go-ahead home run in a tie game to Jesse Winker as the Reds won 5-4 at Citi Field. From there, Diaz could never replicate his early April success.
Diaz ended up going 2-7 out of the pen, with a 5.59 ERA in 66 games, blowing seven saves in the process. Diaz was a main factor in the Mets bullpen being one of the worst in baseball in 2019. New York’s bullpen had a team ERA of 4.95 for a Mets team that started off poorly and was certainly on pace for a massive rebuild after the season but finished strong and almost made the playoffs with 86 wins last year. Setting things up for high expectations in 2020.
Seth Lugo, coming off a couple of stellar years in the bullpen is back, Justin Wilson had a nice year, and the Mets were able to sign free agent Dellin Betances to help the bullpen. New York is also betting on Familia to have a bounce back year after he had a terrible 2019 of his own. All eyes though will be on the much-maligned Diaz as he looks to return to his 2017 and 2018 form from Seattle. Diaz is the key to the Mets this year.
Even with a great starting rotation and a good lineup, if Diaz struggles yet again, the Mets could be in trouble. Lugo has stepped up as a closer before, but Betances is just coming off missing an entire year due to injury, and as mentioned before Familia and guys like Robert Gsellman are looking for bounce back years to. The Mets bullpen derailed any chance the team had at a 2019 playoff appearance in the end. Many are worried the bullpen will cost them yet again, but Diaz can change any worry about the entire season if he returns to his old self. The Mets need it, but most importantly, Edwin Diaz needs it.
As the New York Yankees prepare for a 2020 season that is fully expected by many to end in the teams 28th World Series championship, the team is once again being hit by the proverbial injury bug. James Paxton will be out for a few months after undergoing back surgery, and the Yankees lost Luis Severino for the year after he had to undergo Tommy John Surgery after feeling soreness in his forearm. The team is also going to be without outfielder Aaron Hicks until at least August after he underwent Tommy John surgery. Even slugger Aaron Judge is battling a shoulder injury in Spring Training. However, one injury to another slugger has got many talking, especially after his 2019 season became a lost one.
Giancarlo Stanton has become a polarizing name in New York, and the news of his grade 1 calf strain certainly became a topic of discussion after last seasons slew of shoulder and knee injuries limited him to just 18 games in 2019. This latest injury to his calf is expected to keep him out for opening day and maybe a little longer than that. As soon as this injury was announced, the name Jacoby Ellsbury was brought up a lot by Yankees fans to compare the current situation with Stanton. Ellsbury was even trending on social media. Another thing that was also brought up was why the Yankees never should’ve made the trade for Stanton in the first place. The talk of how he’s been underwhelming at best for the Yankees and has become injury prone, and instead of making the trade, general manager Brian Cashman should’ve saved up to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado instead of acquiring Stanton the year before. However, that certainly wasn’t the discussion when the deal happened, and I don’t think you can question that deal even three years later.
When the Yankees made the deal for Stanton, they essentially acquired a salary dump from the Miami Marlins who were looking to get rid of Stanton’s contract, and it’s not every day a player of Stanton’s caliber is dealt in this manner. The team traded Starlin Castro, who is now with the Washington Nationals, and two minor league prospects Jose Devers, and Jorge Guzman. Starlin Castro is a good player and Devers and Guzman could turn out to have good careers in Miami, but the Yankees trading away those players for a guy who just won the 2017 NL MVP and smoked 59 home runs in 2017 was looked at as a steal. Three years later, it still is for the Yankees.
When you look at where the Yankees were heading into that offseason by coming off a surprising trip to the American League Championship series and just coming one win short of the World Series, of course Cashman would not say no at a golden chance to acquire the NL MVP for a good price and pair him up with Aaron Judge, who had just won the AL Rookie Of The Year and was second in the voting for AL MVP. Not many of us would say no either to that deal and that opportunity.
2018 was looked at as a disappointing year for Stanton, but while it would’ve been extremely hard for him to replicate his 2017 numbers, he still slugged 38 home runs and drove in 100 RBIs. He also stepped up big when the team lost Judge for two months due to a wrist injury. What really hurt Stanton was his playoff performance in 2018 as he batted .222 with six strikeouts in the American League Division series against the Boston Red Sox. Many Yankees hitters in that lineup also struggled during that series, with Judge being one of the few exceptions, but out of all of the ones that struggled, Stanton caught most of the blame.
Overall despite the criticism, Stanton put up a productive first season in the Big Apple and expectations were certainly high for year two until the injuries kept him out for most of the season. This calf strain is the latest setback of what has currently been a frustrating time for the former NL MVP. For the Yankees and Stanton, they hope to get him back as soon as possible, especially with the list of injuries the team already has. Still, the Yankees shouldn’t regret making the deal because he has shown the them what he can do on the field. That he still is a presence in a lineup that is already outstanding. The Yankees acquired a guy who hit 267 home runs in Miami. No team would’ve said no at the chance to acquire Stanton, especially the Yankees. Even if Stanton ends up not living up to the acquisition, it was still a chance worth taking for New York. Who knows, maybe in the end, he’s responsible for the Yankees winning their 28th championship.