HOW SHOULD MLB SCHEDULE THEIR SEASON?

HOW SHOULD MLB SCHEDULE THEIR SEASON?

Ryan Hickey gives his thoughts on how MLB should schedule their season. Listen to The Morning Boys w/ Ryan Hickey every Monday/Thursday from 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET.

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 everyone.

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.

Image courtesy of Citi Field

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 atmosphere.

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.

Can the Yankees withstand the injury bug again in 2020?

Can the Yankees withstand the injury bug again in 2020?

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 Yankees shouldn’t regret the Giancarlo Stanton trade

The Yankees shouldn’t regret the Giancarlo Stanton trade

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.

Stars Come Out to Support Derek Jeter At His 23rd Annual Foundation Gala

Stars Come Out to Support Derek Jeter At His 23rd Annual Foundation Gala

Keith Allison / Flickr

By Rob Lep

Derek Jeter is sports royalty. A New York sports icon. Mt. Rushmore. A five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees and captain from 2003-14.

At Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan, decked out with a red carpet — athletes and celebrities came out to support Jeter and this amazing cause.

At the top of the list, New York sports legends like John Starks, John Franco, Larry Johnson, Ken Daneyko, etc.

From the Turn 2 website: “The star-studded gala celebrated Turn 2 and its work to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. The event raised more than $1 million for the Foundation’s programs that foster academic achievement, healthy lifestyles, positive behavior, social change and leadership development.

“It’s been a long time from when we started,” Jeter said. “I don’t think we could ever have sat down and say it would grow to how big it is now. It’s something my entire family is so proud of.

Keith Allison / Flickr

“It’s good to have a bond with someone like him,” Starks said. “Who has done it the right way throughout his career and right now…Derek and I are good friends. Just a class individual on and off the court.”

John Franco spent 15 seasons in Flushing with the Metropolitans. He’s a four-time All-Star and the team’s all-time franchise leader in saves. On December 6, 1989, at the age of 29, he was traded with Don Brown to the Mets for Randy Myers and Kip Gross.

Franco and Jeter developed their relationship during their careers while playing in New York at the same time.

“I’m here to support Derek and he does a tremendous job with his foundation. When Derek Jeter calls, hey ‘why not’ I’m a local guy and when a local guy does a fundraiser, it’s good to give back.”

He led the league in saves for the 1988, 1990, and 1994 seasons. He reached the postseason for the first time in 1999 and the World Series in 2000.

Not to worry, the NHL was well represented too. Ken Daneyko is a former NHL player who played his entire career with the New Jersey Devils and currently serves as an analyst for the team on MSG Networks.

“Events like this,” Danyeko said. “The great Derek Jeter who I have a lot of respect for and have known a little bit playing in close proximity in the New York-New Jersey metro area. Try to give back a little bit that you can… always fun to catch up with him. He’s a class act.”