Thursday, June 18, 2020

What will need to happen for the MLB season to start?

From the Associated Press


          The NBA and NHL have a plan to return to action, after the season shut down with about a month left before the playoffs. Due to the fact that they wouldn't want to completely waste a season, there was some urgency to return. But, even though losing the playoffs would have been a huge revenue hit, the leagues would have been fine if next season was when games picked back up. However, they were able to come up with an agreement fairly quickly, and are in a safe spot right now. Major League Baseball has everything to lose. Their season was weeks away from starting when sports died, and the negotiations from MLB and the MLBPA will go on for longer than the figurative season itself. It is getting to the point where these negotiations feel more like labor negotiations over a new CBA rather than about a public health crisis. Commissioner Rob Manfred was already looking bad prior to the shutdown, but has put himself in a worse spot to the public eye, especially in the last week.

           Since being named Commissioner in late January of 2015, Manfred has dealt with many unpopular issues. Many new rules have been put in place regarding the pace of play, including limiting mound visits. A playoff proposal from early February led to players being unhappy with Manfred, most notably Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Didi Gregorius of the Phillies. The handling of the Astros sign-stealing investigation (more specifically the lack of a major punishment in the eyes of opponents) was also a sour point in Manfred's tenure. But the last months have been ridiculous, and when it seems like we have a deal, everything gets blown up again. The last few weeks have been pretty simple: the owners submit a terrible proposal, the players counter-proposal is similar, but the owners still hate it, and come up with something better than their original, but has very few games. The players just raise the amount of games played, the league hates it and we are back to square one. This is best shown by former MVP and Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who has tweeted three separate times in a span of five days "lol", starting on June 8th. Talks seemed to heat up after Manfred guaranteed something then very quickly went back on that comment. On Wednesday, the night of the MLB Draft, Manfred said that “I can tell you unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year …. 100%.” That didn't age well, as in an ESPN article from Monday, he said that "I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% certain that’s gonna happen.” This led to a "tell us when and where" campaign by the players, and now more intense negotiations.

               Congratulations, you are now caught up. During the recent negotiations, ideas have been brought up that will make traditionalists have a heart attack, even worse than Player's Weekend (the AUDACITY that they have to wear green cleats).

               The one change that they could probably wrap their heads around is an expanded playoffs for 2020 and 2021 (to help make back revenue, especially if next year is delayed). A 16 team playoffs will be weird, although the NBA and NHL have had it. Over half the teams in the league will be in the playoffs, but if it helps bring back baseball, then I am all for it. This really helps teams that always seem to just miss the playoffs, like the rest of the AL West (not including the Astros), the Mets and Phillies, Diamondbacks and one of the Cubs-Cardinals-Brewers group. However, I wouldn't like to see this for more than a year or two, as stretching out the playoffs after a really long season isn't a great idea.

                  I have a very similar attitude towards the next issue, corporate sponsorships on team jerseys. People made a big deal about Nike's swoosh on the front of uniforms they made months ago, so seeing Subway and Honda join them would definitely cause a fit. I personally don't love the idea, but once again, if it is temporary and is just there to help teams financially recover for a loss this year, than it is fine. The only rule should be to not allow political campaigns as advertisements*. The NBA has had this for a couple of years and people are no longer caring about it.

                 The last element of the proposal is something that if it happens, will be here to stay. The universal DH has been something that the league has been wanting to implement for years. Your stance on this likely belongs on your favorite team, as American League fans are supportive of a change, unlike National League backers. I personally think that the universal DH should happen. National League teams have been kept from many consistent 30-40 home run hitters like Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz for years because they mainly are DHs. There probably have been pitchers that have intentionally chose AL teams in free agency because they didn't want to go to the NL and hit. Shohei Ohtani could be a generational talent, and was pretty much required to go to the AL due to his lack of defensive training and skill. Finally, pitchers known as "great hitters" aren't actually even good hitters. This is best shown in Madison "Mason Saunders" Bumgarner, who went eight-for-63 (.127 average) with a .458 OPS and two home runs last year. Even Michael Lorenzen, the Reds' reliever and outfielder, had a measly .596 OPS in 2019. The days of hitting pitchers has to go, and this is a perfect opportunity for that.


*Of course, Class President campaigns are excluded from this.

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