July 9, 2020

MLB Flew 160+ Players & Staff From DR Last Week Without Testing Them; Joe West Spouts Some Trumpian Bullshit

Manfred's gonna Manfred.

Check out this headline from the Washington Post:

MLB Flew Dominican Players To The U.S. For Restart But Didn't Test Them For Coronavirus First

From Jesse Dougherty's report:
Multiple players who took one of two Major League Baseball-chartered flights from the Dominican Republic to Miami on July 1 have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. Players and staff members were not tested before boarding the planes, according to six people with knowledge of the travel logistics, lending more skepticism to baseball's restart plan. ...

[A]n MLB spokesman noted that ... tests are harder to come by in the Dominican Republic than in the United States, and he said "shipping saliva samples from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. was not possible due to governmental restrictions."

Six Washington Nationals players — Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Wander Suero, Fernando Abad, Luis Garcia and Joan Adon — were on the flights and are isolating in Washington. One tested positive for the coronavirus ... while the rest remain in quarantine out of caution. ...

MLB confirmed that there were asymptomatic players on both flights who later tested positive for the coronavirus during intake screening. ...

In a statement, an MLB spokesman said: "Testing 160 asymptomatic players in the Dominican Republic would have diverted substantial resources away from the Dominican health care system, where the availability of laboratory equipment is scarce, and would have required an exception to the country's criteria for testing, which was not something we were prepared to do."

Because team staff members were permitted on the flights, according to two people with knowledge of them, the total number of people who traveled exceeds 160. On Opening Day in 2019, 102 of MLB's 882 players were from the Dominican Republic. ...

"These guys are really frustrated by the whole thing," said one person close to a few Nationals who took the charter flight and are isolating. "And it also shows how risky the travel is all around. There's so much you can't control."
Like a commissioner who won't take basic health precautions during a pandemic.

Manfred also took offense at Nationals GM Mike Rizzo's comments after the team canceled its workout last Monday, because MLB, which had promised a 24-hour turnaround time for tests, failed to do so.

Rizzo:
We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff, and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.
Manfred reportedly "jumped on [Rizzo] for that". ... Manfred doesn't like the truth.

NBC Sports' Bill Baer:
Many foreign players traveled back home once the league shut down in March, which complicated things once they returned to the U.S. to play baseball. While it was very predictable, there wasn't an easy fix. It was either keep the players in or out. However, adding this to MLB's slipshod job handling testing in the early stages of training camp, there is merited skepticism about the league's ability to pull off a 60-game season over the next three months.
In other obvious news, umpire Joe West is an idiot.

On Tuesday, West talked about the 135,000+ US deaths from SARS-CoV-2:
Most of these people that they're reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. ... I don't believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.
Two days later, West (who has no experience in studying infectious diseases or in medical matters) sounded Trumpian, telling Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY:
Those statistics aren't accurate, I don't care who's counting them. ... Our system is so messed up they have emptied hospitals because there's no elective surgery. The government has been giving these hospitals extra money if someone dies of the coronavirus. So everybody that dies is because of coronavirus. I don't care if you get hit by a car, it's coronavirus.
Craig Calcaterra wrote:
Joe West's coronavirus "opinion" is not just ignorance. It's conspiracy theorist-level misinformation. It's also, it should be added, misinformation that Nightengale would've done well to counter after quoting West ...

For example, Nightengale could've noted that, rather than aggressively code patient deaths as coronavirus, if anything, West's home state of Florida has been underreporting coronavirus deaths. And, to say the least, there is no evidence of the insanity that West claims regarding "giving hospitals extra money."

As for elective surgeries, hospital systems in Florida have been given broad discretion with what to do about them but, in recent days, have halted them because they need the bed space for coronavirus patients. Far from being "emptied out," hospitals in Florida are filling up with people who are sick from the very disease West is dismissing as a danger.

West is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good or respected umpire. But it remains the case that his profession is one where showing good judgment is essential. Based on Joe West's coronavirus views, however, his judgment is even more blinkered than we previously realized.

UPDATE: A thing I did not realize earlier: West's citation to country singer Joe Diffie is itself a conspiracy theory that has been debunked. So West is peddling conspiracy theories on top of conspiracy theories.
The Major League Baseball Umpires Association (MLBUA) released a statement, though it did not specifically name West:
Recent public comments about the current Coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association. ... The MLBUA fully supports the health and safety protocols agreed to by MLB and the MLBPA, and we have agreed to make dramatic changes to our usual working conditions in an effort to navigate this unprecedented season.
Baer, again:
If you're a player, how comfortable will you be playing in a game in which West is working? Do you trust him to call out a player who licked his fingers or coughed into his hand before touching the baseball? Do you trust him not to get in your face when he feels you disrespected him by questioning a call?

In order for this whole thing to work, the players, coaches, umpires, and all other personnel need to have a certain level of trust in each other. Players who are high-risk, or who have high-risk family members, are relying on everyone else to make smart decisions. They're trusting their teammates, et. al. to wear masks and socially distance, to not to go out to bars and restaurants, to faithfully wash their hands. All it takes is one slip-up for things to go sideways for a player and, thus, the game. This is not a simple difference of opinion; lives and livelihoods are on the line. West, with his dismissive comments, is not engendering any trust.

Benintendi Tweaking Swing To Improve For Leadoff Role; Intrasquad Games Begin Today

Andrew Benintendi had a disappointing season in 2019, but he's worked on his swing and looks forward to leading off this year.

From 2018 to 2019, Benintendi's average dropped 24 points, his on-base was down 23 points, and his slugging was 34 points lower. In 2019, he had 46 fewer plate appearances than the year before, but struck out 34 more times (106 to 140).
I feel that my swing is in a better spot than it was leaving Spring Training back in March. ... Just trying to tweak a few little things. There's nothing major. Trying to find the right stride, trying to give myself more time to see the ball, trying to keep my bat in the zone a lot longer than what it was last year ...
The Red Sox begin playing intrasquad games today. Nathan Eovaldi pitched four innings, striking out four, while allowing one hit, one walk, and hitting one batter.

Manager Ron Roenicke says second baseman José Peraza has impressed him:
His swings are unbelievable how good they are. I thought the changes that he made in the three months that we were off really are benefiting him so far. We'll see how it works once we start these games, but in batting practice, his load is completely different. ... I know [hitting coach] Tim [Hyers] was staying in touch with him and [assistant hitting coach] Pete [Fatse] ... [E]very day I go watch him and I'm so impressed with what he's doing compared to what I saw when we were in Florida.
Xander Bogaerts is a little annoyed that various articles about potential contenders for 2020 do not include the Red Sox.
We're coming into the season as underdogs. With the lineup we have, and the team that we have [and] the roster we have, I don't understand how we're that much of an underdog. On paper, we're pretty solid. ... Obviously we know we're not the first-ranked pitching team in baseball. We have some guys. ... The lineup is pretty strong. As long as pitching keeps us in the game, we'll have a good chance.
With David Price with the Dodgers, Chris Sale recovering from surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez dealing with SARS-CoV-2, Martín Pérez's importance to the rotation has greatly increased. With the Twins last year, Pérez had a first-half ERA of 4.26, followed by a 6.27 mark in the second half.

In New York, overhyping the Yankees never goes out of style. Gerrit Cole pitched five innings in an intrasquad game the other day. He gave up one run and struck out six. The Daily News could not contain its praise, gushing that Cole looked "outta this world". An intrasquad game.

The Daily News will be calling Eovaldi's unprecedented performance today "God-like", right?

July 7, 2020

Red Sox Play 13 Of First 23 Games Against MFY & Rays

Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated) says the Red Sox are the team most likely to get off to a slow start in 2020's abbreviated season.

With each of the 30 teams playing against only the other four teams in its own division and the teams in the other league's corresponding division, the strength of schedules are wildly different.

Verducci looks at two NL Wild Card contenders as an example. The Phillies play 38 games (including 20 road games) against teams that had winning records in 2019, while the Diamondbacks will play 20 and 8 such games, respectively.

The Red Sox begin the two-month schedule with 13 of their first 23 games against the Yankees and Rays. That's more than one-third of the season (38%)!

The Yankees have the easiest schedule down the stretch, according to Verducci, with 20 of their final 23 games against the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Marlins (each of whom lost 95+ games last year).
I bought a physical (non-MLB Season Preview) copy of SI for the first time in I-Don't-Know-How-Long. The July issue includes a 23-page (!) epistolary novella entitled "Letters From The Hub", written by Verducci. He had been researching Silk O'Loughlin, an umpire who died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, during the initial months of the current pandemic, when his attention strayed to sportswriter Edward Martin.

The story is framed as a series of letters from one baseball scribe to another, but the information included, about Martin's life and Boston baseball before and during the Great War and the worldwide influenza outbreak, is true.

AL East: Best And Worst 60-Game Stretches, Last Four Seasons
                 2019            2018            2017            2016
              Best  Worst     Best  Worst     Best  Worst     Best  Worst
Red Sox      36-24  28-32    45-15  35-25    38-22  32-28    38-22  29-31
Yankees      42-18  37-23    44-16  32-28    38-22  26-34    36-24  28-32
Rays         40-20  30-30    39-21  27-33    35-25  25-35    30-30  18-42
Blue Jays    29-31  19-41    29-31  24-36    33-27  26-34    38-22  30-30
Orioles      24-36  14-46    19-41  15-45    33-27  21-39    36-24  28-32
  
Best And Worst 60-Game Stretches, Recent World Champions Seasons
         Best  Worst
2004 -  42-18  29-31
2007 -  40-20  32-28
2013 -  38-22  33-27
2018 -  45-15  35-25
  
Best 60-Game Stretches In MLB
2019 - 43-17    (Dodgers, Astros, Cleveland)
2018 - 44-16    (Red Sox, Athletics, Yankees)
2017 - 51- 9    (Dodgers)
2016 - 42-17-1  (Cubs); 42-18 (Cubs, Giants)
2015 - 43-17    (Blue Jays)
2014 - 41-19    (Angels, Orioles)
2013 - 47-13    (Dodgers)

Four Red Sox Test Positive, Including Eduardo Rodriguez and Bobby Dalbec

Four Red Sox have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2: Eduardo Rodriguez, Bobby Dalbec, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

Rodriguez had been Boston's likely Opening Day pitcher. According to MLB's guidelines, each of the four players must have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart from each another and have no fever for 72 hours before he can rejoin the team.

Rodriguez, who was likely exposed to a family member who was sick, tested positive in Florida.

Manager Ron Roenicke:
Anytime anybody is positive now, it impacts what happens at the start of the season just because of the short training camp we have. We'll see how it goes. Some guys are in their rooms and will throw balls up against a mattress or trying to do anything to keep their arm activated ... I can't tell you [Rodriguez is] not going to be ready, because it depends on how far along he is in the stages that he has the virus. ... Josh, we think, is a little further along [in recovering]. ...
Nathan Eovaldi:
It's definitely unfortunate. We wish them a fast recovery, and hopefully it's not as severe for them as it has been for certain people. ... You can do everything you can, but it's still out there.

At least 50 players have tested positive for the virus, as of Tuesday morning, July 6.

(On July 3, MLB stated 31 players had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. But when that news was announced, a majority of teams were still waiting for test results.)
AL EAST
Red Sox (4): Eduardo Rodriguez, P; Bobby Dalbec, INF; Josh Taylor, P; Darwinzon Hernandez, P
Yankees (2): DJ LeMahieu, INF; Luis Cessa, P

AL CENTRAL
Twins (4): Miguel Sano, 3B; Willians Astudillo, C; Nick Gordon, SS; Edwar Colina, P
White Sox (2): unnamed
Royals (1): Salvador Perez, C
Cleveland (1): Delino DeShields, OF
Tigers (1): Unnamed

AL WEST
Rangers (2): Joey Gallo, OF; Brett Martin, P
Astros (2): Unnamed
Mariners: "a few"

NL EAST
Phillies (7?): Unnamed (Pitcher Aaron Nola, outfielder Adam Haseley, and catcher Christian Bethancourt have not reported to camp; Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and Ranger Suarez were placed on the injured list without explanation.)
Atlanta (4): Freddie Freeman, 1B; Will Smith, P; Touki Toussaint, P; Pete Kozma, INF
Marlins (4): Unnamed
Nationals (2): Unnamed

NL CENTRAL
Cardinals (3): Ricardo Sanchez, P; Genesis Cabrera, P; Elehuris Montero, 3B
Pirates (2): Blake Cederlind, P; Socrates Brito, OF
Brewers: (2): Luis Urias, SS; Angel Perdomo, P

NL WEST
Giants (4): Luis Madero, P; Hunter Bishop, OF; 2 unnamed
Diamondbacks (2): Silvino Bracho; P; Junior Guerra, P
Padres (1): Tommy Pham, OF

July 6, 2020

Red Sox Schedule For 2020

The 2020 Red Sox are scheduled to begin their season two weeks from this Friday, at home against the Orioles.

Here is the plan:

News Flash: Racist Supports Racism

The United States' White-Supremacist-in-Chief did not exactly stop the presses on Monday by stating he thinks racist nicknames are great.

This guy is so racist . . . (How racist is he?) . . . He's so racist that even his signature looks like a Klan rally:


The news of Washington's NFL team and Cleveland's MLB having discussions about changing their nicknames was "trying to be politically correct". Not that the Orange Asshole would know a single thing about being "correct" on any topic, politically or otherwise. He's allowed 133,000 Americans to die (so far) because (a) he's lazy, ignorant, and illiterate and (b) he did not want to look bad and yet (c) he does not understand that having 133,000+ dead Americans on your watch is not a good look.

In 2013, he tweeted that presidents should stay out of the debate (they "should not be telling" teams what to do). It turns out that . . . the man accused of sexual assault by more than two dozen women is a stone cold hypocrite! Surprise!

By the way, the phrase "politically correct" is nothing more than code for "stop your annoying whining about your meaningless issue, which has no value and should not be taken seriously, because if we do, I might have to change my unthinking racist sexist homophobic behaviour and language, and I want to keep doing whatever I want".

The things derided as "politically correct" are usually simply the acts of behaving like a decent human being. Being sensitive to, and having genuine concern for, the feelings of other people. Realizing that by making an insignificant adjustment to your own behaviour, you will spare many people a lot of pain.

Camps Have Been Open Less Than One Week, And MLB's Virus Testing Has Been A Mess (Limited Results Show At Least 46 Players Test Positive)


MLB's Summer Training camps have been open for less than one week and the first round of testing has gone less than smoothly, to put it mildly.

Failures to deliver test results on time have caused at least six teams to change their schedules. The three weeks of training camp does not allow much, if any, margin for error.

Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic catalogues the missteps: releasing the results of the first round of testing even though the results for the majority of teams were pending or incomplete, many players having to wait longer than the promised 48 hours to hear test results (because MLB decided to use only one lab (in Utah) to process all of the tests, roughly 14,000 per week), and promised personal protection equipment never being delivered.

At least three teams (Astros, Cardinals, Nationals) cancelled workouts on Monday and three others (Angels, Athletics, Diamondbacks) delayed workouts. If that continues, teams will not be ready when the season begins. The 60-game schedule for 2020 is supposed to be announced tonight.

At least 46 players have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (this does not include staff members):
AL EAST
Red Sox (2): Josh Taylor, P; Darwinzon Hernandez, P
Yankees (2): DJ LeMahieu, INF; Luis Cessa, P

AL CENTRAL
Twins (4): Miguel Sano, 3B; Willians Astudillo, C; Nick Gordon, SS; Edwar Colina, P
White Sox (2): unnamed
Royals (1): Salvador Perez, C
Cleveland (1): Delino DeShields, OF
Tigers (1): Unnamed

AL WEST
Rangers (2): Joey Gallo, OF; Brett Martin, P
Mariners: "a few"

NL EAST
Phillies (7?): Unnamed (Pitcher Aaron Nola, outfielder Adam Haseley, and catcher Christian Bethancourt have not reported to camp; Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and Ranger Suarez were placed on the injured list without explanation.)
Atlanta (4): Freddie Freeman, 1B; Will Smith, P; Touki Toussaint, P; Pete Kozma, INF
Marlins (4): Unnamed
Nationals (2): Unnamed

NL CENTRAL
Cardinals (3): Ricardo Sanchez, P; Genesis Cabrera, P; Elehuris Montero, 3B
Pirates (2): Blake Cederlind, P; Socrates Brito, OF
Brewers: (2): Luis Urias, SS; Angel Perdomo, P

NL WEST
Giants (4): Luis Madero, P; Hunter Bishop, OF; 2 unnamed
Diamondbacks (2): Silvino Bracho; P; Junior Guerra, P
Padres (1): Tommy Pham, OF
Other players, most notably Mike Trout, Buster Posey, and Zack Wheeler, have questioned whether they are doing the right thing. A debacle over testing could certainly sway their opinions.

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle spoke for many players when he expressed concern and impatience. He also thinks MLB and the Players Association spent so much time trying to come to an agreement on salaries and the schedule that the health and safety protocols may have received less attention than necessary.
This has to get fixed. There are a lot of players right now that are trying to make decisions that might be participating in camp that aren't 100 percent comfortable with where things are at right now. That's where I am. ... Instead [of health and safety] the focus was trying to jam in a new salary structure in the middle of a pandemic. It felt tone-deaf. It felt gross. ...

It's a little bit disorganized. We're not getting tests back in time. They still haven't sent us the PPE. We're supposed to have N95 masks, stuff like that, gowns, gloves. We're supposed to have that stuff, we don't have that stuff. Those are the things it's going to take for people to stay safe enough for us to continue this season.
To date, eight players (all National Leaguers) have decided to sit out the 2020 season, with David Price and Felix Hernandez the latest additions:
Diamondbacks: Mike Leake, RHP

Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman, 1B; Joe Ross, RHP; Welington Castillo, C

Rockies: Ian Desmond, OF

Dodgers: David Price, LHP

Giants: Tyson Ross, RHP

Atlanta: Nick Markakis, OF; Felix Hernandez, RHP; Wellin
Ghiroli:
[T]he Red Sox testing wasn't complete when MLB's first round of numbers went out. The Padres are another organization that has had to wait longer than two days for results. If MLB is going to have a chance to pull this off, there is almost no margin of error. What happens on Labor Day weekend? Another delay? This isn't a math quiz, it's an imperative part of having a safe and functioning league. ...

Players are supposed to be tested every other day. They are supposed to get those test results ideally within 24 hours, but up to 48. They are supposed to get N95 and gloves and practice safe social distancing. They are supposed to able to trust the system, trust the speed of the intake tests and the league in releasing pertinent data.

What we know is before Wednesday's intake, there were already confirmed positives among an unknown number of players. If you add those to the 31 players in the league's release, it raises the proportion of players testing positive out of the roughly 1,800 involved on the 60-man rosters. ...

There have been more positive tests every day, including two for the Nationals ... The Cardinals have announced three positive cases, the White Sox two. [Atlanta] star Freddie Freeman, who initially tested negative, was among four cases in Atlanta. This has all been within five days of MLB starting back up.

We know the initial intake positive tests are clearly above the reported 1.2 percent. What we don't know is what the reasoning was in MLB, releasing incomplete data that could be construed as giving players and fans exactly what you don't want: a false sense of security. A league source told The Athletic, MLB's initial data did have representation from all 30 clubs, though it's unclear what percentage was completed.
The Mexican Baseball League announced the cancellation of the 2020 season, the first time in 95 years that an entire season had been canceled. The summer season was scheduled to start August 7.

July 4, 2020

31 Players From 19 Teams (Including "Some" Red Sox) Test Positive In MLB's First Round Of Covid-19 Tests

MLB and the Players Union announced on Friday that 31 players tested positive for COVID-19 in the first round of testing. Seven staff members also tested positive.

The 31 positives tests came from players on 19 teams, including the Red Sox.

Two Pro Sports Teams With Racist Nicknames Are Finally Feeling Enough Pressure To Considering Dumping Them

Weird. Post a seven-year-old gag from The Onion at night, watch it actually (sort of) happen the next day.

The Washington DC football team is considering ditching its racist nickname, something management vowed would never happen. Of course, money is a big reason for the change of heart. One person noted if the team kept the offensive name, they would likely "have a major exodus of all [their] sponsors".

On Friday, Cleveland's major league baseball team acknowledged it is open to changing its nickname, as well. The team issued a statement that was, to put it mildly, pure bullshit:
We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. ... The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.
If that was even remotely accurate, Chief Wahoo would be a hazy memory for everyone by now. Two years ago, the Commissioner said the racist caricature was "no longer appropriate for on-field use", but the team still makes money selling shirts and other items with the logo. ... Hey, Cleveland, it's not a crime to "improve" a little quicker, you know?

***

July 3, 2020

NFL News: Washington Team Changes Its Name

Washington Redskins Change Their Name To The D.C. Redskins

Following an outpouring of criticism from across the country, the Washington Redskins announced Wednesday that they are officially changing the team's name to the D.C. Redskins.

"We've heard the concerns of many people who have been hurt or offended by the team's previous name, and I'm happy to say we've now rectified the situation once and for all," said franchise owner Dan Snyder, adding that "Washington Redskins" will be replaced with "D.C. Redskins" on all team logos, uniforms, and apparel. "It was a difficult decision—and one that, frankly, I'm a little embarrassed took me so long to make. So hopefully we can now put this issue to bed and start cheering on our D.C. Redskins."

In light of Snyder's decision, Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan told reporters he will change the feather in Chief Wahoo's headdress from red to a "more appropriate" shade of red.
***

Previous reporting:
Redskins' Kike Owner Refuses To Change Team's Offensive Name

Denying widespread claims that the franchise is being offensive or disrespectful, the Washington Redskins' kike owner announced Monday that he remains steadfast in his refusal to change the team's derogatory name.

"The Redskins represent 81 years of great history and tradition, and it's a source of pride for our fans," said the hook-nosed kike, stressing that the team's insulting moniker is "absolutely not a racial slur by any means. ... The shifty-eyed hebe went on to assure fans that he will do "everything in his power" to preserve the team's proud heritage.

July 2, 2020

No Minor League Baseball In 2020 - All Seasons Cancelled

There will be no minor league baseball in 2020.

It will be the first ever summer without minor league baseball, which was founded in 1901. The announcement was made on Tuesday.
From MiLB president Pat O'Conner:
These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played. While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season ...
The major league season is scheduled to begin on July 23.

July 1, 2020

Of Course He Does. Jeter Supports Loathsome Extra-Inning Baserunner Rule
("I Hated Extra Innings. I Didn't Want To Play. It's Not That Much Fun.")


I did not need any additional reasons to loathe the extra-inning baserunner that MLB will be using this season to drive loyal, long-time fans away from the game forever make games end quicker, but I got one this morning.

Derek Jeter likes the new rule.
I'm coming from the American League, so I like the DH. Even extra innings. As a player, I'm just talking on my behalf as a player, I hated extra innings. I just didn't want to play them. You play in 162 games and it's a long season, and you play 15 or 18-inning games, it's not that much fun.
Captain Intangibles says fans "want to see a little more excitement in the sport". I guess that's why, as a front office guy, he traded away his best players to boost profits for management. Go, team! And during his playing days, Jeter refused to do things to make his team better, i.e., more exciting, like changing positions for a far superior player and batting lower in the lineup as his skills deteriorated.

Anyway, I'm not convinced altering one of the game's foundational rules, in place since the sport's beginning, to merely get this fucking game over with as soon as possible so I can go do something else is the best avenue to create excitement.

June 30, 2020

MLB.com's Article On Best 60-Game Stretches In History Contains Significant Errors

Are you curious what the best batting average or best OPS or lowest ERA is over any 60-game stretch in modern major league history?

Well, Tom Tango (MLB.com senior data architect) and Jason Bernard (MLB.com baseball research and development manager) did the digging and MLB.com's Matt Kelly presents the information, but there are significant errors in his article.

Babe Ruth is listed as having the best OPS of all-time over a 60-game period (1.598, May 11 to July 22, 1920), but Ruth actually played in 68 games between those dates and posted a 1.572 OPS. For what it's worth, Ruth's 60-game span from May 23 to July 19 produced a 1.558 OPS. That is still an otherworldly performance, but it's not what is in the article.

I also looked at Rogers Hornsby's .466 batting average from June 21 to August 29, 1924. Again, this is supposedly to be over 60 games, but it's 71 games, and Hornsby batted .467.

Don't worry, some of the information is correct. I picked Barry Bonds's 1.016 slugging percentage from April 13 to June 23, 2001 and discovered it was accomplished in 60 games.

I'm So Old I Remember When . . .

I'm so old I remember when news of the President of the United States committing treason by doing nothing for 18 months after being told Russia was offering (and paying) cash bounties to killers of American soldiers in Afghanistan would have been an important, stop-the-presses event.

June 29, 2020

Red Sox Announce List Of 47 Players For "Summer Training"

The Red Sox announced their list of 47 players who will report to summer training at Fenway Park next Wednesday. The first workout is scheduled for Friday, July 3.
Catchers (5): Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez, Connor Wong

Infielders (11): Jonathan Arauz, Xander Bogaerts, C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Marco Hernández, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Yairo Muñoz, José Peraza

Outfielders (7): John Andreoli, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, J.D. Martinez, Kevin Pillar, César Puello, Alex Verdugo

Pitchers (24): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Austin Brice, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Heath Hembree, Darwinzon Hernandez, Brian Johnson, Robinson Leyer, Chris Mazza, Collin McHugh, Josh Osich, Martín Pérez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Domingo Tapia, Josh Taylor, Phillips Valdez, Marcus Walden, Ryan Weber, Brandon Workman
The first three spots in the Red Sox's rotation are set with Rodriguez, Eovaldi, and Pérez. The other two spots are up for grabs and could include an opener.

Jonathan Lucroy is not on the list of catchers, but the non-roster invitee is expected to be with the club for the start of camp. He and Plawecki will compete for the back-up role.

Verdugo would have likely opened the season on the injured list back in late March, but his back issues should not be a problem now.

The Red Sox's schedule for the 60-game season should be released in the next 7-10 days.

June 25, 2020

40 MLB Players And Staff Tested Positive For SARS-CoV-2 Last Week

Forty MLB players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in the last week, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Two persons with direct knowledge spoke to Nightengale on the condition of anonymity. The exact number of teams affected is not known, but Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported it is more than 10.

Last week, five Phillies players and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Additional testing revealed two additional players and two more staff members were positive. Multiple Blue Jays players and staff also have tested positive, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

June 24, 2020

Baseball! Owners & Players Agree To A 60-Game Season Beginning July 23

There will be a 2020 baseball season.

Probably.

Maybe.

The Players Association agreed yesterday to Major League Baseball's proposal of a 60-game regular-season schedule, to begin July 23 or 24.

Players will report to training camps by July 1 (a week from tomorrow!). Most teams will be training in their major league parks. Players, coaches, and support staff will be tested for SARS-CoV-2 every other day during "summer" training, the regular season, and postseason. Players will also receive temperature/symptom checks at least twice per day. Anybody testing positive will be quarantined and two negative tests would be required to return.

Each team will play 10 games against each of the four teams in its division and 20 games (four games each?) against the other league's corresponding division (e.g., AL East will play NL East).

Teams must submit a 60-man training camp roster by Sunday afternoon. Teams will open the season with a 30-man roster, which will be reduced to 28 players after two weeks and to 26 after four weeks.

I cannot properly express my disgust and anger at this decision: For regular-season games, teams will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base. If you are keeping a scorecard, the runner will be considered to have reached on an error, but the other team will not be charged with an error. Of course. Score it E-MLB, perhaps? The 2020 postseason will not use this bullshit gimmick. All bets are off for future postseasons.

Also, the DH will be used in both leagues. This also annoys me, but it's small potatoes compared to the Extra-Inning Runner.

Ben Lindbergh has written an excellent overview at The Ringer.
MLB still almost fatally fumbled an opportunity to generate interest in and loyalty to its product by making it as difficult as possible for its fans to feel good about baseball. ... [T]he sport turned people off at a time when it could have bolstered its somewhat specious claim to traditional "national pastime" status. ...

The good news now is that even if the season doesn't start, or has to stop prematurely, MLB can convincingly claim that COVID-19 was the culprit ... This saga did damage to baseball, but the worst was averted, and barring additional ass-showing, the league can come back next year with something close to a clean slate. ...

Not only does the season pale in significance to the existential issues dominating the news, but it also seems like a blend between naive and overly optimistic to sketch out the season down to the last detail considering the likelihood that the coronavirus will make it all moot.

Over the weekend, MLB shut down team training camps for cleaning after 40 players and team personnel tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreaks spanned several teams—including the Phillies, the Yankees, the Blue Jays, the Giants, the Astros, and the Angels—in multiple locations. The number of known infections has continued to climb. And that’s before most of the players report. Hours after the MLBPA signed off on the health-and-safety protocol, Charlie Blackmon and two other Rockies reportedly tested positive, which seems like a sign of things to come. ...

Here's a sobering truth bomb for fans who are happy to have this messy labor battle behind them: This was just the tremor that preceded a longer economic earthquake to come. MLB's CBA expires in December 2021, and if this spring is any indication, the next negotiation isn't going to be a friendly affair. ... By refusing to allow the owners to squirm out of their commitment to prorated pay, the players effectively fired a shot across MLB's bow, sending a signal that they won't be browbeaten into settling for less than they believe they're entitled to earn. ...

The players even scored some points in the court of public opinion, where they historically haven't fared well. Fans have dependably sided with ownership in past labor battles, swayed by rhetoric about "greedy" players whose salaries are accessible and easy to stew about (unlike the owners' much larger but less visible bank accounts). ...

For the first time, there's little truth to the maxim that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. ... [T]his year's championship won't be viewed as legitimate in the way that a normal, non-sign-stealing-tainted one would ... but fans of mediocre teams can dare to dream about an upset. ...

June 23, 2020

Aubrey Huff Is A Proud, Ignorant Moron On Twitter (And Everywhere Else)

June 19, 2020

MLB Closes All Training Facilities in Florida & Arizona
Phillies Close Florida Camp After Eight People Test Positive For COVID-19

UPDATED!


MLB has closed all spring training camps in Arizona and Florida, according to USA Today Sports, so they can be disinfected and cleaned. Players and staff will not be readmitted to the facilities unless they test negative for COVID-19.

***

Eight people in the Phillies organization have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 this week and the team has shut down its training facility in Clearwater, Florida, until further notice.

Five players and three staff members tested positive, with the first case being confirmed on Tuesday. More than 30 other team personnel (20 players, 12 staff) are waiting for test results. None of the eight people have been hospitalized.

Florida has had record-setting numbers of new cases this week and is one of 17 states in which hospitalizations for COVID-19 are increasing (Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Vermont). Deaths from COVID-19 are on an upward trend in 13 states and Washington, D.C.

In nearby Dunedin, the Blue Jays also closed their training camp after a player exhibited symptoms. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the player "is a pitcher on the 40-man roster who recently had spent time with players in the Phillies' minor leagues system ... He has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results." Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said the team is "being overly precautious with testing". Back in March, two minor leaguers with the Yankees tested positive for COVID-19 in Tampa. They have both recovered.

Also: The Astros had one player test positive for COVID-19 at the team's facility in West Palm Beach. The unidentified player had minor symptoms and is recovering. Two Angels players tested positive for COVID-19, although neither had been working out at Angel Stadium or the team's training camp in Tempe, Arizona. The Giants and Rangers announced they were shutting down their training facilities in Florida and Arizona.

The positive tests come at a time when a possible agreement concerning a 2020 season might be reached. The Union's proposal to MLB yesterday suggested a 70-game regular season. MLB's last offer was for 60 games.

Other professional sports teams in Florida have seen positive tests this week: Multiple players with the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) and the assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) have tested positive. Also, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews and a San Francisco 49ers player both tested positive.

June 18, 2020

Does The Daily News Realize The Old Yankee Stadium Was Replaced 12+ Years Ago?

For today's back page, the New York Daily News used a photo of the second Yankee Stadium, which was last used in 2008 and was demolished more than 10 years ago, to illustrate how baseball fans in 2020 cannot buy tickets to games.


June 17, 2020

Commissioner Rob Manfred Foolishly Guarantees A 2020 Season Before Admitting, Five Days Later, There's A "Real Risk" Of No Season At All


Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred:
June 10, 2020:
We're going to play baseball in 2020. One hundred percent. ... [O]ne way or the other, we're playing Major League Baseball.
June 15, 2020:
I can't tell you that I'm a hundred percent certain [a 2020 season is] gonna happen ... I'm not confident. I think there's real risk [of no 2020 season].
Heck of a job, Brownie.

On June 12, MLB proposed a 72-game season (July 14-September 27), with players receiving 70% of their prorated salaries for the regular season and 80% if the postseason is completed.

The Union rejected that offer and countered with an offer of an 89-game regular season with full prorated salaries and expanded playoffs. The owners turned that down. Manfred said a counter-proposal "consistent with the economic realities we're looking at" is being prepared.

Agent Joel Wolfe dismissed the owners' constant cries of poverty:
The Marlins played without fans for 15 years, yet still managed to give a player the biggest contract in sports history [Giancarlo Stanton], and then sold the team for a billion dollar profit, with 5 competing buyers.
The Union says the players "resoundingly reject" any additional salary concessions and according to executive subcommittee member (and Nationals pitcher) Max Scherzer, there is "no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information" provided by MLB.

It is also reported that as many as eight owners currently would rather not have a season at all.



Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic) writes:
Rob Manfred finally seems to be figuring out he has no choice: Strike a deal with the union and salvage the 2020 season, or ruin his legacy as commissioner of baseball.
Who knew Manfred's legacy was still unruined?

I'm not sure if Rosenthal believes his own words. He also writes:
The best commissioners offer statesmanlike presence and superior vision. Few ascribe those qualities to Manfred, and few would argue baseball is in a better place since he took over for [Bud] Selig on Aug. 14, 2014. ...

[F]or a guy who suddenly is looking for peace, Manfred sure has a funny way of showing it. ... Unless making dead-on-arrival proposals, tone-deaf public remarks and other assorted blunders is your idea of negotiating savvy. ...

What complicates the situation is that some owners might not want to play at all. ... [T]he owners say they will lose money in every game without fans if the players do not accept a pay cut. But the players adamantly oppose a cut, and the owners have yet to make a proposal without one. ...

Most owners will be in the game longer than most players, enabling them to eventually recoup their losses from 2020, then profit from their franchise's resale values. ...

If he blows this, it will define him.

June 15, 2020

Talks For Possible 2020 Season Reach A Stalemate As Union Rejects MLB's Latest Proposal

On Saturday night, after MLB again proposed a shortened 2020 season (72 games) with a reduction in per-game pay, the Players Association effectively walked away from the table, stating it believed the negotiations to be over.

MLB's proposal called for a 70% reduction in players' salaries, 80% if the postseason were played to completion. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that further talks appear to be futile.

If MLB returns with a new offer that does not include a pay cut, the Union would listen, but there is little indication MLB will do that. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to unilaterally set a schedule of X games as long as the players are given 100% of their full prorated salaries, as per a March agreement.

Bruce Meyer, lawyer for the Players Association:
Players remain united in their stance that a day's work is worth a day's pay, particularly in a situation where players and their families are being asked to take on additional burdens and risks. Given your continued insistence on hundreds of millions of dollars of additional pay reductions, we assume these negotiations are at an end. If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report. ... We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15. ...

Your refusal to play (regular season) games in October is purportedly based primarily on concern for player health. We believe this is a pretext. We note that we requested information at our May 31 meeting on any basis for not playing games in October. You agreed to provide such information but we have yet to receive it. Other leagues are planning on playing in October and November, and we have proposed having the flexibility to play games at neutral sites if necessary to address any safety concerns. We believe your position is part and parcel of your general bad faith determination to play as few games as possible to punish players for refusing to capitulate to MLB's demands for massive pay cuts.
It was also reported on Saturday that MLB had agreed on a new $3.29 billion deal with Turner Sports, one of its broadcast partners. The deal is worth nearly $500 million per season from 2022 through 2028.

That news only strengthens the Union's belief that MLB is lying about its allegedly dire financial state. The Union continues to ask MLB to provide evidence of its financial claims. Clark said the Players Association had asked MLB weeks ago for information regarding the Turner arrangement, but MLB refused to provide it.

June 13, 2020

Judge Rules MLB Letter To Yankees Re Sign-Stealing Investigation Must Be Released


MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to the New York Yankees regarding the findings of a 2017 investigation into sign-stealing by the Yankees must be released, according to a New York judge.

The ruling states that a minimally-redacted version of the letter ("to protect the identity of the individuals mentioned") must be released by noon ET on Monday, June 15.

The Yankees argue the letter would cause "significant reputational injury", if released, but also claim: "We're not doing this to cover up some smoking gun."

The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit brought against MLB by daily fantasy sports contestants in the wake of other sign-stealing scandals. The letter concerns activities by the Yankees in 2015 and 2016.

Judge Jed Rakoff ruled:
Plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 Press Release falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme. ... [Plaintiffs argue the letter] proved Manfred's duplicity. ...

MLB primarily argues that it will be injured by the disclosure of the Yankees Letter because such disclosure will undermine its ability to conduct internal investigations in the future by undermining teams' faith in their confidentiality. The Yankees argue that they have a strong privacy interest because public disclosure of the Yankees Letter would cause the Yankees significant reputational injury. While this may be the case, the gravity of this concern is again lessened by the fact that the contents of the Yankees Letter have already been discussed in some form by the 2017 Press Release.
Evan Drellich, The Athletic:
[T]he league's 2017 press release about the Yankees' conduct lacked specificity.

The league determined in 2017 that the Red Sox had illegally transmitted signs via a wearable device, in what became known as the Apple Watch scandal. But in the press release announcing the findings of the investigation into both the Red Sox and Yankees, Manfred did not detail exactly what the Yankees did, noting only that it included the use of the dugout phone. ...

The Athletic has previously reported that in 2017 MLB determined that the Yankees had engaged in conduct related to sign stealing similar to the Red Sox'.
In his ruling, Rakoff called the privacy interests of both the Yankees and MLB "modest at best, and not nearly strong enough to overcome the robust presumption of access that attaches to the Yankees Letter".

June 8, 2020

Players Union Unlikely To Accept MLB's Latest Proposal (76-Game Season, 50% Of Prorated Salaries (75% If Postseason Is Completed))


MLB's latest proposal for the 2020 season is a 76-game regular season with players receiving 50 percent of their prorated salaries (75% if a full postseason is played). MLB has junked its plan of a sliding scale of salary reductions.

The Post reports:
The Players Association did not comment publicly, but ... views this as taking a substantial risk by being guaranteed just half its prorated pay and needing a full postseason just to get half of the remaining 50 percent at a time when it still does not believe the owners will suffer the losses that MLB is claiming.

The union despised MLB's first 82-game plan because of the sliding scale and less than 100 percent of prorated salary. MLB hated the union's counter because it called for not only 100 percent prorated salaries but a 114-game season. Each brought greater fury rather than cooperation. ...

So where does it leave MLB? Already, the best outcome — starting the regular season on Independence Day weekend — is gone with not enough time for a resolution and a three-week spring training. ...

As part of the March 26 agreement with the players, the commissioner gained control of the schedule and MLB believes as long as it pays full prorated salaries the players are obligated to play. The union has not publicly conceded that ...
Bruce Meyer, the players' union top negotiator, wrote to MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem last Friday:
The league's cynical tactic of depriving America of baseball games in furtherance of their demand for unwarranted salary concessions is shortsighted and troubling. Meanwhile, other leagues are moving forward with their plans for resumption.
Not only can the two sides not agree when the season might start, they cannot agree when it might end. The union's proposal had the postseason going into November. MLB is "unalterably opposed" to having the regular season extend past September 27, fearing a greater risk during a possible second wave of SARS-CoV-2. The union has warned MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred not to force a shortened season on the players.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal writes:
The way negotiations are dragging, the start of the season easily might be delayed until August, and 50 to 60 games might prove the only option. ...

A canceled season still seems unthinkable, but failing to make the July 4 opening also seemed unthinkable, and here we are. ... [Both parties] act like a couple about to split, talking at each other instead of to each other, recycling the same arguments, stubbornly insisting the other is wrong. They are trapped in their relationship, trapped by their respective histories. And the perception of the game suffers.

None of this happened overnight. The union's distrust of the owners dates back decades, and stems in part from three separate rulings of collusion and the original fight for free agency ... Meyer voiced that distrust in his letter to Halem, saying, "we note that the league frequently claims that it has negative operating profits from playing baseball yet it still puts on baseball games every year." The union attorney also noted the team's regional-sports network contracts the league submitted to the PA, "were so heavily redacted as to be essentially meaningless." ...

Every move the league has made in these negotiations – an economic presentation the union considered dubious, a delayed, tiered salary proposal that would have hit wealthiest players the hardest, the recent suggestion of a 50-odd game schedule – has stiffened the players' resolve. The players do not believe the owners' claim that they will lose money with each regular-season game played without fans, and want proof of the clubs' financial distress. The league shares certain information, but the teams, like most private enterprises, do not make their books publicly available. ...

[T]he union seems focused on building unity for the looming CBA negotiations, rather than treating 2020 as an unprecedented, short-term situation.

June 7, 2020

Joey Votto's Awakening: "Only Now Am I Beginning To Hear. I Am Awakening To Their Pain, And My Ignorance. No Longer Will I Be Silent."


Joey Votto, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 7, 2020:
My Awakening

On May 28, I received an emotional text from one of my few African American teammates. He asked me to watch a video of a black man being killed under the knee of a white police officer. My instincts provoked an instantaneous defense of the officer. Perhaps the man was resisting arrest? Maybe there is a story the video isn't telling?

"Watch the f---ing video."

I deemed his response offensive. I told my friend not to yell at me and wished him goodnight. He apologized.

***

A week before George Floyd's death, before any protests or uprising, I finished reading a copy of "A Long Walk to Freedom," the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. I took in the history of his 27-year prison sentence for leading a fight against overt racism in South Africa. I admired his willingness to sacrifice for the cause of freedom for all. I considered him a hero for backing up his words with actions.

And then I tucked the book away on a shelf in my library.

***

I was raised in Mimico, a small neighborhood just outside of Toronto, Canada. One of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In 2002, the Cincinnati Reds selected me with the 44th pick in the Major League Baseball draft. At 18 years of age, I began my professional career, traveling around America on buses, growing up in clubhouses that were predominantly divided between white Americans and Latinos. Most of our minor league teams had a few African American players, as well, and perhaps because of where I was raised, I found myself most comfortable with the group of Americans who weren't white.

For five years, I shared hotel rooms with my African-American teammates. We shared pizzas, played video games, and listened to music together. We developed friendships. I look back on these years as some of the best of my life.

But I also witnessed glimpses of racism that should have opened my eyes to the realities of being a black man in America. My teammates, my friends, the ones that I shared great times with, faced prejudices that I never did and when they shared their experiences ...

I did not hear them.

***

The day after I rejected my teammate's request to witness George Floyd's death, I finally opened the video. I wept. I texted my friend back and apologized. He graciously accepted, and then I moved on. I had acknowledged his pain. I had done my part.

Everything inside of me wants things to go back to normal. I don't want to protest, raise my voice, or challenge someone. I don't want to have heated arguments, break up friendships, or challenge previous norms.

But I hear you now, and so that desire for normalcy is a privilege by which I can no longer abide. That privilege kept me from understanding the "why" behind Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem. That privilege allowed me to ignore my black teammates' grievances about their experiences with law enforcement, being profiled, and discriminated against. And that privilege has made me complicit in the death of George Floyd, as well as the many other injustices that blacks experience in the U.S. and my native Canada.

A week after I returned Mandela's biography to the library shelf, I dismissed a black friend's plea for support. Only now am I just beginning to hear. I am awakening to their pain, and my ignorance. No longer will I be silent.

#BlackLivesMatter

June 2, 2020

After Players Union Proposes 114-Game Season, MLB, Wanting To Rip Up A Deal It Agreed To Only Two Months Ago, Is Considering A Short Season Of As Few As 40 Games

Major league owners and players have been trading possibilities for a shortened 2020 season, but the two sides may be farther apart than they were a month ago.

There have been proposals for seasons of 82 games (MLB), 114 games (Union), and somewhere between 40-60 games (MLB). The Players Association does not want to accept any additional reduction in pay (and certainly not before seeing the owners' financial books) and if that is the case, then MLB wants as short a season as possible so teams spend as little as possible on payroll.

There is also the matter of both sides agreeing on health and safety issues and then coming to an agreement with local, state, and federal medical officials. The period of negotiation depends on how long the season would be, but time is running out, in any case.

On May 15, MLB submitted "2020 Operations Manual", a 67-page document, to the Players Association. It proposed an 82-game season that would begin in early July.

The New York Post reported on the manual's contents. Here are some of their highlights, which likely give a good idea of how baseball would proceed if and when the issues surrounding health and money are resolved:
The Game

* Players on opposite teams should not socialize, fraternize or come within 6 feet of each other before and during the game, warm-ups and anthem. The same goes for players on the same team. "Do not sit" areas of the dugout will be designated with 6 feet of labeled tape and coaches as well as players less likely to participate (like starting pitchers not going that day) will be assigned to the unoccupied seats behind the dugout, where they'll also socially distance. ...

* All non-playing personnel must wear masks at all times in the dugout and all personnel must make all efforts to avoid touching their face with their hands (including to give signs), wiping away sweat with their hands, licking their fingers, whistling with their fingers or any similarly unsanitary acts. Spitting is prohibited (including but not limited to saliva, sunflower seeds, or tobacco) at all times in club facilities.

* Any ball that is put in play and touched by multiple players shall be removed and exchanged for a new baseball. After an out, players are strongly discouraged from throwing the ball around the infield.

* Pitchers should bring their own rosin bag to the mound, and batters should have their own pine tar and batting donuts that they bring with them to and from the on-deck circle.

* When the ball goes out of play, fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner. Likewise between pitches. ...

* Fighting and instigating fights are strictly prohibited. Players must not make physical contact with others for any reason unless it's a "normal and permissible" part of the game action. Violations of the fighting mandates will result in "severe discipline."

* Using the indoor hitting cage is discouraged. Usage of saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools and cryotherapy chambers at the ballpark are forbidden. Teammates are not to high-five, fist-bump or hug while on team property, and showering at the ballpark will be discouraged.

Travel

* The entire team must stay in the same hotel; in the past, many superstars have stayed separately from the team. Members of the traveling party are prohibited from traveling or leaving the hotel for any reason besides going to the game in any manner without team approval. ...

* Clubs should try to book their teams on low floors of hotels in order to avoid riding shared elevators and ensure that hotels provide a private dining area for the traveling party, none of whom will be allowed to eat outside that area.

* No one from the traveling party can use the hotel gym or any other shared facility.

* The only acceptable methods of travel to and from the ballpark will be participants’ own vehicles or the team bus. That means no Ubers, taxis or mass transit. A sufficient number of buses will be provided to and from the ballpark to ensure everyone will have an empty seat next to him or her.

Medical Practices

* Upon arriving at spring training, all players and support staff must undergo a screening 48-72 hours prior to the report date. Temperatures will be taken with a contactless thermometer, either a saliva or nasal swab test will be administered and so will a blood test. Those tested must self-quarantine until they receive results, which should be within 24-48 hours. A negative test will allow a player to join spring training. A positive test would lead to the person being placed in self-isolation.

* Players will have their temperatures taken twice daily and screening for the virus multiple times a week. Any individual with a temperature more than 100 degrees or symptoms of the virus will be subject to immediate screening for COVID-19. ...

* Players will be provided thermometers to use each morning twice consecutively then be required to register the results in a database.

* MLB will not formally restrict off-field activities, but will encourage those who are part of the game to avoid areas such as crowded bars, clubs and restaurants and other activities that increase the risk of contracting the virus. ...

* If someone needs to get tested at an off-site medical facility, that facility cannot be a hospital or clinic that has been treating COVID-19 patients.

Spring Training

* Teams will be limited to 50 players.

* Teams that use a major league stadium should stagger times of workouts throughout the day to avoid overcrowding and use other facilities — such as, for example, nearby colleges — if feasible to lessen the number of players/personnel in contact at any one time.

* All exhibition games in Florida and Arizona will begin at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. local time to account for the heat.
When that was released, Joel Sherman of the Post wrote:
In the best scenario, MLB is hoping to begin spring training in mid-June. That means getting an agreement with the Players Association no later than the next two weeks. Because to implement all the spring health/safety protocols and to get the players there will probably take another two weeks. And in the next two weeks MLB and the union importantly have to agree on how to pay the players, a contentious issue that is making groups that need to be cooperative, not that.
On Thursday, May 21, the Players Association delivered its response. It stated that as far as the health of the players and other team employees, government (local, state, federal) officials and medical officials, in addition to MLB and the Players Association, must agree on a set of health and safety rules before other topics, such as the length of the season and salaries, can be tackled. The union's response covered testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel, protections for high-risk players and family, access to pregame and postgame therapies, and sanitization protocols.

On Tuesday, May 26, MLB proposed a season of 82 games and presented its financial plan, which called for players making the least amount of money to earn a higher percentage of their normal annual salary. If an 82-game regular season was played, players making the 2020 minimum of $563,500 would receive around 93% of the prorated amount or $262,000. Players with the highest salaries would take a larger pay cut, up to more than 50%. For example, Gerrit Cole would have been paid $36 million this season, but his pro-rated salary of around $18 million for 82 games would be reduced by 44% to roughly $8 million. MLB's proposal had several tiers between the lowest and highest salaries.

The Players Association was discouraged, noting that the players — not the owners — would be risking increased exposure to a virus that has infected nearly two million Americans and resulted in more than 107,000 US deaths. The union indicated the two sides had sizable differences on health and safety issues. The union was already annoyed when it approached MLB's offer because a proposal had been expected two weeks earlier. The union believes MLB's delay was deliberate, to put public pressure on the players to agree to an owner-friendly deal amid the financial hardship of most Americans. Many players also viewed the MLB's proposal as an attempt to divide the union. Pitcher Brett Anderson of the Brewers tweeted: "Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys." There also exists the possibility that some high-priced players would choose to sit out the season.

On May 27, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer tweeted:
[T]here's no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there's no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I'm glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB's economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Agent Scott Boras sent an email to his many clients, urging them not to, in effect, bail out the owners. He reminded the players that MLB had agreed to a prorated salary structure back in late March and now wanted to renegotiate that agreement:
Remember, games cannot be played without you. Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated. ...

If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners' current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations. ...

Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout. They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect. ...

Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans. ... Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.
The union has firmly stated that it will not consider any additional financial concessions until the owners open their financial books for examination. No MLB team has ever done this.

On Sunday, May 31, the Players Association presented its counterproposal, featuring a 114-game schedule (June 30 to October 31), levels of deferred pay for players making eight figures, and the right of any player to opt out of the season.

Playing 114 games as opposed to 82 gives the players the opportunity to make a greater percentage of their salaries. The deferrals would protect the owners against a canceled postseason and the deferred payments, with interest, would be made in November 2021 and November 2022. The players would also receive an additional salary advance ($100 million lump sum) during spring training, on top of the $170 million payment the players negotiated in March. The players also offered two years of expanded playoffs, similar to what MLB wants.

It was reported by ESPN last night that MLB was considering playing a season of only 40-60 games if the players did not agree to further cuts in pay. But MLB has not officially presented any such proposal to the Players Association. Commissioner Rob Manfred believes the March 26 agreement allows MLB to schedule however many games it wants as long as players are paid their prorated salaries. MLB wants to complete the regular season by the end of September.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported:
Players have held out for a full prorated portion of their salaries, based on a March 26 agreement with the league, and in an offer Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8% of that number.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark:
This is all part of the league's attempts to negotiate through the media instead of focusing on how to bring baseball back to its fans. ... We have an agreement on compensation that says clearly how players get paid in the event games are played — pro-rata. In fact, the league recently confirmed in writing that "we agree with the Association that, under the Agreement, players are not required to accept less than their full prorated salary." ... We have never denied that MLB has the ability to come back and try to persuade us to change that agreement based on their economic concerns. They've tried unsuccessfully. In fact, Rob confirmed yesterday that, "We can pay you 100 percent of salary right now."
Passan:
The deadline for an agreement depends on how long the season would be. The fewer the games, the longer the parties can argue. But for an 82-game season beginning in early July, as the league proposed a week ago, players would need to be in spring training, Part 2, by the middle of June.

"The exact drop-dead, I don't know, but it has to be within like a week or so," one person with knowledge of the discussions said of an 82-game schedule.


The Post's Joel Sherman published an excellent column yesterday, suggesting the old canard of "greedy players" be retired forever. That won't happen, but in these times it's good to see more people acknowledging reality:
I think the players have a responsibility to help find a financial solution that allows major league baseball to be played this year. ...

I think the players are more than just the employees. They also are stewards of the game ...

Here is what I don't think: The players are greedy. That designation was tired when it was said about Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax and Reggie Jackson. I get it you played baseball as a kid and think you would do it for free as a profession. You wouldn't. No one works for free.

You think the money would be better spent on nurses and teachers. Agreed. Redirect all you spent that helped make MLB an $11 billion industry last year to nurses and teachers. If there is less money in the game, players will make less. ... As a society we have decided to value this particular rare skill set. You and corporations paid the $11 billion. Owners gave roughly half of that to players, as they did pretty much every year before a pandemic. No one had a gun to anyone's head to spend it.

You think the players' salaries have priced you out of tickets. Except the Orioles and Tigers cut their payrolls by $100 million each from 2017 to 2020. Were either lowering ticket prices to reflect the savings and certitude of a worse product?

Add it all up and returning to the "greedy" player feels like wool uniforms — something that should have been retired long ago.

The owners have gotten used to winning negotiations, the last collective bargaining agreement for sure, with the minor leagues, with umpires, with getting caps on the draft and international spending. They have done this with a strategy more jackhammer than stiletto. This is what any business does — tries to get the most production for the least cost. ...

Players endure capped systems in either the draft or internationally at the entry level. They have to work through the minors, often for several years, making wages often below poverty levels. Those who reach the majors cannot seek an open market for six or, if their service time is manipulated, seven seasons (think those who have had their service manipulated trust owners right now?). In the first three years, teams can pay major leaguers whatever they want, usually close to the minimum. The next three to four years, the teams have an arbitration system that, yes, begins to pay players better, but within confines and without a free market providing true value in what often are players’ most productive seasons.

In recent years, analytic front offices have smartly — but coldly — figured out how to get similar production for less cost, lowering many bars for arbitration-eligible players and free agents. One of the strategies is to keep the pay down on one end with all of the rules, then say the player is too old to get real money when he is finally free. ...

Also, whatever a player earns, we all will know it. We have no idea what owners make, which is central to the union complaint. MLB is crying poor but the Players Association is dubious.