Around the Horn
Manfred threatens to continue expanded playoffs past 2020
The current Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, is "a fan of the expanded playoffs." He's repeatedly spoken about expanding the playoff format, even before this season, and said during a Hofstra Universtiy event that "there’s a lot to commend [the 2020 postseason format] and it is one of those changes that I hope becomes a permanent part of our landscape."
We've now passed the two-thirds mark in the 2020 miniature schedule, and so far Your Seattle Mariners have done a fairly OK job in achieving their goals in this bizzaro-not-really-a-season. There's been good, there's been bad, and because this is the Mariners, you know there has been ugly. But on the whole they've done all right; thanks to the pandemic and the short schedule and the lack of minor leagues and all the rest, 2020 has been first and foremost about evaluation. Winning will resume as a priority next year (fingers crossed).
Believe it or not, we are now halfway through the season. With a miniaturized 60-game schedule, 2020 was always going to feel weird, and it's been interesting to notice how both expectations and attitudes about the campaign have evolved as that weirdness settled in.
I am genuinely surprised. The blowback on MLB generally and the commissioner's office specifically over the Miami Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak has actually resulted in Commissioner Manfred taking the Marlins off the schedule for the time being.
"MLB’s worst nightmare"
Pay particular attention to the transaction wires today. Specifically, the Miami lines. Look for anyone going on the injured list for "unspecified reasons." Check the Phillies, too.
Game One thoughts
What do you know. The season really did start. Three weeks ago I'd have put money on it not starting, but then I should have had more faith in the abilities of Commissioner Manfred and the other Major League Baseball powers that be to ignore anything that might get in between them and money. Pandemic, shmandemic.
More 2020 logistics as MLB rolls the dice with 2020
Make of this what you will—the District of Columbia gave the Washington Nationals an exemption to its COVID-19 isolation policy, saying players may forego the 14-day quarantine if they become infected so long as they restrict themselves to Nationals Park and their residences/hotels for the two-week period, while the Canadian federal government has denied a similar exemption to the Toronto Blue Jays, so there will be no games played in Canada and the Jays have to find somewhere else to call home for 2020.
Will 2020 be baseball's Titanic?
I heard the various preparations of sports leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic described today as being akin to "a press release at the launch of the Titanic." It's not my phrase; I think it was Chris Hayes who coined it. But whomever gets the credit, it's certainly apt.
The reward of a functional society
Preseason training camps are in session and the season is still scheduled to begin in less than three weeks, but Major League Baseball's preparations for play in the age of COVID-19 are proving to be, well, less than robust.
The weird 2020 faux-season is scheduled to begin in a few weeks, and considering its various rule alterations and pandemic protocols, one issue continues to rankle me like no other, because it threatens to last a lot longer than this bizarre year of coronavirus: The "universal DH."I loathe the designated hitter rule. It was a bad idea when the American League implemented it in 1973 and it's bad today and it'll be bad tomorrow. It should not be made universal, it should be metaphorically burned with fire until no trace of it remains.
Even in a short 2020 season the schedule will be f-ed
I wasn't in favor of Interleague play when it started, in 1997. I knew then that the novelty of it would wear off in a few years and that it did nothing good for the game, in fact it detracted from the All-Star Game and the World Series. (These things remain true, by the way.)
The COVID factor
Commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken: Major League Baseball will open a truncated season on July 23rd, with a preseason training camp to begin July 3rd after players report no later than July 1st. The season will last 60 games and end September 27th. So sayeth the almighty Rob.
Keep digging that hole
A little more than a week ago, I wrote that the Commissioner's office and the MLBPA needed to stop digging as they fell further and further into the hole they were creating for themselves with the general public. They didn't take my advice, of course, and today we have Commissioner Rob Manfred essentially threatening to pull the plug on a 2020 season that wasn't likely to happen anyway because of made-up offenses committed by the players' union.
Commissioner's Office fans flames of discord once again
It boggles the mind. Really. The actions taken by the office of the Commissioner of baseball, representing the ownership groups of the 30 major league clubs, in the ongoing "negotiations" with the MLB Players' Association regarding a potential truncated 2020 season, have been unbelievably foolish.
When you find yourself stuck in a hole, the first rule of thumb is to stop digging. Sadly, the Commissioner's Office, Major League club owners, and the Major League Baseball Players' Association can't seem to put down their shovels.
If I were Commissioner
There is a lot of disagreement among baseball fans. Is the DH a good thing? (Answer: no.) Is it better to hit 50 home runs or bat .350? (Answer: .350.) Do newfangled sabermetric stats like WAR mean anything? (Answer: sort of.) Views on these and many other topics big and small will differ and be fodder for arguments in the bleachers until the end of time.
The next team to relocate
The Major Leagues have been pretty stable over the past few decades. Though there were plenty of threats by a few ownership groups, the only team to shift from one home to another in nearly 50 years was the Montréal Expos, who moved to Washington to become the Nationals in 2005. But for a stretch of time, teams were hopscotching all over the country.
Commissioner's Office issues another half-baked plan for 2020
Another week, another silly conversation about starting up the 2020 Major League Baseball season. It was already tiresome, but I guess we'll keep doing this.
Plans for a new Opening Day are foolhardy
Sigh. It's like there's a new one every week now: A "plan" to start the Major League Baseball season in some fashion amid the coronavirus crisis.
Home runs are boring
Those that know me well know that my favorite ballclub of all time has nothing to do with the Mariners. Long before I became a Northwesterner, way back in the pre-Internet days, I followed the Majors the best I could from a minor-league town. We had the newspaper box scores. The NBC Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons and Monday Night Baseball on ABC. Cable TV was a novelty, but my mom splurged for it so I had access to a few "superstations" that carried National League games from Chicago, Atlanta, and New York and our local radio carried...
Dylan Moore, the utility man currently competing in spring training to reclaim his bench role with the Mariners, is out of action observing concussion protocol after an injury suffered in last Wednesday's exhibition game against the Reds. Moore clocked his head against the knee of Reds infielder José Garcia while diving into second base, attempting a steal.
Manfred is bad for baseball
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred held a press conference today from the Atlanta Braves' spring facility that addressed the ongoing fallout from the Houston Astros' cheating scandal. It did not go well for Mr. Manfred, for Major League Baseball, or for the concept of justice.
Quit Screwing With My Game
As you may have read elsewhere, Major League Baseball is considering yet more changes to be implemented in 2022. This is in addition to the changes already enacted last year and several that will begin this coming season. And I'm getting pretty damn tired of it.
My Hall of Fame ballot
Ballots are cast for inducting new members to the baseball Hall of Fame by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. I don't get a vote. But if I did, I would take the privilege seriously and try to be dispassionate in my selections. Meaning I would even vote for Jeter.
End of season potpourri
Well, that was a fun World Series, eh? The Washington Nationals won their first championship (as either the Nats or the Expos), the Astros were denied bragging rights, and weirdness abounded—the road team won every game (unprecedented); the umpiring was comically bad at times; an assistant GM got fired; Gerrit Cole lost a game; Justin Verlander lost two games; and on a team with Cole and Verlander, the best start for Houston came from a rookie most of us had never heard of.Solid. Too bad it was one of the lowest-rated ever in terms of TV viewers. People missed out.
Game 2: The schizophrenic game
For six innings, Game 2 of the World Series was much like Game 1: a tight, well-executed battle between two outstanding pitchers and pennant-winning defenses. With the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros tied at 2-2 since the first inning, every hit was tense, every baserunner potentially pivotal, every defensive play important.
Game 1: Surprising, yet as expected
Hey, that was fun, wasn't it?
World Series primer
And then there were two.
2019: Actually not that bad
It's over. The long slog of the season, the Dog Days of Summer, the grind of 162 games. Done for another solar orbit. For the 18th year in a row, Your Seattle Mariners head into October as spectators for the playoffs, adding another number to their ignominious total of years as the only American League franchise never to reach the World Series.
New Yankee Stadium
Getting back to the digression from a few weeks back, when I took off on a week-long east coast non-Mariner road trip, a look at new Yankee Stadium. This is out of order, as we went to Philadelphia before New York (and after Washington), but I still don't have my Philly photos available, so I'm shuffling the deck a bit.
I'm gonna sleep until Tuesday
Apologies. I had intended to post more frequently during my just-completed non-Mariners road trip, but circumstances—including 15-inning games, wifi failures, camera battery issues, and other stuff—hindered that plan. But I have returned now, and all the tech necessary is available and time is less restricted.
This week's non-Mariners road trip began with two games at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Both games were against the Atlanta Braves and both were won by the visitors, though the home Nats did make things interesting at the end of the contests.Some thoughts on Nationals Park as a facility:
I wasn't supposed to be at tonight's Mariners-Angels game. In my season ticket group's draft, this game went to another guy, Grant. But Grant decided to head to Cooperstown to see Edgar Martínez get inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, so he put tonight's tix up for grabs and I said, sure, I'll take ’em, even though it is the frickin' Angels AGAIN and not even a Marco Gonzales game.
The "opener." The "headliner." You may have heard these terms being bandied about lately on Mariner and other Major League teams' broadcasts or read them elsewhere in the baseball press. It refers to a fad—some would charitably call it a "strategy"—that has become increasingly popular among big-league managers this season and that has infected Scott Servais and the Mariners over the past couple of weeks.
Don't despair (yet)
Last month I said don't get happy. The hot start for the 2019 Mariners was likely a mirage, but there was still real hope that it might not be. The offense was really cooking in the first couple of weeks and the only concerns were that the bullpen would blow up and that the defense would give way too many runs. Was it sustainable? Probably not, but still...
Don't Get Happy (Yet)
Don't look now, but Your Seattle Mariners are the best team in the American League.
With the Mariners opening the season in Tokyo and playing a couple of exhibitions against the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants beforehand—M's 2, Yomiuri 0, thank you very much—I thought it might be fun to take a look at not only those Giants, but the Japanese Majors in general. In this modern Internet age, it isn't terribly hard to follow Nippon Professional Baseball during the season, though it does help if you can read a little Japanese—at least enough for the box scores. Some games are even "televised" online, though one would have to do a little work to get around a...
Change of Clothes
Looking at the Mariners' new spring training duds and the new uniform set the Marlins have this year got me to thinking about the Mariners' history of sartorial styles. The current uniform concept is, aside from some minor tweaks in the wordmark and number outlining and an early addition of the compass rose on the road jersey, unchanged since it was introduced in 1993. Which isn't bad. It's a nice design, and light-years better than what came before it. But might it be time for something new?
The lack of activity around baseball this offseason has generated a lot of fretting and anxiety with the Major League Baseball Players' Association, with some voices alleging collusion among clubs not to offer high-priced free-agent contracts. Though the current collective bargaining agreement between the MLBPA and ownership, represented by commissioner Rob Manfred, is in place through 2021, some in the players' union are already talking about a strike if negotiations on the next CBA don't go their way.
On the Eve of Destruction: Universal DH proposed
Acouple weeks back, we noted that Major League Baseball had proposed some small rule changes for next season and beyond, tweaks to do with time a player would have to spend on the disabled list and time necessary to spend in the minors after being optioned down. Now, according to a piece by Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic, the players' union has responded with a counter-proposal that expands on MLB's change ideas and adds an explosive to the conversation.
Manfred's wish list
Unable to leave well enough alone, the powers that be at Major League Baseball are seeking more changes to the league rules, according to a source that spoke to the Associated Press this week. The proposed changes just heard about would be in off-field rules concerning the Disabled List and minor-league options, and they're not necessarily bad ideas, but these days when I see "new rule coming" I immediately become suspicious.
With General Manager Jerry Dipoto on another of his trading benders, the Mariners' roster is undergoing some stark change. Though Dipoto is by no means done tinkering—as we'll see, there are still some holes to fill—if games had to be played tomorrow, how things would look on the field?
By Any Other (Corporate) Name
We've known for a while now that the Mariners' home field would get a new name by next season. Safeco Insurance's deal for naming rights to the stadium expired at the end of the 2018 season and they were up front about not being interested in extending their association with the facility, so the speculation began in earnest last spring: Which corporate behemoth would step up to replace Safeco and brand their identity all over our beautiful ballpark?
Having two Game 163s to watch Monday was supposed to make for a great day, but it turned out to only be half a great day. Yeah, I have rooting interests, and they were only half met on Monday, but regardless of favored teams we saw one outstanding game with lots of drama and one snoozer with none at all.
Wait 'til next year
We all knew it was coming, but the Mariners were officially eliminated from playoff contention last Friday when the Oakland A's won their game against Minnesota. The promise and giddy joy of the first half of the season, slowly ebbing away since the loss to the Angels on the fourth of July, irrevocably crushed under the cleats of Matt Chapman and company.
I didn't go to any of the three Dodger games at Safeco Field this past weekend. I had other things going on and no affinity or special dislike of the Dodgers, plus I knew the ticket pricing would be exorbitant, so I skipped the series. This turned out to be a good choice.
Two in a row is a start(?)
The Mariners are on a winning streak. Not an impressive one, sure, but two games is technically a streak. And with the way the M's have performed since they broke their last actual win streak—eight games—on July 4th, two in a row feels like a notable achievement. We all hope this is the beginning of the resurgence Seattle needs to reclaim its playoff standing, but a win like tonight's doesn't do much to calm the nerves of the Mariner still-for-now-but-for-how-much-longer-faithful.
When the Royals were last in town, I was offered a ticket to my choice of one of the three games in that series. I looked at the schedule, saw that the Saturday game had the fun "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion and nearly picked that one, but then I looked at the pitching rotation and saw Marco Gonzales' name for the Friday game. "Friday," I told my friend with the ticket connection, "no question." The King still reigns and Big Maple is the undisputed ace, but the guy I want to see pitch is Marco.
So, the fans, the players, and the Commissioner's office have spoken. Only three Seattle Mariners have been selected for the 2018 AL All-Star team: Edwin Díaz, Mitch Haniger, and Nelson Cruz. Something is broken.
Tom Hutyler is Bad at His Job
I've got a few pet peeves when it comes to the ballpark experience at Safeco Field. Aside from what the Mariners do on the field, I mean.
The Balancing Act of an MLB Schedule
Is it just me, or does anyone else think the Mariners' schedule is a bit wack?
PEDs: Make 'Em Pay
I was traveling yesterday and thus unable to write or post anything about yesterday's big news, the 80-game suspension of Robinson Canó, until now. I was, however, able to listen to sports radio as I drove and absorb what reactions the news was generating among the Mariner fanbase and mediascape. It was interesting.
An Unlikely Champion for Daniel Vogelbach
Now, don't get me wrong. Dee Gordon is my guy. He's fast, he bunts, he steals, he hits, he defends. My kind of player. But I've become an enthusiastic booster for Daniel Vogelbach.Vogey is not my kind of player. He's slow, he bashes, he has to work hard not to be relegated to DH. And to me, someone who grew up a devotee of Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals of the 1980s, he represents the antithesis of cool. Cool was Vince Coleman and Willie McGee burning up the basepaths, Ozzie Smith turning cartwheels as well as double-plays, and Tommy Herr...
New Minor League Rule Goes Too Far
Commissioner Rob Manfred and baseball executives in general have had a bee in their bonnet about "pace of play" for some time now. They think baseball is allowing games to take too long, that fans don't have the patience for a three-hour game in this modern age of short attention spans and digital distractions.
How Much is a Mariners Game Ticket?
Determining the price of a Mariners ticket is a complicated matter these days.