Baseball is not back yet and now the word around the game is that they’re shooting for a return on July 4 (which is actually pretty cool) with the season lasting through October 15 and then giving Dodger Stadium a neutral-site World Series to make up for no All-Star Game. Of course, if the Dodgers are in the World Series, they’d move it to Anaheim or San Diego so as not to give them a home field advantage in all seven games. Because yeah, nobody would drive to either of those parks and still give them an insane crowd advantage. Sure. In this plan, that’s three and a half months of baseball which is roughly 100 games or so. Add in a handful of double headers, and I suppose we could see a 112-game season maybe. At this point, though, any date or number is absolute conjecture. I still believe we’ll see baseball in empty stadiums for at least part of whatever shortened season we get, but there’s no way to know anything really.
- The agreement regarding all things shortened season that came out last week (or maybe this week, what is time really?) has some definite positives and negatives. For the players, getting their service time from 2019 to count in 2020 if there is no season is a huge positive. It means the Dodgers could potentially have given up a decent package for a player who might not ever suit up for them. For the Royals, it hurts them quite a bit as well. While the Ian Kennedy contract wasn’t going, let’s say, as planned, his conversion to relief last year gave them some sort of out where they could likely receive value for him in the final year of his contract. It limits the trade value of Jorge Soler if they’re unable to find a contract extension that works for both sides. It limits the trade value of Whit Merrifield if they decided to deal him at some point this year. Heck, it even makes for a difficult decision with Maikel Franco becuase he’ll be arbitration eligible for a final time after the season and they’ll have missed out on an opportunity to evaluate him and determine if they want to keep him at all, keep him for his final year of team control or extend him long-term. For a guy like Ryan McBroom entering his age-28 season, it robs him of what could have, based on age, being his career year. Ultimately, I really do believe that there’s a season to be played, albeit short, but if there’s not, the service time aspect was a big, big win for the players and a big, big loss for the teams, even if they did negotiate to mitigate the monetary loss in what they’d pay the players.
- Of course, in making this deal, the players completely threw their future brethren under the bus by allowing the draft to be shortened to his little as five rounds and max out the bonuses for undrafted players at $20,000. The 40-round draft, down from 50, down from unlimited, is probably too long if we’re being honest. And I imagine, as my good friend Clint Scoles has mentioned, that the owners and Rob Manfred see this as an opportunity to eliminate the need for some minor league teams. But still, organizations have farm teams that need to be filled and that’s a big reason why the draft is as long as it’s been. But even if they decided to cut the draft in half and go to 20 rounds, it would be more understandable than only five (which isn’t a done deal yet, I should mention). The idea is to help to limit bonuses paid out as teams aren’t bringing in any revenue over these months, but it’s a slap in the face to those who have been waiting their whole lives to maybe be an eighth round draft pick and get a bonus that exceeds the maximum of $20,000. And, as a side note, for any players who just want to get into professional baseball and are willing to sign for that $20k, I worry that the Royals will be left out in the cold on so many of these players based on a reputation that probably isn’t the reality anymore. Every team can afford multiple players at that cost. It would take 50 just to get to $1 million. Not that this’ll be likely or even possible, but if a team said they’re going to spend $5 million on undrafted players and bring in 250, it’d be the best $5 million the organization has likely ever spent. But a team with a great reputation like the Dodgers, who would have the money to sign 2500 players (again, not possible, but just to drive home the point) would likely be able to sign all of the players they want while a team with a reputation like the Royals that probably doesn’t match reality after all their changes would be left with table scraps. You can argue that’s the Royals fault for cultivating that reputation, and it absolutely is, but it doesn’t change that this system is likely ultimately not what you’d call great for them.
- The thing I keep coming back to when figuring whether they’ll play at all this season is that if there’s a way to get guys on the field and playing, the league will do whatever they can to make that happen. Follow the money. If they don’t play, it’s not there. To me, it’s as simple as that. And even if they end up playing a 90-game season or whatever, I have to think they’re likely to do that. And while butts in seats does provide a fair amount of revenue for a team, the real money comes from the butts elsewhere. The television deals are the real money makers for a lot of teams, so being able to get eyeballs on them will help to squeeze out as many dollars as possible. The issue, of course, is safety. Sure it’s easy to say they can just play without fans, which, by the way, provides for the opportunity to essentially play anywhere since people are just watching on television anyway, but what happens if a player tests positive. That’s an answer I don’t have, and if I did I probably wouldn’t be spending time writing blogs about the Royals. At least not as regularly as I do. But the fact of the matter is that if they can find a way to play, they will. It’s in the best interest of the organization and it’s what the players want to do based on everything we’re hearing. Zack Britton was on MLB Network Radio yesterday and had a really interesting comment saying that he knows there are multiple potential other sites that have been discussed for the Yankees. He kind of backtracked saying that maybe he shouldn’t be talking about it, but just the fact that those discussions are being had tells me they’re going to figure out a way to get guys on the field this year. Of course, that’s easy to say with only a handful of games lost to this point, but I really think they’re going to do everything they can to play even if it may not be the best decision for the health of the players.
- As you all undoubtedly know, I’ve been thinking a lot about old baseball memories and one that came to mind recently was from that magical start to the 2003 season. If you all remember the next Tom Glavine, Chris George, a few friends and I attended one of his starts during the 9-0 start to the season. It was the fourth game of the season and it was cold, 44 degrees at first pitch to be exact. So you can imagine that even with a 3-0 start, the fans weren’t exactly there in droves. Announced attendance was around 15,000. Actual attendance had to be in the 3,500 range. Anyway, the Royals of course won that game with a four-run second and ended up taking it 5-1. George pitched well, going 6.2 innings, giving up just one run and only walking one. The thing that will always stand out to me is that Tim Laker hit a foul ball sometime in the middle innings. We were sitting way down the right field line, close to the foul pole and this ball popped into the stands hitting on the concourse that divides the 100-level seats from the 200-level seats. It was so empty that game that we moved not so quickly from our seats probably two sections from the foul pole to what is now section 231 to retrieve that foul ball. And we didn’t face any competition. That’s just a stupid little anecdote from the early days of a season that captivated the city for awhile, but for some reason it sticks in my head and I felt like I should share. George was solid his next time out too, but then had a 7.82 ERA the rest of the year over 81,2 innings. He did go 7-6 and the team was 9-7 in those final 14 starts, so there’s that I guess.