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MLB To Test New Experimental Rules In Minor Leagues

Robot umpires and larger bases are just some of the major changes the MLB will be testing out.

Baseball and Glove

Remembering Hall Of Fame Pitcher Don Sutton

Don Sutton, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander who won over 300 games in his legendary Hall of Fame career, has passed away. His son Daron announced on social media that his father died this Monday night in his home in Rancho Mirage, California from cancer, he was 75-years-old. 

“Saddened to share that my dad passed away in his sleep last night. He worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever known and he treated those he encountered with great respect…and he took me to work a lot. For all these things, I am very grateful. Rest In Peace.”

Sutton’s career famously began and ended with the Dodgers. Of the 23 seasons that he played 16 were with the Dodgers; initially from 1966 to 1980, and then returning for his final tour in 1988. He was a four-time All-Star with a career 324-256 mark and a 3.26 ERA. His 324 wins rank 14th in major league history, according to reports from ESPN.

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Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten released a statement as well, remembering the legend as a “great ballplayer, great broadcaster, and, most importantly, a great person.”  

“Don left an indelible mark on the Dodger franchise during his 16 seasons in Los Angeles and many of his records continue to stand to this day. I was privileged to have worked with Don in both Atlanta and Washington, and will always cherish our time spent together.”

Sutton also pitched for the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, and Los Angeles Angels. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame back in 1998. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called Sutton a “model of durability on the mount,” in a tribute he posted this week. 

“Don Sutton was one of our game’s most consistent winning pitchers across his decorated 23-year career. Throughout his career, Don represented our game with great class, and many will remember his excitement during his trips to Cooperstown. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Don’s family, friends and the many fans he earned throughout a memorable life in our National Pastime,” Manfred continued. 

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Sutton is right behind other baseball legends Cy Young and Nolan Ryan in terms of the amount of starts he accomplished throughout his career. According to data reports Sutton recorded just one 20-win season, but managed to earn 10 or more wins in every season he played; except for 1983 and 1988. 

“Sutton ranks third all-time in games started and seventh in innings pitched (5,282⅓). He worked at least 200 innings in 20 of his first 21 seasons, with only the shortened 1981 season interrupting his streak,” according to ESPN. 

Sutton was born in Clio, Alabama in 1945. His family moved to Florida when he was a little older and in high school he became extremely dedicated to playing baseball. In junior college he played before getting signed to the Dodgers as a free agent back in 1964. He made his big league debut on April 14th 1966 when he helped his team defend their World Series championship, and earned his first victory four days later. After his playing career, Sutton still knew he wanted to keep professional baseball in his life, so he became an analyst for the Atlanta Braves for 28 seasons, where he would call games on both radio and television. The Braves recently released a statement remembering all the amazing times they had with Sutton over the years:

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend, Don Sutton. A generation of Braves fans came to know his voice. … Don was as feared on the mound as he was beloved in the booth. A 300-game winner who was a four-time All-Star, Don brought an unmatched knowledge of the game and his sharp wit to his calls. But despite all the success, Don never lost his generous character or humble personality.”

Baseball Player

MLB Postseason Games Will Be Played At Bubble Site

MLB has revealed this week that the World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers new ballpark in Arlington, Texas. The division series, league championship series, and World Series will all be a part of the bubble experience in Texas as a means of reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure. This is the first time the World Series will be played in its entirety at one location since 1944. 

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was recently interviewed by the Associated Press following the announcement on Tuesday, where he claimed MLB was already happy with the players responses to the health and safety protocols they’ve endured throughout this season, but this will make the entire staff working for the league feel even more secure. 

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“The elimination of travel is obviously positive because it cuts exposure. Less interaction outside with the group that you’re looking to protect is a huge positive.”

After playing the entire season in empty stadiums, MLB is also hoping by remaining in one remote location they’ll be able to reopen their doors to fill the ballparks at 25% distanced capacity. Other adjustments include the elimination of off days for the division and league championship series’. This decision is projected to impact each team’s decision making in regards to how many pitchers they’ll carry out for postseason games. 

The postseason also expanded from 10 to 16 days, and will begin with the top four seeds in each league that’s been hosting a wild-card series in their regular-season home ballparks. The final eight teams will shift to the bubble environments, according to union head Tony Clark. 

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“The agreement attempts to balance players’ experiences and concerns while making the accommodations necessary to best ensure a safe, healthy, and successful conclusion to the 2020 season.”

The AL Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League Championship Series at Globe Life. The AL Division Series will be at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. There’s no concrete plan to invite fans back into the stadiums for these series, but it is a goal nonetheless. 

MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem recently sent a memo to all teams where he claimed that the players’ association were “in the process of finalizing details of the agreements” which includes testing players daily during the postseason. 

During the transition period between the regular season and postseason, any player who lives by themselves, or with a spouse/partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs may quarantine at home as long as they receive special documentation from a physician.

Only spouses, domestic partners, children, and child-care providers are allowed to stay with players while they quarantine during the transition period, according to Halem, and family members will not be allowed to enter the bubble site hotels unless they complete a supervised week-long quarantine period. 

Players can, however, have up to 6 family members stay at separate “family hotels” located at four various sites near the stadium.

Baseball Stadium

MLB Plans To Show Support For ‘Black Lives Matter’ Throughout 2020 Season

Major League Baseball made it’s return this week and it’s putting one of the biggest social justice movements in US history at the forefront of its condensed season. MLB players will be putting the Black Lives Matter movement at center stage as they play for crowdless arenas in the coming weeks. 

Due to Covid-19 concerns, MLB has spent the past few months trying to plan the most effective way to continue with the 2020 season while keeping all employees and players safe. After weeks of deliberation the sporting league was able to finalize plans for the season that’s starting this week. 

The Black Lives Matter “BLM” logo is now accompanying the MLB one on the pitcher’s mound. This Thursday fans at home watched the Washington Nationals Play the Los Angeles Dodgers with the logo freshly painted on the mound for all to see. The Tampa Bay Rays tweeted on Thursday in solidarity with the movement, specifically in relation to the murder of Breonna Taylor. 

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Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants kneel prior to the national anthem before their game at Dodger Stadium on July 23, 2020

“Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” the Rays tweeted.

The Boston Red Sox retweeted the message to their 2.1 million followers, prompting a massive wave of support and sharing online from fans. The Nationals, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are just a few of the teams that have pledged to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘United For Change’ patches on their baseball uniforms, which will also feature a new MLB logo that depicts the player as black. 

This will be the first time a new logo such as this will be used on the field, and players couldn’t be more thrilled. The Nationals and Yankee’s even took their uniforms one step further and just wore T-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” on them during Thursday’s pre-game. During Thursday’s national anthem, all players and coaches kneeled while holding a long black ribbon in unity with one another. The official MLB twitter account posted the photo in solidarity with the movement, causing fans to call on all other major sports leagues to “step it up” in terms of their support for Black Lives Matter. 

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“Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change injustices. Equality is not just a word it’s our right!”

The logos and tweets of support are just small parts of a new policy from MLB. The policy calls on the MLB players, the Players Alliance, and all other staff working within the MLB to enhance initiatives to improve Black representation in baseball both on and off-the-field. The league will also be expanding charitable donations to black owned/run organizations as well as continuing to give black players more of a platform during games. 

The policy also allows players to write messages on their cleats and uniforms in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; sporting uniforms in general are very sacred and often not written on in general. While baseball is known as one of the first sports to integrate black and white players on the field, they also are aware of the vast history of racism within MLB, and are working to reckon it everyday.

Baseball Game

Several MLB Players Test Positive For Covid-19

Major League Baseball has informed their players union this week that several major-league players and coaches have recently tested positive for Covid-19. The announcement comes shortly after the players union heard a pitch to begin baseball season under new regulations; there’s been a massive hold up for baseball specifically over labor disputes and salary. 

Now, these new cases may cancel the season altogether. Fears of a second-wave have already flooded the nation as over 20 states have now reported new cases of the virus within the past week. MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem said that the second-wave worries were the initial reason that they wanted to end the season by September 27th in their initial proposal. 

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However, MLB fans were quick to attack the MLB for delaying the season as a way of getting out of playing regular games and getting straight to the playoffs; a claim Halem has adamantly denied, stating that the players and staffs health and safety has always been the top priority when discussing the future of the 2020 season.  

Halem recently wrote a letter to lead union attorney Bruce Meyer, stating: “Your recent letters have all expressed the concern, in one form or another, that players are being ‘asked to take on extraordinary burdens and risks in the current environment. However, the Association’s proposals to play as many games as possible, as deep into the fall as possible, increases the health risks to players and staff, which is not something we are prepared to do.”

Halem went on to claim that he and the players disagree with Meyer’s “assertion that [their] concern about player health and safety in the midst of the greatest health crisis in our lifetime is a ‘pretext’ to play fewer games.” He then cited a letter from the Office of the Commissioner from March that claimed the MLB would be using their best efforts to start the 2020 season, however, player health and safety was going to be the biggest concern. 

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Obviously in March, a majority of the country was remaining blissfully ignorant at the reality of a worldwide health pandemic occurring. However, as time quickly showed us, this is definitely one of the biggest public health crises the world has ever seen. That same attitude has transferred over into every job industry, especially in regards to entertainment/sports. 

At the end of March the MLB, along with other major sports leagues in America, all made comprehensive plans of ways to continue on their sports season once cases of Covid began to decrease. Unfortunately as we all know, the cases only continued to increase, and at an exponential rate. 

Medical and health officials who have worked with the MLB and its players in the past have already warned executives that they should anticipate that the virus situation will be getting much worse in the fall. 

“The proliferation of COVID-19 outbreaks around the country over the last week, and the fact that we already know of several 40-man roster players and staff who have tested positive, has increased the risks associated with commencing spring training in the next few weeks. I note that both the NBA and NHL, two leagues which you repeatedly reference in your letter, do not intend to resume play until about August 1, and both intend to resume play at a limited number of sites with a quarantine approach,” Halem continued in his letter. 

For now, like every other industry and system in the world, only time will tell how much worse this pandemic will get/impact the future of sports entertainment. In the meantime it’s important to remain diligent when out in public and always wear a mask, socially distance, and disinfect when you return home.

Baseball Glove

New MLB Proposal To Players Association Calls For 76-Game Season

Major League Baseball has made a new proposal to the Major League Baseball Players Association that is offering players 75% of their prorated salaries over the course of a shortened 76-game season. 

ESPN’s own, Karl Ravech, took to Twitter this past weekend to report on the proposal, in which he further explained that the season would aim to finish by September 27th with a postseason ending in October. The proposal also apparently makes “significant moves towards players demands” according to Ravech. 

Later in the day ESPN’s Jeff Passan took to Twitter to further explain the proposal that Ravech touched on, claiming that it would in fact be a 76-game season with a 75% prorated salary per player; this would equate to a total of $1,431,716,000 in additional compensations. That would equate to $1,909,436 per player for the 76 games, according to Passan

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Additionally, the proposal calls for up to 8 playoff teams per league. Teams that lose any of their free agents will receive a draft pick for other players that sign a multiyear deal of $35 million or more, or players with one-year deals offering $17.8 million in salary. Spring training will last for 21 days and the season will begin around July 10th. If a postseason occurs, each player will receive an additional $393,000 to their salaries.

It’s predicted, however, that the Major League Baseball Players Association will be rejecting this proposal, according to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich; two established sports journalists who write for The Athletic. The two journalists do agree that Major League Baseball will make an appearance in 2020, just not under these specific circumstances. 

The reasoning behind their lack of confidence in the players association approving this proposal is because it’s the third one to be presented to the group. The first proposal called for an 82-season game with a sliding-scale payment structure based on participation in the season, while the second proposed a 50-game season with a 33% prorated salary throughout. 

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“The MLBPA regards today’s offer from MLB to be worse than the league’s last because it shifts greater emphasis on risk sharing in the postseason. Players would receive 50 percent of pro rata if there is no postseason, 75 if there is. To put it another way, MLB’s offer can be said to represent a 50 percent per-game pay cut with a potential upside of a 25 percent cut,” tweeted Evan Drellich.

Bob Nightengale, a sports journalist for USA Today, agreed with Drellich’s above tweet, claiming that MLB views the latest offer as a major “step backwards.” The difficulty lies in the fact that the players made their own prorated agreement with the team owners back in March, however, as the pandemic continued to worsen, plans have obviously changed. 

The other difficulty lies in the fact that MLB is trying to prepare for the enormous lack of money they’d be making this season with no fans able to attend the games, purchase memorabilia, food, etc. due to Covid-19 concerns. The players have responded to this concern by stating that owners should “keep any surplus revenue in good years so they could absorb the hit in one year,” according to Nightingale. 

Players also are tired of the constant salary negotiations, as they already agreed to major pay cuts/ prorated salaries in March and don’t want to keep renegotiating for a season they don’t even know the full structure of yet. It’s predicted that the players association will come to some sort of conclusion in the coming week, as all members of MLB are still projecting to start the season in July, so for now, only time will tell when that’ll be.

MLB

MLB Owners Move To Pass Proposal That Would Start Baseball Season In July

Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have created a proposal that they will be submitting to the players union that could potentially lead to a delayed baseball season that would begin around the Fourth of July, instead of June. The proposal comes as an obvious response to the coronavirus pandemic and indefinite cancellations of all major sporting events in the United States until this pandemic is over.

Spring training would likely start in early to mid-June if the proposal comes into fruition. However, MLB officials will need the stamp of approval from the players union before any decisions are made, and it’s expected that the union is gonna put up quite the fight to keep players home.

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“If you do anything that resembles a cap, that smells like a cap, you’ve given too much. A salary cap has been a non-starter for the players as long as I’ve been in baseball. I think when MLB is proposing a revenue split, it is with the full knowledge that the players’ union will automatically reject that,” said David Samson, former president of the Expos and Marlins.

The proposal claims that each player would play about 82 regular-season games against opponents within their own division. Postseason games would expand out from 10 clubs to 14 by “doubling wild cards in each league to four.” Teams are likely going to want to play at their regular-season ballparks, however, if MLB can’t get proper government approval to have home games, teams will have to switch to either spring training stadiums or any other neutral meeting sites.

“We’ll see where we will be in July, California is the home of five MLB clubs and [they’ve all] talked with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. We certainly look forward to Major League Baseball and all sports resuming. But again, the question is when and that will be determined on the basis of public health and public safety and the spread of this virus,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

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Players, however, aren’t so convinced that we’ll be returning to a life of normalcy anytime soon, and based off what we’ve heard before in terms of professional athlete protections, most MLB players want what everyone wants; health protections for all players, families, staff, and employees involved. The logistics of ensuring everyone is consistently healthy while also having access to proper testing hasn’t even been mastered in America in general yet.

Teams will likely propose to have access to part of their 2020 salaries based on a split between what they would be making during regular and postseason. The proposal will also cover the concept of fans being able to return to ballparks at some point, which could involve inviting a few spectators at first and slowly increasing the number of bodies in the stands.

Most teams have already been given the chance to begin spring-training on their own, which many players have done, as opposed to travelling to be with their team. In March, the MLB called for each player to receive only a portion of their salary amid the pandemic. Players believe this specific agreement should still be followed as the basis for all future economic decisions involving MLB employees and players.

Again, the biggest concern is following proper health and safety guidelines and keeping everyone healthy while enduring a potential new baseball season. For now, only time will tell how all professional sports, along with the rest of the world, will be able to return to a life of normalcy.

Baseball Glove

Major League Baseball Hit With Sign Stealing Scandal

A recent report has exploded in Major League Baseball with accusations that the Houston Astros have been involved in a cheating scandal. Claims have been made that the team were stealing signs during the 2017 World Series, helping them in their winning campaign. The shocking allegations have accused Astros pitcher Mike Fiers as one of four players illegally stealing signs.

An issue that has dogged the history of the MLB, sign stealing occurs when a player, usually on second base, decodes and relays the catcher’s signal that has been made to the batter. Although the act is regarded unfavorably among the sport, using the electronic equipment has now made it an illegal act, meaning the Astros could face severe penalties if found guilty of the claims.

The reported allegations make it clear they believe the sign stealing was pivotal in the Astros 2017 World Series win, while many other publications have reported it is still an ongoing activity.

As well as the Astros, New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora have also had allegations made against them, with claims they may have played key roles in devising the campaign when they were still working with Astros manager AJ Hinch – Beltran was a player while Cora was the bench coach at the time.

The alleged sign stealing occurred not only during the 2017 season but also throughout the playoffs, appearing to be a reason the team were so successful at home.

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Although the Astros had declined to comment before the story was published they released the following statement shortly afterwards:

‘Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organisation has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.’

It is claimed the Astros had set a camera up in center field, which was positioned on the opposing catcher’s signs. This was then shown on a TV monitor in the home dugout where they appeared to share the information through a rhythm of bangs on a garbage can. It is also believed that Jomboy Media’s Jimmy O’Brien has acquired examples of the sign stealing as it happened. When leaving the Astros, Fiers had informed his new teams – the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s – of what had happened.

Fiers made the following announcement:

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing. Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s bulls*** on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit (in 2018) trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared’.”

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This is not the first time a sign stealing scandal was investigated. Also in 2017 the Red Sox received an undisclosed fine after they were found to be using Apple Watches to steal signals in a game against the New York Yankees, and the Yankees were also fined due to ‘improper usage of a dugout phone’.

At the time, Commissioner Rob Manfred was reported as saying that ‘future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.’

Although many have called for the Astros to concede their World Series win this is a prospect that will not likely happen and instead they will most likely pick up a penalty fine or lose draft picks.

But the issue of cheating has understandably enraged the league and has clearly harmed not only the team but the sport’s reputation as a whole.
At this week’s general managers’ meeting in Arizona Brian Cashman declined to comment specifically on the allegations, however the Yankees boss did say he felt teams should deal with the ‘consequences’ if they cheat.

“You decide to play by the rules, or you don’t. And if you don’t, there’s consequences. You’re putting yourself at risk whether it’s future employment, current employment, or sanctions or what have you. It’s not a technology question as much as how you want to operate.”

The LA Dodgers, the team the Astros beat in the 2017 World Series, have refused to comment directly on the allegations with Dodgers president Andrew Friedman saying:

‘There was scuttlebutt about it being beyond just the things at home. I don’t know the answer. This is more for Major League Baseball than it is for me. From our standpoint, being one of the teams involved, it sounds like sour grapes for us to comment too much on this.