Good morning, all! I hope you had a terrific weekend!
Welcome to February. Pitchers and catchers in two weeks. Well, not so fast. Worried that the lingering pandemic will impact baseball’s spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona, MLB offered a new plan to the players association on Friday that reduces the regular season schedule to 154 games from 162. That was the season’s length before expansion in 1961 (AL) and 1962 (NL). Here are some other highlights from MLB’s proposal:
Spring training would start March 22
The regular season would begin on April 28
The DH would be added to the NL
7-inning doubleheaders would return
Starting extra innings with a runner at second base would also return
14 teams would make the post season, 7 in each league
The team in each league with the best winning percentage would get a first-round bye
The six remaining teams in each league would play a two-of-three round, followed by a divisional series and league championship series, with the top seeds joining the field
The extra round would extend the World Series well into November
There are other financial incentives for the players, including pay for a 162-game season, a sticking point with the association.
I am not sure the players will jump at this, and reports are emerging they will reject the plan today. The association has not supported expanded playoffs, fearing it will water down the pursuit of free agents. And the fine print includes unilateral powers for the commissioner, in the event the pandemic worsens and more government restrictions are implemented.
Although this proposal is being floated as a one-year solution, I believe MLB wants to make much of this plan permanent, from a universal DH to a reduced regular season to expanded playoffs. They also want the 7-inning doubleheaders, a runner at second base to start extra innings and even a pitch clock.
I love most of the plan, including an extension of it beyond 2021, except for the World Series stretching into mid-November. If our health situation ever improves, there is no reason the regular season cannot start around April 15, include a 154-game season, 7-inning doubleheaders, expanded playoffs and wrap up by the fourth week of October.
But make no mistake, as much as MLB is painting this picture as a one-year solution, they want to make most of this proposal permanent. I hope they succeed.
Sportscasting’s changing landscape
In case you missed it, the PGA Tour meandered on to suburban San Diego over the weekend, with Patrick Reed capturing the Farmers Insurance Open at the famed Torrey Pines South Course. CBS televised the tournament with lead announcer Jim Nance, calling the action. Except Nance was not at Torrey Pines. He described the scene from his home, located at another famous golf venue: Pebble Beach. Welcome to the new normal.
As I have been predicting, the pandemic is bringing about changes that may outlast the virus for economical reasons. With today’s technology remote is the word. Nance can call a tournament on nationwide TV from his living room. That means CBS need not pay for his travel, hotel, incidentals, etc. More and more, it appears MLB broadcasters will not be traveling with their clubs in 2021 for away broadcasts. Broadcast teams are being reduced. Another savings.
When CBS televises the Super Bowl on Sunday, Nance and his broadcast partner Tony Romo will not see each other until two hours before game time, when they arrive at the booth. Normally, they would be together throughout the week, culling information for the telecast. With Covid-19 restrictions, there will be minimal pregame interaction by the media. Most communication will occur via Zoom.
I believe many of these restrictions will remain after the pandemic, including Zoom interviews of players and coaches. It’s safe to say the media, entering locker rooms, are just about history and broadcasters traveling with teams or going to venues for national events may not be far behind.
Why are the Rockies trading Nolan Arenado?
By the end of today, the trade of Colorado Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals may be a done deal. Below, I explain why the Rockies are trading their bedrock and it is more than differences between Arenado and GM Jeff Bridich.
Northeast getting slammed with snow
Where I live, we are preparing for a good ol’ fashioned nor’easter. For those interested in this neck of the woods, click on the show art below, where meteorologist Brad Field has the storm details and I ask him questions in a special storm episode of his weather podcast. And, by the way, if you think this snowstorm is just the beginning, give the podcast a listen.
That is it for today. As always, thank you for your support, be safe and have a great week.