MLB has 2 strikes!

In last week’s blog, I condescendingly pointed to Miami Marlins as the most likely team to catch the covid. They were young, undisciplined, restless. Just days later, it was announced that the StL Cardinals, thought of as one of the premier MLB franchises, had players suffering from the same illness. Since that announcement, the Cardinals, MLB and national commentators have weighed in on the situation. What started small then spread to 13 individuals with the Cardinals’ traveling party, who have tested positive dating back to last week, including seven players, has now reached “high concern” level for the Cardinals AND for the entire MLB. It’s 2 strikes now for the MLB….1 to go. What do we know…not know… presume
…How did it begin? Initially, rumors began swirling that some had been seen in a casino when Jon Heyman suggested in a tweet that, “At least a couple Cardinals did go to a Casino”. Further, one high-ranking MLB official said “There are some bad decisions being made.” The Cardinals have stated that they believe that they know of the origination of Cardinal covid . Team officials have traced at least 1 member of the team having contact with an asymptomatic associate—outside the team’s testing & perimeter. That is the breach, the ignoring of the mandate, that introduced the virus to the Cards. Protecting that player, the Cards have yet to release his name. The management has determined that it then spread through interactions—some that could have been avoided (clusters of players on and around the field—again avoidable) and some that could not have been avoided –probably with the medical staff. At the same time, Carlos Martinez was placed on the 10-day injured list for an undisclosed reason Tuesday—not on the covid list. The lack of information provided by the Cardinals on that transaction leads to speculation and has to make one wonder.
….It can’t be handled in any other way but…..the extremely short 60 game schedule will bring unusual results. You don’t have to look far…last year, after 60 games, the ultimate World Series Champion, Washington Nationals, were holding a weak 27-33 record! On that same day, the Cards lost and dropped to a 30-29 record. StL would finish off the season by winning at a 61-42 clip. The Nats were 66-36 after June 4th, the 60 game mark! It’s all we have but….get ready for unusual results both as a team and as individuals.
….The schedule added to these issues—far too many plane rides. It should have been adjusted further. I believe that the MLB designed a very poor schedule. They had these MLB teams flying around too much playing 3 games here and 2 games there…ugh!!! Since there were two 5-game series against each division team & 4 game series against AL Central teams. The schedule could have been designed in this way—play a 5 home games against one team consecutively @ one location; then play 2 games against an AL team followed by another 5 game series against another NL team & another 2 AL games. That’d be 14 straight home games over 2 weeks. Give them a day off….then go on the road for 2 weeks following the same type schedule—5 games v @NL team, followed by 2 games @ AL team. Follow the next week in the same way. Follow this same process over again and finish the season with a 4 game AL series…bingo—60 games. That would be 11 road trips over the 60 games. There should NEVER have been a day off after the 1st game of the season…that was always there in case a game was rained out and to accommodate all the 1st game festivities—which didn’t exist this year!
….Surprisingly to me, Dylan Carlson hasn’t been called up …yet! He’s already passed the time frame to ensure not losing this year as a full season (brings Free agency 1 year sooner as all MLB teams do), and the Cards offense has struggled to get some baserunners. Only problem….he’d need to be added to the 40 man roster… requiring someone else to be removed. The Cards have stated that it’s too early…that they want to give a longer opportunity to the current players. Code—this is IT for O’Neill & Bader—if they don’t hit now(albeit a very short season), their next opportunity may be with a different team. It’s not that the Cards don’t need help right now….now I do realize the Cards are short on games compared to the rest of the league but….we’re last in the MLB in runs (30th),20th in batting average (.217), tied for 28th in HR (6), 24th in OPS-.663. The Cards opted to bring up OF Max Shrock & 3 pitchers—Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, Roel Ramirez. Does that mean that these OF players really DON’T fit into the long range plans (like Carlson?) Of course, from the players point of view….they all think of the Lou Gehrig situation. 1b Wally Pipp showed up at Yankee Stadium that day with a severe headache, and asked the team’s trainer for two aspirin. Miller Huggins, the Yankees’ manager, noticed this, and said “Wally, take the day off. We’ll try that kid Gehrig at first today and get you back in there tomorrow.” Of course, Gehrig played every game for the next 14 seasons! Each of these players are dreaming that they’ll be the next Lou Gehrig—coming out of nowhere to play every day! Btw…Pipp wasn’t a bad player—He had led the AL in Home Runs in 1916 & 1917 & was the NYY starting 1b for 8 straight years.
….frequently found In the “what happened” circle, Carlos Martinez was placed on the10-day DL. The official announcement is about as clear as mud “The Cardinals gave no reasoning for placing Martinez on the injured list, but the transaction comes as the team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak among several players and staff members. The Club stated that “It’s unclear how much time the right-hander will miss, and a replacement for his spot in the rotation hasn’t been named.” Does he have Covid and doesn’t want others to know because its source is questionable? Yes, it’s a guess but somehow, it seems to me, that Carlos’ travels down a different path than most players and that the Cards overlook it due to his “potential”….potential & 4 bucks buys you a coffee these days!! Individuality is a good thing….but….it must be within the framework of the parameters outlined by the management.
…I am still surprised that the MLB agreed to full pay for any player who opts out of the season. I’m not opposed to players, of their own choosing, deciding to sit it out. But…..does that merit full pay? MLB minimum (slightly over $550,000) would have seemed more appropriate to me. Now the minimum would have been prorated due to the sliced up season but…..my point remains. Do those players also receive a “full year” of service time towards future contracts, free agency, arbitration, etc?
….It’s becoming clear that pre-season, exhibition games are essential for the MLB batters to establish the timing and refine their swing. Without it, batters are really struggling against MLB pitching. From a general perspective, in Thursday nights 11 MLB games, there were a total of 13 MLB batters with a .300+ average across the entire league! There were 3 MLB games void of ANY .300 hitters! As I write this, 23 MLB teams have a team average of .243 or lower…in some cases—really lower. Cleveland ‘s batters carry a pathetic .181 team average and yet or 7-8 in the won-lost column! Cards hold at .217 team average-21st in the league. Some of the big-name stars –Christian Yelich (3 of 34), Gary Sanchez (3 of 31), Eugenio Suárez (4 of 44), Anthony Rendon (4 of 30), Bryce Harper (4 of 20) have been anemic. The lack of “stardom” by these key players sets the MLB image further into the haze.
….As the season unfolds and games are cancelled, “new” rules are suddenly appearing. Now, we’ll have 7 inning games for doubleheaders! The NL swallowed the DH pill earlier. Come on…what’s next 10 run rule games? (Probably, a good idea), batting the entire roster? (not a good idea), letting all players reenter? As these rules suddenly appear on the horizon, the traditional baseball fans (who are the foundation of the season ticket holders) shake their heads and many turn off their TV.
….The MLB has limped its way through two teams with major covid break-outs. Schedules were adjusted with more shortened doubleheaders. If……and I surely hope not….there is a 3rd major break out, it could end the season….and probably should end it! The deeper the season goes, the more difficult it would be to reschedule games. Commissioner Rob Manfred his stated that with ONE more breakout, he’ll strongly consider ending the season. The team owners, who are banking on a prolonged post-season to assist them in recouping some of their losses, would probably work hard to avoid such a predicament. But as I see it with 2 strikes currently, the 3rd strike will end the season!

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