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  1. In his time as MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred has overseen changes to multiple parts of the game with pace of play being one of his biggest focuses. Now, he is looking to make a change to team’s ability to shift players on the defensive side of the ball. In a recent interview, he had this to say: https://twitter.com/BNightengale/status/1319728868547268608?s=20 Since taking over as commissioner in 2015, Manfred has mentioned limiting shifts to help stimulate offense. As recently as 2018, he thought that limiting shifts could help to boost offensive production and he claimed had “strong” backing from baseball’s competition committee. However, this kind of rule change would also need approval from the player’s union. As Parker recently wrote about, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson might be in favor of shifting being limited and there are likely other players that would take his side. Less shifting means batters are getting more hits and all hitters are going to want to see their offensive numbers improve. However, a USA Today survey showed that 54 out 62 players polled were against making changes to the defensive shift rules. Some feel that shifting is a product of the modern analytical game, but it has been happening for over 60 years. During the 2020 season, the Twins shifted the seventh most of all MLB teams which was 41.3% of the time. This was more than many analytically focused teams like the Rays, Cubs, and Red Sox. In fact, this has been a trend since the Twins brought in Thad Levine and Derek Falvey: Twins Season: MLB Rank, Percentage of Plays 2019: 7th, 35.5% 2018: 3rd, 28.5% 2017: 8th, 14.1% 2016: 15th, 12.6% Baseball has been discussing this topic for years, but a clear plan has yet to be laid out by the commissioner or the competition committee. It likely comes down to the idea that each team would be required to have two infielders on each side of second base. That might seem straightforward, but there would be a lot of other details that need to be ironed out. Do infielders have to be on the dirt? How close could a player be to second base to be considered on the right or left side? Can a fielder move after a pitcher starts their wind-up? All these details would need to be decided as part of the new negotiated rule. If MLB wants to improve pace of play, limiting shifting seems like a strange starting point. Shifts are already helping to limit playing time because fewer hits are happening on the field. Analytics aren’t going away so teams are going to continue to find ways to gain an advantage. Do you think MLB needs to add a rule about defensive shifts? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. This morning Major League Baseball was hit with another blow. The St. Louis Cardinals had two players test positive for COVID-19 with an immediate fallout of postponement of action against the Milwaukee Brewers. We’re playing through a pandemic here however, so what really was the plan? When Rob Manfred and the owners finally came to agreement on economics it appeared, they also had sorted out safety protocols. What it seems they didn’t have ironed out was the logistics surrounding continuation of play. It’s one thing to suggest that a season be decided on winning percentage if not all teams get 60 games in. That can’t happen if some only play 30 or 40 games. These teams are tested every other day, or potentially daily in some instances. Rapid tests are taken at will, and in the case of the Nationals Juan Soto, relatively indicative of what the saliva tests may show. What has to be determined, and seems like it remains up in the air, is what constitutes an outbreak and what doesn’t. Last week the Miami Marlins decided via group text to play through a game despite four players testing positive. They allowed the virus to run rampant within their clubhouse and now have over 60% of their 30-man active roster dealing with positive results. Something like that isn’t going to be overcome by a 3-man taxi squad, and very clearly isn’t as easy as calling on players from the alternate site either. On the other hand, the St. Louis Cardinals had just two players test positive following their departure from Minnesota on Wednesday night. To postpone action against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday seems to negate the planning MLB put in place. The 3-man taxi squad was not designed to account for injury, that’s why there’s an additional 30 players at the alternate site. What the taxi squad was talked about doing was providing an immediate replacement should someone need to go on the COVID-related IL. Each team has up to three players traveling with them to all away games. If they aren’t going to be immediately substituted onto the active roster when a positive tests appears, then there’s little reason for them to be subjected to travel and increase virus contraction at all. Since the beginning Major League Baseball’s goal has been to play an unprecedented season amidst a global pandemic. That’s going up against some significantly substantial odds, but if you’re going to operate like that there has to be a level of “next man up.” Postponing each game in which a test or two come back positive on any given day will certainly fail to give this season a chance. Maybe this was always going to be the probable outcome. We still don’t have this under control across the country, so the feasibility of baseball being doable remained a longshot anyways. However, as unfortunate, and competitively unjust as it is, the show must go on. Either Rob Manfred has to decide that taxi squads have a purpose to fill in rosters (and maybe even expand that group), or even a limited number of positives will bring the sport to its knees. It has been a tenuous start to this whole thing, and there won’t be much more opportunity to get it right. Step back and get it together now, or we’ll continue to go through the motions on something that fizzles out shortly anyways. Side note: Young Bat Co. is giving away a Nelson Cruz bat mug! For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. This weekend was an absolute blast. The Minnesota Twins took the field and despite a hiccup on Saturday, looked the part of a superior team ready to assert themselves. On their off-day Monday, Major League Baseball did its best to go up in flames. I expected a rollercoaster this season, but I’m not sure this was how I envisioned it. Max Kepler started the season with a dinger, and then he went ahead and did it again. Nelson Cruz blasted his way into the record books with a seven-RBI performance on Sunday, and Rocco Baldelli’s club looked like a clear favorite in the AL Central. This week is highlighted by tough matchups with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians, a good measuring stick pair of matchups. As I eagerly anticipated the return of Twins baseball at Target Field today, even without fans, I couldn’t help but feel an immense level of uncertainty. The Miami Marlins now have zero idea how they’ll field a team, and the Washington Nationals want no part of player such an infected organization. Rob Manfred has said it’s not a death blow to the league, but he also hasn’t stepped up with any real plan forward. I guess all of that leaves us in this weird limbo that 2020 continues to serve up. The three days tweeting real, live, Twins action over the weekend were some of the most fun I’ve had in all the years spent doing this. It was a reprieve from the world around us, and while not sticking my head in the sand, it was a necessary getaway. The unfortunate flip side is whether or not it will all be taken away, and a matter of how abruptly. I’m not going to pretend I have any clue how to navigate these waters, or that playing baseball through a global pandemic is even an entirely possible endeavor. What I do know though, is that this Twins team has already flashed reason to believe they’ll be among the best in franchise history, and I’d hate to see that go wasted. My hope is that there’s a way forward and that some ugly situations early present an opportunity for discussion, planning, and growth. Maybe we’ll look back at this first week much like we can hope to in regards to 2020 as a whole, and just shake our heads at the absurdity we experienced. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but you best believe it will be better if Twins baseball remains a part of it. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. For month we watched a public mudslinging fest take place between MLB owners and the Players Union. While the two sides have always been at odds, it’s leadership that the sport’s commissioner is supposed to provide. Rob Manfred may be a very intelligent man, but you wouldn’t know if looking at the results of his actions. Major League Baseball owners are represented by one man, Manfred. He was chosen having come from a labor negotiations background. With the sport likely coming to an ugly labor dispute following the conclusion of the 2021 season, it was Manfred who would be tasked at following in Selig’s footsteps but not making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, we are now here, a place that has given us an unprecedented set of parameters, and a terribly worse set of mistakes. While money was made out to be the reason players were publicly disparaged by those who own the teams, a reality is that any season in 2020 would be played during a worldwide pandemic. Although the rest of the world has done an exemplary job of flattening their curve and combatting the virus, this one is still seeing new records every day. For baseball to be played in that structure, players wanted their fairly agreed upon pay, but more importantly a safe environment in which to work. After the dust settled on economical issues, we were given resumption. Now six days into the new Summer Camp (which mind you, has a sponsor and branding intended to drive those owner’s immediate revenue), we’ve already got a long list of avoidable mistakes. Manfred and MLB have not come through with the necessary PPE in order to properly protect those within the game. Testing is being done, but results aren’t streamlined to meet deadlines, which has now caused multiple organizations to cease operations during a three-week sprint to get ready. The way these five days have gone is reflective of a very ugly reality. It’s a lack of leadership and follow through that paints the picture as a “set it and forget it” type of scenario. We were given a date for resumption, so everything was just going to fall into place. Major League Baseball is set to unveil the 2020 schedule tonight, but we have no reason to believe we’ll logically make it to that point. Whether now or in the future, whether the league gets its act together or not, Manfred needs to begin asking himself for accountability. He’s banged a drum for years that the game must be changed. Pace of play initiatives and poorly thought out marketing strategies have done little to benefit even the intended bottom line. While routinely chomping on his own feet whether by calling the World Series trophy a piece of metal, or publicly suggesting the league never intended to play anything more than the minimal amount of games, he’s become more court jester than duly appointed judge. Other sports have returned thus far, and while we’re still going up against a relatively unknown enemy, the reason to believe in positivity on those fronts is because leadership has ensured a strong plan of action. Rather than denigrating the product and squabbling over who will make more money, the first course of action was how would this be accomplished, and then everything else was allowed to figure itself out with proper runway to ensure follow through. I certainly hope we have a 2020 Major League Baseball season to watch. The Twins are going to be very good, and the nightly drama of a 60-game sprint should be a blast. If we don’t though, it won’t be on the players opting out or the virus causing them to consider that action. It will be on leadership, specifically that of one man, who fell completely short. For more from Off the Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  5. Despite a global health crisis, it isn’t a pandemic that has ultimately thwarted the resumption of Major League Baseball in 2020, no instead it’s those directly involved with the game. Regardless of fault, fans are on a roller coaster ride they never signed up for, and it’s hurt the sport substantially. Today the Major League Baseball Players Association will vote on whether they’ll accept or reject Major League Baseball’s proposal for resumption of play. 38 voting members will give a yay or nay with a majority vote needed to cement a decision one way or another. The expectation is that the proposal will be rejected on the grounds of not wanting to lose an opportunity to grieve the circumstances in court. What we really have is posturing, and it’s what we’ve had during so much of this process, and what baseball labor negotiations have become synonymous with. Owners and players don’t trust each other at all, and it’s why every renewal of the CBA ends up coming with a significant possibility of lockout. It wasn’t until recently that Rob Manfred and Tony Clark got in a room together to has things out. Both sides came out of that meeting with different understandings of what took place, and it only furthered a battle that has played out with public barbs being fired back and forth. Regardless of the structure imposed by the current deal, it would seem to be a non-starter for players in that acceptance represents failure of sorts. I’ve long operated with the belief that there will undoubtedly be baseball in 2020 (barring a shift in circumstances regarding the virus), but that I have no idea what it would look like. The initial suggestion of a full season seemed laughable, but so too does the suggestion of an implemented 48-game playthrough. We’re obviously much closer to the latter than former at this point, and it’s because of all the feet dragging that we’re here. Siding with the players should be an easy choice in this whole battle, but the reality is that both parties have dug in so harshly what we as fans are left with is a bastardized version of what could’ve been. Finances tied directly to games played left us with one side looking to cut down the calendar, and the other trying to recoup as much of their income as possible. It isn’t a matter of what we want to play at this point, but instead what the calendar will allow for. So again today, when there’s a vote on whether the season should start under a certain set of conditions, we’ll likely be left waiting. One side’s disagreement will shoot down the opportunity for an official announcement, and like the many weeks and days of vast importance before it, the day will again be wasted. Tomorrow and going forward Rob Manfred, who has failed miserably in providing any direction or leadership while instead allowing his sport to burn, will need to decide whether or not he’ll implement a season. The players agreed to that possibility back in March, and it’s a scenario that makes all too much sense not to fulfill. Then again, we’ve crossed plenty of these bridges already throughout this process and they all still remain smoldering. I still believe we’ll have baseball in 2020, but the waiting has turned away many future fans forever, and it’s cost the current one’s significant amount of trust for ultimately no necessary reason. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  6. Monday represented a day in which Major League Baseball could’ve announced a season. Fed up with the same offer being sliced different ways, the MLBPA had broken off negotiation talks and said simply, “We’re ready, let us know where to be.” The response to that from the owners and Manfred was to threaten a season taking place at all. The impasse here is that any season without a negotiated agreement would come under an imposed ruling from the Commissioner, which was agreed to in the players March discussions. The caveat however was that the season would be implemented with the intention of playing the most games possible, something the owners have actively campaigned against. Right now, Manfred could implement a calendar of roughly 70 games, but that would be roughly 20 more than those paying the checks want to play. We don’t know for certain whether this is another stall tactic or an effort by Manfred to get the sides back at the negotiating table. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer is calling it like it is, and sees the mandate to withdraw any notion of a grievance as Manfred leveraging a season of baseball to give the owners what they want. https://twitter.com/BauerOutage/status/1272641345941721088 There’s plenty of reasons to believe this is what’s happening. There’s been rumblings that some owners would be fine with no season at all, and the reality for most is that baseball teams are simply another avenue for cash flow within their portfolio. It’s not about being profitable as much as it is how much profit is actually being generated. For the last twenty years revenues have skyrocketed in the sport, and now because the green may not be as large for a calendar year, it’s apparently worth blowing it all up. On Monday night ESPN aired a segment called “The Return of Sports.” Rob Manfred was invited alongside several other league commissioners. It’s only his league that can’t figure out how to get back on the field though. In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s not a health scare that’s keeping baseball on the shelf, but instead one man and the thirty ownership groups he represents. As fans, we’re all the losers here. The Minnesota Twins are set to field one of their best teams since winning the World Series. Mike Trout is in the middle of his prime and could go down as the best to ever play the game. Heck, Albert Pujols is chasing down Babe Ruth at the tail end of his career. Because baseball’s profitability is being impacted, and mind you we don’t know to what extent as books are kept private, those who run it are ready to throw this all away. For the past few years Rob Manfred has set out to increase the popularity of his sport. He’s sought out avenues to draw in new fans and speed up the pace of play. While many of those ideas have been futile at best, he’s found a way to take a large steaming dump on any positive momentum in the matter of a couple weeks. Baseball diehards will return, but the casual fan couldn’t be more apt to throw up their hands at this mess. Over the weekend Long Gone Summer gave us a glimpse into the home run race of 1998. Bud Selig and the owners turned a blind eye to steroids and drug testing because it saved baseball after the 1994 strike. That won’t be an avenue for rebound this time, and nothing suggests Manfred has the capabilities to lead out of this dark time. A mandated 50 game slate in a couple of weeks would prove Bauer right. A cancelled season would drive a nail into the coffin of those running the sport forever. What was once a “both” issue is now squarely on the shoulders of those running the show, and it’s time for MLB to show us that baseball is better than this. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. For a while you could make the argument that the resumption of baseball not getting off the ground was a “both” issue. Players and owners were dug in. Now, as Rob Manfred suggests a season may not happen, that’s no longer the case. Is this really all the better Major League Baseball is? It can’t be, right?Monday represented a day in which Major League Baseball could’ve announced a season. Fed up with the same offer being sliced different ways, the MLBPA had broken off negotiation talks and said simply, “We’re ready, let us know where to be.” The response to that from the owners and Manfred was to threaten a season taking place at all. The impasse here is that any season without a negotiated agreement would come under an imposed ruling from the Commissioner, which was agreed to in the players March discussions. The caveat however was that the season would be implemented with the intention of playing the most games possible, something the owners have actively campaigned against. Right now, Manfred could implement a calendar of roughly 70 games, but that would be roughly 20 more than those paying the checks want to play. We don’t know for certain whether this is another stall tactic or an effort by Manfred to get the sides back at the negotiating table. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer is calling it like it is, and sees the mandate to withdraw any notion of a grievance as Manfred leveraging a season of baseball to give the owners what they want. There’s plenty of reasons to believe this is what’s happening. There’s been rumblings that some owners would be fine with no season at all, and the reality for most is that baseball teams are simply another avenue for cash flow within their portfolio. It’s not about being profitable as much as it is how much profit is actually being generated. For the last twenty years revenues have skyrocketed in the sport, and now because the green may not be as large for a calendar year, it’s apparently worth blowing it all up. On Monday night ESPN aired a segment called “The Return of Sports.” Rob Manfred was invited alongside several other league commissioners. It’s only his league that can’t figure out how to get back on the field though. In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s not a health scare that’s keeping baseball on the shelf, but instead one man and the thirty ownership groups he represents. As fans, we’re all the losers here. The Minnesota Twins are set to field one of their best teams since winning the World Series. Mike Trout is in the middle of his prime and could go down as the best to ever play the game. Heck, Albert Pujols is chasing down Babe Ruth at the tail end of his career. Because baseball’s profitability is being impacted, and mind you we don’t know to what extent as books are kept private, those who run it are ready to throw this all away. For the past few years Rob Manfred has set out to increase the popularity of his sport. He’s sought out avenues to draw in new fans and speed up the pace of play. While many of those ideas have been futile at best, he’s found a way to take a large steaming dump on any positive momentum in the matter of a couple weeks. Baseball diehards will return, but the casual fan couldn’t be more apt to throw up their hands at this mess. Over the weekend Long Gone Summer gave us a glimpse into the home run race of 1998. Bud Selig and the owners turned a blind eye to steroids and drug testing because it saved baseball after the 1994 strike. That won’t be an avenue for rebound this time, and nothing suggests Manfred has the capabilities to lead out of this dark time. A mandated 50 game slate in a couple of weeks would prove Bauer right. A cancelled season would drive a nail into the coffin of those running the sport forever. What was once a “both” issue is now squarely on the shoulders of those running the show, and it’s time for MLB to show us that baseball is better than this. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  8. There’s both good and bad to come in the next couple of days. As has always been my stance, we’re going to see baseball in 2020. The flip side to that is Rob Manfred will impose a bastardized version thanks to the efforts of owners wanting to crush the sport. There has to be some silver lining though right? Co-director of the IBWAA, Daniel Epstein, did a masterful job of breaking down Major League Baseball’s recent letter and detailing why the negotiations have been nothing short of a steaming pile of dog poop. Because of that reality, the owners will get what they’ve wanted since the get go here, less baseball. In playing a shorter regular season the financial commitments are at the least amount, while Postseason opportunity allows for the largest revenue stream. As fans, it’s going to be hard to stomach a 50-something game sprint. The Twins hit 307 home runs to set a Major League record in 2019. That’s a gaudy number to look at and is nothing short of eye popping. Dialing that pace back to 50 games, you’re looking at a tally in the 90’s, or something close to the total between two longball leaders. From a statistical perspective viewing this exercise through any normal lens is going to be a very tough sell. Baseball breathes life year-round because of the historical and numerical importance carried within the game. It’s one thing to argue the validity between a 150 and 160 game season but chopping off triple digits makes this an extreme outlier no matter how you dissect it. We are going to have baseball, but make no mistake, this won’t be Major League Baseball in any sense of the suggestion. Rather than allowing for the nuance and leveling off that occurs over the course of a traditional 162 game marathon, it will be a sprint on a daily basis. Instead of winning a series and settling for a split in the next one, it will be a game of sweeps and a nightly pedal to the metal. If we can separate what baseball is, and what this will be, there could be some level of enhanced excitement to it. The one game Wild Card is often torn down because of the length it takes to achieve that opportunity, and then how quickly it is taken away. There’s no denying the level of excitement or pressure placed on those nine innings however, and now we’ll get a version of that for the entirety of the action. Decisions made by clubs will need to be reflective of opportunity within the next 24 hours as opposed to the next couple of weeks. Teams will need to manage in an attempt to thwart off divisional foes even a game behind right from the word go. In what will likely feel akin to the World Baseball Classic style of play, single game importance is set to be in a place we’ll have never experience during a regular season. It’s truly unfortunate that a global pandemic was used to further the agenda of billionaire owners. We as fans lose the opportunity to cheer for our teams, and experience anything resembling the sport in its intended set of parameters. If we’re going to do this hack job of a year though, we might as well try to start finding rainbows through the storm. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  9. We’re now past the point of Major League Baseball earning favor with fans upon its return. The expectation remains that there will be a 2020 season, but it’s looking more likely that it will be a mandated one as opposed to an agreed upon conclusion. With the latest proposal from ownership across Major League Baseball, the Players Association has been presented another deal that changes wording and says virtually the same thing. Despite an agreement from March regarding full prorated salaries, the billionaire owners are looking for further concessions to stifle the losses they aren’t willing to substantiate. Because of where we are in negotiations, and what is currently being proposed, a July 4th start date is no longer in play. The league has now moved to July 10, and a 76-game season is what they are suggesting. In reality though, the goal of ownership is to draw these discussions out for as long as necessary. That conclusion ends with a league mandated season in the 50-game territory. Prorated pay will then be granted to players, but only for just under one-third of their agreed upon salary. In short, these two sides are so dug in against each other that ownership is willing to do nothing and allow the mediator the opportunity to make the deal. There’s certainly reason to be frustrated as fans here. After all, it’s the consumer of the sport that ultimately loses the most. Players are dealing with precedence, and with this situation playing out just a year prior to CBA expiration it’s understandable wanting to avoid exploitation. Owners are in turn using a global pandemic to stick those CBA negotiation tactics in high gear, and despite having no public record of revenues ever, are now wanting the same public to believe in massive losses. At the end of the day we’re being strung along on a roller coaster ride with the intended result tracking right towards where ownership groups want it. They’ll be able to claim the Union failed to come to an agreement, despite having never changed or offered a more logical proposal. Major League Baseball’s commissioner can be pointed as the scapegoat having to enact a mandated season, but ultimately, it’s his responsibility to drive labor peace. Timing for a work stoppage in terms of sport will never be ideal. For Twins fans right now though, we’re losing out on what should be peak years of a World Series caliber club. The uncertainty of what lies ahead, and the competition being skewed with an ever-changing landscape of play is unfortunate at best. On a national scale we lose out on the midst of Mike Trout’s prime, or the final chases of Albert Pujols’ career. No winners can be crowned in all of this, only losers, and it’s yet to be determined who loses most. Baseball is a sport of passion, and fans are entrenched in the record book and favor of the teams they support. The fallout left by what started as an uncontrollable negative and turned into a self-destructive blaze will be something present for many years to come. Baseball could have been so much different in 2020. It still can take place, but it will never be under the circumstances that were once there for the taking. Sorry MLB, this time you failed, big. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  10. Universal Designated Hitter Most of MLB’s potential plans for a 2020 season include realigned divisions that include American League and National League teams. Likely, this will result in all teams using a designated hitter this year. MLB has been discussing implementation of a universal DH for some time now and it make sense to start moving in that direction. Fans of NL teams are likely not in favor of this change, especially since teams didn’t know this change was coming this season. Organizations might have been more open to the change if they had a full off-season to scour the free agent market for a big bat. Some pitchers also enjoy hitting, but the majority of pitchers are atrocious to watch in the batter’s box. This change was going to happen, and the current season is only going to make it easier for it to become a reality. Expanded Postseason MLB is going to want to find was to recoup some of the revenue from games lost in 2020 and expanding the postseason is one way to accomplish that goal. Back in the 2012 season, MLB expanded its playoffs to include two wild card teams per league. This was the first expansion to MLB’s playoffs since 1994 and now MLB is looking to expand the playoffs again. Every major sport has more playoff teams than the 10 qualifiers in MLB. The NBA and NHL each have 16 teams that qualify for postseason play while the NFL currently has 14 qualifiers. With a proposed shortened season, it makes sense to expand the postseason because there won’t be as many games to separate teams in the divisions. While going to a 16-team format seems out of the question, there could be a possibility to change to the NFL format. This would allow the top four teams to have a first-round bye and increases the incentive for winning the division. Neutral Site World Series The NFL has done this with the Super Bowl, and it becomes a spectacle for the hosting city. Minnesota sports fans saw this recently with Minneapolis hosting the Super Bowl back in 2018. There were concerts in the streets downtown, experiences at the Convention Center, and media row filling up the food court at the Mall of America. Obviously, most of these wouldn’t be able to happen this year, but in future years it could change the face of the Fall Classic. For Twins fans, it would be hard to imagine the 1987 or 1991 World Series not taking place under the Metrodome’s Teflon roof. Minnesota’s home field advantage was real with noise levels reaching the decibel level of some fighter jets. The Twins never lost a World Series game in the Dome and one can imagine the team might not have two titles without their home field advantage. MLB is constantly looking for ways to improve the game and these changes might be coming, but fans are going to be upset with the route MLB is following. Hal McCoy, a writer for the Dayton Daily News, thinks MLB should just leave the game alone. He wrote, “The game already is becoming close to unrecognizable to traditionalists with launch angles, spin rates, exit velocity, technological sign-stealing, challenges, efforts to speed up the game that never work and strikeouts, home runs or walks.” Do you think MLB should leave the game alone? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Baseball must be different this year and there is really no way around it. Divisions will be altered, the schedule will be shortened, and empty ballparks will become the new normal. While these changes are a necessity, MLB could use the current situation to permanently implement other changes and there are going to be more than a handful of fans upset with any alteration to the fabric of the game.Universal Designated Hitter Most of MLB’s potential plans for a 2020 season include realigned divisions that include American League and National League teams. Likely, this will result in all teams using a designated hitter this year. MLB has been discussing implementation of a universal DH for some time now and it make sense to start moving in that direction. Fans of NL teams are likely not in favor of this change, especially since teams didn’t know this change was coming this season. Organizations might have been more open to the change if they had a full off-season to scour the free agent market for a big bat. Some pitchers also enjoy hitting, but the majority of pitchers are atrocious to watch in the batter’s box. This change was going to happen, and the current season is only going to make it easier for it to become a reality. Expanded Postseason MLB is going to want to find was to recoup some of the revenue from games lost in 2020 and expanding the postseason is one way to accomplish that goal. Back in the 2012 season, MLB expanded its playoffs to include two wild card teams per league. This was the first expansion to MLB’s playoffs since 1994 and now MLB is looking to expand the playoffs again. Every major sport has more playoff teams than the 10 qualifiers in MLB. The NBA and NHL each have 16 teams that qualify for postseason play while the NFL currently has 14 qualifiers. With a proposed shortened season, it makes sense to expand the postseason because there won’t be as many games to separate teams in the divisions. While going to a 16-team format seems out of the question, there could be a possibility to change to the NFL format. This would allow the top four teams to have a first-round bye and increases the incentive for winning the division. Neutral Site World Series The NFL has done this with the Super Bowl, and it becomes a spectacle for the hosting city. Minnesota sports fans saw this recently with Minneapolis hosting the Super Bowl back in 2018. There were concerts in the streets downtown, experiences at the Convention Center, and media row filling up the food court at the Mall of America. Obviously, most of these wouldn’t be able to happen this year, but in future years it could change the face of the Fall Classic. For Twins fans, it would be hard to imagine the 1987 or 1991 World Series not taking place under the Metrodome’s Teflon roof. Minnesota’s home field advantage was real with noise levels reaching the decibel level of some fighter jets. The Twins never lost a World Series game in the Dome and one can imagine the team might not have two titles without their home field advantage. MLB is constantly looking for ways to improve the game and these changes might be coming, but fans are going to be upset with the route MLB is following. Hal McCoy, a writer for the Dayton Daily News, thinks MLB should just leave the game alone. He wrote, “The game already is becoming close to unrecognizable to traditionalists with launch angles, spin rates, exit velocity, technological sign-stealing, challenges, efforts to speed up the game that never work and strikeouts, home runs or walks.” Do you think MLB should leave the game alone? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. For the past few years, it has seemed like Major League Baseball’s Commissioner is the only one convinced that the sport is poor in its current state. Maybe you can include certain broadcasters (I’m looking at you John Smoltz), but the decisions suggested and made often have a far-fetched alteration tied to them. Behind the veil defined as pace of play issues, there have been numerous instances in which unnecessary paths have been traversed. Now needing to band together for the greater good, we’re seeing baseball spread its wings. Early on when the shutdown of Major League Baseball was first imposed, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer quickly pulled together a Sandlot-esque game. Intended initially to be more focused around the actual game, it turned into a whiffle ball form of deli. Still, it was broadcast and had participation from multiple players on multiple different teams. Just hours into a new normal, the crave of competition was highlighted. Now multiple weeks into a schedule that isn’t taking place Minnesota Twins Trevor May stepped up and assumed the role of virtual Commissioner. With Sony San Diego Studios and MLB The Show 20, May blazed the trail that has become the MLB Players League. Each club has a representative competing a few nights a week and will play each opponent one time. Games are broadcast on Twitch, MLB Network’s Robert Flores is commentating, and there’s a full league page hosted on MLB.com. https://twitter.com/IamTrevorMay/status/1250063420604506123 If you’ve tuned into any of the streams, we’ve seen everything from players succeeding as their virtual selves, witty banter, and even in-depth breakdowns designed to translate the similarities between the game and real life. What was likely dreamt up as little more than a fun departure from the current monotony has turned into an outlet generating multiple forms of genuine creativity. https://twitter.com/Nationals/status/1250087668345491456 I don’t know when baseball will return, and I’m still not convinced that it’ll happen in 2020. Outlined by John Bonnes earlier this week however, the capacity in which it does will be different. Rob Manfred is currently tasked with doing everything in his power to get creative and make sure the sport lives this season in some sense. While the parameters of play are just one aspect being discussed, it’s also the acceptance and inclusion of creativity born through this time that could breathe new life into the game. We still have regional blackouts in the sport. There are fines handed down for players wearing accessories and equipment that doesn’t directly follow certain color schemes. Major League Baseball imposes copyright on far reaching avenues that would otherwise have the opportunity to grow the fanbase in untapped markets. Whether directly or not, all these things come back to Manfred. It is currently his baby and he has the power to embrace individuality and utilize this creativity. From the guy that , we can only hope some of the lessons learned aren’t immediately forgotten when a return to relative normalcy is reached. An aside: Despite writing this today organically, I stumbled on this video from a few days ago. Trevor Bauer and one of YouTube's largest content creators, Fuzzy, put out a very cool video talking in depth about baseball and content creation. While much of it has to d specifically with the YouTube platform, the overarching theme is still about how far MLB has to go in terms of embracing individuality and engaging fans through creativity. It's most definitely worth a watch. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Major League Baseball’s postseason should be a time where the best moments are created by the players. From game-winning home runs to strong pitching performances, the players and these key moments should be what fans remember. Unfortunately, the calls made by umpires can overshadow baseball’s best moments and this was seen throughout the playoffs. Changes are coming to baseball and "robot umpiring" might not be that far away.Calling balls and strikes is no easy task, especially with more pitchers throwing in the high-90s or adding in the task of tracking the pitch’s movement. Fans sitting at home get a first-hand look at every pitch as it crosses the plate. Most of the time there can be multiple replays and the benefits of watching in slow-motion on a high definition screen. Fans know if a pitch is a ball or strike and they take to social media to berate the man behind the plate. Evidence also points to just how much umpires are missing calls. Following the 2018 season, Boston University did a study and found that an average of 14 ball-strike calls per game. For the entire 2018 season, MLB umpires missed 34,294 calls and those calls resulted in some other findings. Umpires have a two-strike bias and there are strike-zone blind spots. Clearly, baseball needs to find a solution to this problem. During the 2019 Arizona Fall League, MLB experimented with an automated ball-strike system (ABS). The technology was only present at one AFL field and it is similar to one used in the Atlantic League this season. With this system, the home-plate umpire wears an earpiece and is sent the “ball” or “strike” call. It’s obviously more complicated than that and there are some kinks to work out. Players are forced to figure out how the computer calls pitches at the different edges of the zone. There is also less pressure on catchers to frame a pitch because they can’t “steal” strikes from the computer. Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis was in the AFL and got to see the ABS in action. “It kind of changes the whole game,” said Lewis. “It’s still tough, but anyone can catch it back there with electronic. I’d rather have the guys that are working hard and framing and building an element of their game to better themselves.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently told MLB Network that ABS will come to the minors in 2020 "in some ballparks."The league is continuing to find ways to improve the technology. He went on to say, "I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be." ABS likely will go through multiple trials in the minors before it will be big-league ready. It will be interesting to see what leagues will use the technology during the 2020 season. Technology is there and it seems inevitable for “robot umpires” to become part of America’s pastime. Click here to view the article
  14. Calling balls and strikes is no easy task, especially with more pitchers throwing in the high-90s or adding in the task of tracking the pitch’s movement. Fans sitting at home get a first-hand look at every pitch as it crosses the plate. Most of the time there can be multiple replays and the benefits of watching in slow-motion on a high definition screen. Fans know if a pitch is a ball or strike and they take to social media to berate the man behind the plate. Evidence also points to just how much umpires are missing calls. Following the 2018 season, Boston University did a study and found that an average of 14 ball-strike calls per game. For the entire 2018 season, MLB umpires missed 34,294 calls and those calls resulted in some other findings. Umpires have a two-strike bias and there are strike-zone blind spots. Clearly, baseball needs to find a solution to this problem. During the 2019 Arizona Fall League, MLB experimented with an automated ball-strike system (ABS). The technology was only present at one AFL field and it is similar to one used in the Atlantic League this season. With this system, the home-plate umpire wears an earpiece and is sent the “ball” or “strike” call. It’s obviously more complicated than that and there are some kinks to work out. Players are forced to figure out how the computer calls pitches at the different edges of the zone. There is also less pressure on catchers to frame a pitch because they can’t “steal” strikes from the computer. Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis was in the AFL and got to see the ABS in action. “It kind of changes the whole game,” said Lewis. “It’s still tough, but anyone can catch it back there with electronic. I’d rather have the guys that are working hard and framing and building an element of their game to better themselves.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently told MLB Network that ABS will come to the minors in 2020 "in some ballparks." The league is continuing to find ways to improve the technology. He went on to say, "I only would go to an automated strike zone when we were sure that it was absolutely the best it can be." ABS likely will go through multiple trials in the minors before it will be big-league ready. It will be interesting to see what leagues will use the technology during the 2020 season. Technology is there and it seems inevitable for “robot umpires” to become part of America’s pastime.
  15. Expansion Cities Montreal has been clamoring for a new baseball franchise since the Expos left for Washington. A strong outpouring of fans has started to clamor for a team to return. There would need to be more support for the building of a downtown park. If Canadian fans can push for the building of a new park, Montreal would be a likely destination for an expansion club. Portland, Oregon has stadium plans and says it’s prepared if a team becomes available. An ownership group from Japan could be a likely fit since the Seattle Mariners, the closest team to Portland, is owned by Nintendo. While speaking in Seattle this fall, Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about Portland as an expansion city. “I think Portland is a possibility. If we were to go to 32 [teams], we would need a Western time zone team.” New Divisions Minnesota’s new division would include a mixture of familiar and new. The North Division would likely include Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto. MLB’s schedule would be reduced to 156-games so the Twins would face each division foe 12 times (six home and six road games. They would also play every other opponent three times. If Minnesota didn’t end up in the North, the Midwest division could also be a likely landing spot. Baseball America predicts the Midwest would include both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas. Only two teams, the Rockies and the Twins, would be playing out of their time zone. Playoff Changes Baseball only recently expanded the playoffs by adding a Wild Card Game. With expansion, the playoffs would change as well. Each of the four division winners would await the winners of four wild card games. Eight other teams with the best records would make the playoffs to square off in a wild card game. Those winners would move to the Division Series then to the Championship Series and the final two would meet for the World Series. With the expanded playoffs, 12 of the 32 franchises would qualify for the postseason. Minnesota saw more fan interest this year while the club fought for a Wild Card spot. This trend could continue for more franchises with even more teams being in the playoff hunt. Baseball is a game based on tradition and I don’t know if fans are ready for this radical of a shift. What are your thoughts or feelings about the possibility of baseball expanding? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  16. Minnesota's mild slump over the last month has coincided with a Cleveland surge. Terry Francona's team has feasted on the worst of the worst in Major League Baseball, narrowing the gap in the AL Central to a mere four games. That easy stretch shows no signs of abating, as Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that Cleveland’s opponent this weekend will be the attendees of Sunshine Kidz, a day care center in Xenia, Ohio. “We’re always looking for ways to grow the game with a younger audience,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “This effort looks to raise baseball’s profile with the youngest audience.” The children, aged between two months and one year, will be outfitted with tiny gloves and bats and “next generation safety equipment and plenty of blankies” per Manfred. Despite this, some child safety advocates are concerned. “This has to be illegal,” said Karen Lund, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Social Services. “How can this be happening? This can't be happening.” Lund’s concerns, echoed by all the parents and guardians of the children, are much ado about nothing according to “Dirty” Gabe Dalton, co-host of Dirty Gabe and The Blurt’s Morning Meltdown on Cleveland’s 640 AM The Huddle. “The political correctness in this country is out of control,” said Dalton. “First they want nets all over the place, and now they don’t even want the games to be played. It’s a classic slippery slope, big government crackdown on the free market. Welcome to Venezuela, folks.” Manfred says that the utmost care will be taken to make sure the games are both safe and highly competitive. “We're not going to put a 2-month-old on the mound, that's ridiculous, they don't have the arm strength. They've got a kid, Tyler, his first birthday is Sunday, and he once threw a pacifier so hard it broke another kid's skin. He's a rascal! The crowd is going to love him. If his brain was developed enough to create memories, he’d remember his first pitch for the rest of his life. To be clear though, he won’t. We should have probably considered this.” Image license here.
  17. Soft schedule gets softer for the AL Central’s defending champs.Minnesota's mild slump over the last month has coincided with a Cleveland surge. Terry Francona's team has feasted on the worst of the worst in Major League Baseball, narrowing the gap in the AL Central to a mere four games. That easy stretch shows no signs of abating, as Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that Cleveland’s opponent this weekend will be the attendees of Sunshine Kidz, a day care center in Xenia, Ohio. “We’re always looking for ways to grow the game with a younger audience,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “This effort looks to raise baseball’s profile with the youngest audience.” The children, aged between two months and one year, will be outfitted with tiny gloves and bats and “next generation safety equipment and plenty of blankies” per Manfred. Despite this, some child safety advocates are concerned. “This has to be illegal,” said Karen Lund, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Social Services. “How can this be happening? This can't be happening.” Lund’s concerns, echoed by all the parents and guardians of the children, are much ado about nothing according to “Dirty” Gabe Dalton, co-host of Dirty Gabe and The Blurt’s Morning Meltdown on Cleveland’s 640 AM The Huddle. “The political correctness in this country is out of control,” said Dalton. “First they want nets all over the place, and now they don’t even want the games to be played. It’s a classic slippery slope, big government crackdown on the free market. Welcome to Venezuela, folks.” Manfred says that the utmost care will be taken to make sure the games are both safe and highly competitive. “We're not going to put a 2-month-old on the mound, that's ridiculous, they don't have the arm strength. They've got a kid, Tyler, his first birthday is Sunday, and he once threw a pacifier so hard it broke another kid's skin. He's a rascal! The crowd is going to love him. If his brain was developed enough to create memories, he’d remember his first pitch for the rest of his life. To be clear though, he won’t. We should have probably considered this.” Image license here. Click here to view the article
  18. Because Major League Baseball can’t seem to get out of its own way, a big storyline of this season that also became a focus during the All-Star break is the current state of the actual baseball. Justin Verlander went so far as to say “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke.” There’s been some really amazing reporting and scientific studies done on the ball itself that have shown its current composition is different, and the end result is a ball that travels farther than ever before. The ball creates less drag, has thicker laces and is actually more round (I’ll include links to the excellent work others have done on these subjects at the bottom of this article). The end result is home runs and in particular home run-to-fly ball ratio is up. I’m not going to deny either of those things. If we just take a look at run scoring and offense in general, however, things don’t actually look all that out of whack when compared to the past 25 years of baseball. Below is a graph that shows the average number of runs per game over the past 25 years. Things have definitely been on an upward trend the past few seasons, but as you can see, pitchers enjoyed quite a comfortable stretch from about 2007-14. A similar look into slugging percentage shows the same type of trend. Taking a look at things from this perspective, I don’t feel it’s fair to say something like the game is turning into a joke. Verlander himself is managing to pitch to a 2.98 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and has limited opponents to a .168/.221/.386 batting line (.607 OPS). This is despite giving up a league-high 26 home runs. It’s also fair to point out that his home ballpark is an excellent home run hitter’s environment. If you want to say the past 25 years is a poor choice in sample, I guess then you’re going to have a bit of a different perspective. A lot of this conversation comes down to what you think is supposed to be “normal” for Major League Baseball. If you want to really be a traditionalist, the amount of scoring back in the late-1800s was actually much higher than it is right now. Even shifting the focus a little bit closer, the 1920s and 1930s had many seasons in which more runs were scored than they are today. On the other hand, in the 10-year span from 1963-1972 runs were greatly suppressed. Things are constantly changing. Along with the baseball, we’re seeing bigger, faster and stronger players than ever. Advances in technology even over the past five years have dramatically changed the way players train and design their pitches or swings for maximum effectiveness. Many hitters have put an emphasis on getting the ball in the air, pitchers have searched for ways to combat that approach. The cat and mouse game continues. Below is a video in which I provide some more information on this topic and share some more of my opinions. Let me know what you think. Should there be a giant asterisk next to this season's stats? Additional Links Jeff Passan’s original reporting on Justin Verlander’s thoughts. ESPN’s report on Rob Manfred’s response. Astrophysicist Dr. Meredith Wills’ examination of the ball. Jayson Stark’s investigation into possible factors that could have resulted in the homer surge. Rob Arther’s piece on the drag/aerodynamics of the 2019 ball. Bob Nightangale’s reporting on what pitchers are saying about the 2019 ball. Juiced ball and home run discussions from the Twins Daily forums.
  19. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union are always searching for ways to improve the game. Under MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, one of the biggest focuses has been pace of play. How can baseball speed up their games and keep younger fans interested in the action on the field? Some of the latest proposals by MLB and the MLBPA could help to alleviate some of the issues.Three-batter minimum This rule would result in a pitcher being required to pitch to a minimum of three batters upon entering a game. For teams, this could significantly reduce the number of pitching changes made by managers. It could also speed up games for team’s that like to change pitchers in the middle of an inning. During last year’s playoffs, the Brewers used left-handed pitcher Wade Miley for one batter before replacing him with right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff. This type of move wouldn’t be possible under this possible rule change. Universal designated hitter The MLBPA continues to push for a universal DH and they would like to have it in place for the 2019 season. That seems highly unlikely at this point. Offensive has been down across baseball so adding a DH in the National League could add some more offensive to the game. However, none of these teams have been preparing to add a DH to their roster. I believe this rule will happen at some point, but I don’t think it will be in place for the 2019 season. 20-second pitch clock One of the rules proposed by MLB last year was the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock. Manfred could put this rule in to affect for the 2019 campaign. Pitch clocks have been used in the minor leagues, so some players have already started to be accustomed to having them as part of the game. I think the pitch clock is coming and it might be happening for the current season. Mound visits Another rule that MLB can implement this year is reducing the number of mound visits from six to five. In their most recent proposal, MLB would like to reduce mound visits from six to four in 2019. Then in 2020, they would like the number of mound visits to be reduced to three. This seems like a large jump over a two-year span and I think the MLBPA will try to slow this process down. Roster size MLB would also like to expand rosters to 26 players starting in 2020. Along with that, they would like to reduce September rosters from 40 to 28. Expanding rosters from 25 to 26 would create 30 more big-league jobs and allow teams to be strategic as to what type of player they would like to have on the roster. Do they want another arm in the bullpen? Do they want a power bat for the bench? I don’t like the idea of reducing September roster sizes. We already see teams manipulate service time without using September call-ups and this seems like another way for teams to do that. Anti-tanking One of the ideas the player’s union would like addressed is the idea of teams tanking over multiple years to get a higher draft pick. In recent memory, the Astros did this to acquire high picks over multiple years. From this, they have built a very strong roster. The union would like a team’s draft position to be lowered if the club fails to reach a certain number of wins across multiple seasons. What rule changes would you like to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  20. Three-batter minimum This rule would result in a pitcher being required to pitch to a minimum of three batters upon entering a game. For teams, this could significantly reduce the number of pitching changes made by managers. It could also speed up games for team’s that like to change pitchers in the middle of an inning. During last year’s playoffs, the Brewers used left-handed pitcher Wade Miley for one batter before replacing him with right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff. This type of move wouldn’t be possible under this possible rule change. Universal designated hitter The MLBPA continues to push for a universal DH and they would like to have it in place for the 2019 season. That seems highly unlikely at this point. Offensive has been down across baseball so adding a DH in the National League could add some more offensive to the game. However, none of these teams have been preparing to add a DH to their roster. I believe this rule will happen at some point, but I don’t think it will be in place for the 2019 season. 20-second pitch clock One of the rules proposed by MLB last year was the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock. Manfred could put this rule in to affect for the 2019 campaign. Pitch clocks have been used in the minor leagues, so some players have already started to be accustomed to having them as part of the game. I think the pitch clock is coming and it might be happening for the current season. Mound visits Another rule that MLB can implement this year is reducing the number of mound visits from six to five. In their most recent proposal, MLB would like to reduce mound visits from six to four in 2019. Then in 2020, they would like the number of mound visits to be reduced to three. This seems like a large jump over a two-year span and I think the MLBPA will try to slow this process down. Roster size MLB would also like to expand rosters to 26 players starting in 2020. Along with that, they would like to reduce September rosters from 40 to 28. Expanding rosters from 25 to 26 would create 30 more big-league jobs and allow teams to be strategic as to what type of player they would like to have on the roster. Do they want another arm in the bullpen? Do they want a power bat for the bench? I don’t like the idea of reducing September roster sizes. We already see teams manipulate service time without using September call-ups and this seems like another way for teams to do that. Anti-tanking One of the ideas the player’s union would like addressed is the idea of teams tanking over multiple years to get a higher draft pick. In recent memory, the Astros did this to acquire high picks over multiple years. From this, they have built a very strong roster. The union would like a team’s draft position to be lowered if the club fails to reach a certain number of wins across multiple seasons. What rule changes would you like to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. Seth Stohs I have no idea, but it needs to. When diehards like myself have a hard time getting through nine innings anymore, something might be wrong. So many pitching changes. Shifting not only on every batter, but dependent on count. So many swings and misses. I know it is no longer cool to say it, but I miss the old game. The crisp pitching, batters not being so passive. There's a reason I tweet "Have I mentioned how much I love watching Eddie Rosario play baseball? That said, I don't think they can or should eliminate shifts. I definitely don't think Jim Kaat's seven-inning game idea is a good idea. Analytics and over-thinking everything are now part of the game and that isn't going away. So I think we're just going to have to grin and bear it. Strikeout. Walks. Home Runs. More bullpen usage. It's all here to stay, and there are some that like that, and it can be fun at times... But it will be hard to grow this game in the States with this pace of play situation as it is and getting worse. My hope is that this great game will continue to evolve, as it has for 140-150 years to make itself better. No one wants to get rid of tradition, but something needs to happen. Tom Froemming In terms of the on-field product, a lot of what may happen will depend upon what happens to the actual baseball itself, in my opinion. If MLB tries to "deaden" the ball, teams will start to value hitters who put the ball in play more often. Otherwise, things will keep escalating in the direction they're going and soon defense will become a relative afterthought due to the lack of balls put in play. The MLB's current labor agreement with the umpires ends after next season. I think we'll see some of the framework for an automated strike zone in their next agreement. While "robo umps" would be a welcome sight, they'd also tie into the devaluation of defense. Catcher framing goes extinct if that ever happens. What else? Expansion, probably. Universal DH, probably. Players continue to fight pace of play changes, resulting in games becoming even longer. The 2028 NL Manager of the Year award goes to a 23-year-old rookie skipper who is a recent computer science grad from MIT. Bartolo Colon leads the league in innings that season. Cody Christie The year is 2028… Separated by two votes in the final tally, Royce Lewis narrowly takes home the American League MVP Award after beating out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Mike Trout could have won his record setting eighth MVP but he finished a distant third. The Twins have been in three straight ALCS but the 2028 season saw the club finally break-through and win the club’s fourth AL Pennant. The World Series came back to Minnesota. While this utopian idea of the year 2028 sounds great to Twins fans, things need to change with the game. Here are some of the things I foresee happening over the next decade. 20 second pitch clock Universal designated hitter Relievers must face multiple batters Shifts will continued to be allowed Replay will be quicker and used more frequently Expansion will also add two teams to Montreal, Canada and Portland, Oregon. As I wrote about last October, expansion would mean a shift in the divisions and the removal of two leagues. I also think the number of games will be dropped to around 156. This would also allow for the playoffs to expand to 12 teams with four division winners (first round byes) and four wild card games. SD Buhr I'll let the others dwell on MLB, though I do believe we will have 32 teams and a 154 game schedule. But since the question just said "baseball," I'm going to mention the changes I see coming for minor league ball. The current agreement between MLB and MiLB expires in 2020 and therefore no affiliation agreements have been extended beyond that year. I believe there will be some significant changes, most notably a reduction in the number of affiliations, perhaps even elimination of 1-2 entire classes of minor league ball. Baseball currently has 3 levels of short-season ball, though few teams field teams at all 3 levels. Add 4 full-season levels and that makes 7 minor league levels in the US (plus those in Latin America). I'll predict that one level of short-season will be eliminated and it's POSSIBLE that there will no longer be two levels of Class A ball. MLB was threatening minor league teams with contraction to get them to shore up Congressional support during the debate over minor league pay. But now that they won that battle, there's no reason to think MLB wouldn't contract anyway. Bottom line is that I believe there will be fewer minor league teams and that means roster spots for fewer minor league players. I suspect that means a worldwide draft and/or fewer rounds in the US draft. Ted Schwerzler Given the consistent cries for the pace of play to be addressed, baseball is going to need to change one way or another. I don’t believe the issues are dire, but Rob Manfred seems set on changing the game. I do believe we’ll see electronic strike zones sooner rather than later, and that’s a good thing. Specialization has become a large portion of the game and I don’t foresee that going away. I’m not sure what other on-field changes are in store, but a decade from now it will be fun to see Mike Trout having overtaken the last few of Babe Ruth’s numbers. Steve Lein What will happen and what I’d like to see happen are probably two different things. On the latter side, I think there needs to be a shift in the type of game they try to promote, with the recent All-Star Game being a great example of the problem I see. A new record was set for both the number of home runs (10), and strikeouts (25) by both teams (as would have the 23 K’s in nine-innings). We’re seeing a historically low amount of balls-in-play as home runs and strikeouts have been on the rise. To keep future fans into the game, this trend needs to go in the other direction in my opinion. Nobody likes seeing as much “nothing” happening in a game as there is now. Dingers are sweet, but also alter the pacing of a game negatively. As for the former, I think the juiced ball will get fixed. I also think rules relating to shifting are going to be implemented. I do love the strategy of it on defense, while also thinking hitters should just take the damn base when it’s given to them. But for the prior reasons mentioned above, this just isn’t the game promoted or taught anymore. While this won't increase balls-in-play, it would allow more action to occur during a game instead of groundouts into the outfield. If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links: Floundered Second Half Star Sell, Sell, Sell? Fixing the Offense Romero’s Rotation Spot
  22. On Thursday, the Players’ Association rejected a proposal to add a 20-second pitch clock and limits on mound visits. These rule changes were proposed last season which means the commissioner’s office could implement the rules without the approval of the Players’ Union. A decision could come as early as the next owner’s meeting scheduled to start on January 30th. Even with attempts to shorten games, the average length of a nine-inning game increased by nearly four and a half minutes. In 2017, it took 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 second to complete a nine-inning game. Just one year earlier, it was 3 hours and 42 seconds. During last year’s postseason play, the average game took three hours and 29 minutes. The amount of replays also decreased so that wasn’t a factor in adding to the time of games. At November’s quarterly owners’ meeting, Commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear that changes would be coming to the game. He said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can’t get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other.” According to AP reports, MLB can implement the following changes: 30-second clock between batters 20-second clock between pitches Hitters would be required to be in the batter’s box with at least five seconds left on the timer The clock would start when the pitcher has the ball on the mound The clock would reset when a pitcher steps off the rubber for a pickoff throw Warnings would be issued for a first offense and then a ball is called against a pitcher and a strike is given to a batter A team would be allowed one mound visit per pitcher each inning The mound visit could be from a manager, coach or player A second mound visit must result in a pitching change What are your thought on the potential rule changes? Does MLB need to continue to focus on pace of play? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. Pace of play has been one of the major focuses during Rob Manfred’s time as commissioner. Timers have been added for between innings and when new pitchers take the mound. In the minor leagues, a 20-second pitch timer has been used at the Double-A and Triple-A levels since 2015. Major League Baseball wants to see some more changes to baseball’s highest level but the Players’ Association doesn’t agree with these changes.On Thursday, the Players’ Association rejected a proposal to add a 20-second pitch clock and limits on mound visits. These rule changes were proposed last season which means the commissioner’s office could implement the rules without the approval of the Players’ Union. A decision could come as early as the next owner’s meeting scheduled to start on January 30th. Even with attempts to shorten games, the average length of a nine-inning game increased by nearly four and a half minutes. In 2017, it took 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 second to complete a nine-inning game. Just one year earlier, it was 3 hours and 42 seconds. During last year’s postseason play, the average game took three hours and 29 minutes. The amount of replays also decreased so that wasn’t a factor in adding to the time of games. At November’s quarterly owners’ meeting, Commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear that changes would be coming to the game. He said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can’t get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other.” According to AP reports, MLB can implement the following changes: 30-second clock between batters20-second clock between pitchesHitters would be required to be in the batter’s box with at least five seconds left on the timerThe clock would start when the pitcher has the ball on the moundThe clock would reset when a pitcher steps off the rubber for a pickoff throwWarnings would be issued for a first offense and then a ball is called against a pitcher and a strike is given to a batterA team would be allowed one mound visit per pitcher each inningThe mound visit could be from a manager, coach or playerA second mound visit must result in a pitching changeWhat are your thought on the potential rule changes? Does MLB need to continue to focus on pace of play? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  24. Putting a runner on base in extra innings, limiting the amount of trips to the mound, and different clocks have been implemented by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred over the last few seasons in an effort to speed up the game of baseball. While we here at Twins And Losses didn’t mind the pace of play before Manfred’s time-saving chang… What’s that? The average length of a MLB game hasn't really gotten shorter? Huh, that’s odd. Actually it isn’t in my humble (and slightly ill-informed) opinion. According to SI dot com, “It took a record 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds to complete a baseball game, up from 3 hours and 42 seconds last year.” In fact, the average game length back in 2014, the season before Manfred replaced known douchecanoe Bug Selig; was around 3 hours, 8 minutes. While Manfred may have shaved a whopping 2 minutes, 49 seconds off of a baseball, the fact remains that Manfred’s crusade to shorten baseball games in the most tedious way possible isn’t really working. Today I’m going to propose a better way to tackle pace of play and the dwindling numbers of MLB fans tuning in to watch games: market the sport better. On tomorrow’s Twins And Losses Supershow, we talked about how marketing the game better could drive more fans to stadiums and purchasing cable subscriptions to watch their favorite baseball teams play. One way to improve the fan base is by marketing to each specific region, as opposed to marketing 8 to 10 superstars to an entire country. If the goal is to attract younger fans, then market Brian Dozier in the midwest, Mike Trout on the west coast, and Aaron Judge in one half of New York. Instead of filming 3 commercials feauting the top ballplayers in America; spend the time, and money to market to every single team in the United States and Canada. Younger fans aren’t going to convince their parents to stay up late on a school nice to watch Mike Trout hit a dinger, especially if the game is starting at 8 or 9PM out west. Get younger fans excited about Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton, players they can watch 162 games a season. Work out deals to put these marketable young stars in high visibility locations. Don’t just air MLB commercials on FSN; air them on Cartoon Network, Disney XD, and other channels young fans are going to watch. Parents will be resistant at first, but it’s amazing how they slowly erode over a week of their kids screaming to go to Target Field on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. If there’s no local flavor, or a reason to watch a Twins game, what do you think is going to happen to the attendance and TV ratings? If you want to try to shorten the average game, that’s fine. But you should also be working on other ways to increase the fan base. If 162 3 hour long games is too many, then shorten the numbers of games played. If the only changes you’re willing to make are implementing a thousand new rules to shave off 3 seconds at a time, you’ll kill the spirit of baseball that the die-hard fans grew to love. How can you not love an at-bat with this much suspense and intrigue?! Baseball isn’t for everyone. There are some people who love the fast pace and big hits of football and hockey, and will never find the chess match of baseball to be exciting or worth watching for an entire season. Tobacco companies nailed marketing of their cancer causing products, and maybe MLB should follow suit; hook ’em young so they grow up wanting more, and stop worrying that a baseball game takes 3 hours to play. Originally posted on TwinsAndLosses.com
  25. Last week, Miguel Sano spent four hours being interviewed by investigators from Major League Baseball. This comes two months after Sano was accused of unwanted advances by photographer Betsy Bissen. The incident in question allegedly occurred after an autograph signing back in 2015. Sano has denied the allegations from the beginning and there’s still little known about when MLB will make any final decision about a possible punishment for Sano. Many believe Sano’s interview was the final step in the investigation process. This may indicate that the commissioner’s office is ready to make a decision in the coming days. The two-year-old policy covers domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Previous punishments under this policy have included suspension, fines and/or sensitivity training. However, police reports have usually been included in those previous cases. For example, Yankees closer Arolids Chapman was suspended 30 games in 2016 after he allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired eight shots in the garage of his home. He was never prosecuted because there were conflicting accounts of the events and not enough evidence. Other questions have also followed Sano this off-season. He had a roughly 18-inch titanium rod placed in his left-leg back in the middle of November. This meant there was part of the off-season where he was immobilized and this could have led him to packing on a few more pounds than the team wanted to see from their budding slugger. Sano’s play on the field so far this spring has continued the trend of uncertainty. He’s started two games at third base but he has yet to record a hit. He is 0-for-8 with 3 Ks including a pair of three-pitch strikeouts on Sunday afternoon. On the defensive side of the ball, there have been limited chances for Sano. In his first play at third base, he was slow to field a chopper and then missed a throw to Joe Mauer. The play was ruled an infield hit. Later in that first game, he had to charge a ball and make a barehanded play. In Sunday’s game, his only defensive opportunity came on a pop-out to third. It's hard to read a lot into two spring training starts for Sano. He’s working his way back from injury and there is still a month for him to get his bat back into shape for the 2018 season. With that being said, uncertainty continues to follow Sano. The organization and Sano have no idea when Commissioner Rob Manfred will make the final ruling in his assault case. Until that time, Sano is going to continue to try to figure things out on the field. Are you worried about Sano’s start so far this spring? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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