Logistics say that Major League Baseball games being played in Arizona will be difficult to save the 2020 season. In other words this is complicated towards gearing for a June 1 start.
Lets be realistic here. The Coronavirus Pandemic has not reached that Apex. That is a word we have all become accustomed to hearing and opinions vary as to what account is reliable. It’s a day-by-day basis and of course safety is the issue.
You hear the word safe. You hear about keeping distance and staying home as we play baseball and sports to provide that diversion. Major League Baseball , though, with a plan to have all 30 teams play ball in Arizona in reality is a delusion.
As of Tuesday, and after a reported proposal was made Monday, their goal was to find a way to salvage the 2020 season. MLB reportedly is looking at all options with contingency plans, if anything, the idea has fans and the baseball world talking.
They, like me and you, want the season to start. Again, with a national health crisis, and never at this magnitude, we leave decisions to the medical authorities. Until they say otherwise normal business will not proceed.
So with players and personnel, all home and in isolation, where do we go from here? Reportedly, the MLBPA and MLB are in talks. Don’t expect any agreement and anytime soon.
And a prevailing attitude here is this will go nowhere. It is just a buzz to keep fans interested. Major League Baseball, the owners, yes they are losing significant revenue. In the end, they will recover with their losses as owners have that security to do so.
If you ask this observer, after speaking to players and others involved in the game, the logistics are easy to understand and safety is the first issue as to why this proposal is absurd.
Players are getting paid for two months as per agreement. The contracts for the most part are secured, but they are getting hit in the pocket and not getting the full.
Locally, and with New York as the epicenter of this Coronavirus, don’t expect baseball in 2020. Regardless if the numbers go down, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium will remain dark. It is simple to understand that we are at risk even when this crisis abates and with no vaccine in site.
The Mets have scattered to their homes around the country. Their spring training and minor league complexes in Port St. Lucie Florida is closed. Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Dom Smith, Marcus Stroman, they are across the state in Tampa and finding a way to stay in baseball shape.
J.D. Davis, after a light workout Monday, packed the car with his wife and began their cross-country drive home to Elk Grove California. He, like other players, contacted by NYExtra.com had doubts about the MLB concept.
“It would be interesting, don’t know if it’s doable.” Davis said as he continued his journey across Texas.
There are concerns about placing 30 teams in hotels, limited number of venues that are minor league complexes, and summer weather extremes of heat in the desert.
“It’s such a big group to quarantine,” he said.
There is that possible risk of a player or two testing positive for the virtus. In that unlikely event it would be players, families, a member of the coaching staff, umpires, stadium staff, and all under quarantine. If so, the season is halted and it’s a question of why the risk?
“If the rosters expand, too many numbers, too many people,” Davis said. “All I can do is keep my body in shape and be ready if we get the call as if this was the offseason.”
And players would need another two to three weeks of spring training. You have to get them in place with many in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Though, Davis would not commit to saying yes or no to the MLB plan. He had yet to read any of the proposed formats. Some of the formats to save the season would include no fans, players keeping distance, no use of the dugouts, a robot umpire at home plate, and numerous double-headers of seven inning games.
None of this seems logical, And how would owners divide any revenue? Gate receipts and concessions are a major revenue source. Television networks would fulfil their billion dollar agreements with MLB, but the assumption is this would be at a lower scale.
“ Not logical, not making sense,” said White Sox pitcher Gio Gonzaelz when reached by phone at his home in the Miami area. “The world is out as a whole right now. It’s scary. It’s not fun. They don’t know how far this is going to go. We all love baseball and want to be realistic.”
He added there is also that concern about a quarantine. “What am I going to do with my kids, my family? I’m not a robot, I’m not a lab rat.”
Yes, the logistics of this are a concern. And with minor league systems also dark the need for a roster spot may not be possible in the event a player or two goes down with an injury.
In the end, MLB is looking to provide that diversion. It worked after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But this is so much different. We are fighting a war that has no remedy at the moment.
As one high ranking scout, also sitting on the sidelines said, “logistically it’s trying to go to the moon in a volkswagon Too many obstacles.”
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
The New York Extra’s on going photo review
A new series of photographs by the staff of the New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
By Lenn Robbins
Let’s be honest. This 2020 MLB season, if it’s ever played, is going to come with an asterisk.
If a player gets off to a horrid start, (asterisk!) it’s because spring training was halted, throwing off his rhythm. If a player hits 25 home runs in, say, an 80-game season (asterisk!), fans will wonder if he could have kept up that pace.
Every accomplishment or failure will come with an asterisk: Yankees win the World Series – * season shortened.
It’s a can’t win season. Same with the NBA and NHL and all the other seasons that have been interrupted by this plague known as COVID-19. The season of the asterisk is the tertiary damage of the novel coronavirus.
Years from now, any athlete that misses this season won’t be differentiated from athletes that play.
So, although Mets pitcher Noah Syndegaard will not pitch in 2020 because he needs Tommy John to repair an acutely torn UCL with acute compression of the ulnar nerve, it’s the perfect season to miss. The season with the asterisk.
Don’t be mistaken. This is a sad turn for the Mets pitcher who has teased us with his Viking god-like physical stature and power pitching. It’s a sad turn for the Mets who still might be considered a playoff team but that road just got more daunting.
It’s not as if Syndegaard had a choice. The injury needs surgery and it needs it now. If all goes well, Syndegaard could be back on the mound by June of 2021.
Boston’s Chris Sale also will have Tommy John surgery. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Sale decided to have his surgery now to avoid missing significant time in 2021.
It doesn’t matter. Five, 10 years from now, the empty stat line for Syndegaard and Sale won’t warrant a second glance. This is the season of the asterisk.
By Lenn Robbins
The beauty and curse of being a sports fan is that you never forget some days.
June 15, 1977. I was working a summer job at a pool club Canarsie when the news began to spread. Unbelievable news in the sense that it simply could not be true. It was unbelievable. Then it became friggin’ unbelievable! And then all sight and sound became a jumbled cacophony. Everything happened in slow awful motion.
The Mets were trading Tom Seaver.
It couldn’t be true. But that night, there was the most Amazin of Mets crying on television. We cried, too. It was dubbed the Midnight Massacre and surely thousands of Mets fans felt a piece of themselves get killed that night.
Patriots fans woke up Tuesday morning to their own version of The Seaver Nightmare: There will be no Brady sequel.
Brady announced he was ending his 20-year marriage in New England, with Boston, with Patriots Nation. He’s packing up his six Super Bowl rings, four Super Bowl MVP trophies, three NFL MVP awards and deflated balls and heading to where?
Tampa? Some nice beaches for sure, but it pales in comparison to the culture of Beantown and the close-knit community that is New England.
San Diego? Can’t beat the weather but the Chargers have flipped that city the birdie by moving to Inglewood and sharing a stadium with the Rams. Nothing like eight road games and eight neutral site games to end your career.
Chicago? Wonderful second city with an odd attempt at pizza, but if Brady wants to win another ring, the Bears don’t have better weapons than the Patriots. And Chicago’s line was rated 29th in the league in 2019 meaning Brady might want to pack his Cape Cod Beach Chair.
You know what? Who cares?
It doesn’t matter where Tom lands. It’s where Tom is leaving.
Mets fans didn’t care what team their Tom had been traded to. Cincinnati? Where? What? They were despondent that No. 41 would be wearing a different jersey, dazzling another fan base, making hitters look the fool.
Of course, there are differences between their Tom leaving and our Tom leaving although both moves were tied to free agency, the bane of every sports fan everywhere. Never again can fans embrace a player as theirs. Just ask Cavaliers’ fans.
Seaver was already in a brutal, year-long conflict with owner M. Donald Grant over the direction of the team. He was livid the Mets did nothing to improve the roster after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached the previous summer. He wanted to remain a Met but felt he couldn’t under Grant’s penny pinching and elitist attitude.
Brady, knowing a new CBA would likely be reached this year, insisted the Patriots deal he signed last season prevented New England from slapping the franchise tag on him. When the new CBA was approved on Sunday, Brady was a free agent. He wanted to find another home.
In about as brutally timed announcement as imaginable, Brady took to Twitter on a St. Patrick’s Day like never before. Bars and pubs are closed because of Covid-19. There’s not even a place to drown one’s sorrows with other mourners!
You know what? Who cares?
Patriots fans know one brutal truth today – their franchise is done. The Greatest of All Time is leaving. New England is just another team on the NFL map.
Sure, there will be storylines to follow: Is Jarrett Stidham the answer? Is Phillip Rivers a good stopgap for a season or two? Is the replacement in the upcoming draft and will the Pats will make a stunning deal to move up?
You know what? Who cares?
This is not to say we feel bad for New England. Hell no. It just means Mets fans know the feeling that Pats fan are experiencing today. It will never be forgotten. They’ll never forget where they were today. It’s a wound that never heals.
By Lenn Robbins
There are two lines a professional athlete in this city simply can’t cross. One is to not hustle. The other is to be selfish.
Yeonis Cespedes has crossed both.
Of course, he also flashed enough of his prodigious power and potent arm to be embraced by the World Championship-starved fans that flock to Citi Field each season with endless hope, a pilgrimage as mystical as any in religion.
That Cespedes no longer exists. The man once known as La Potencia (The Power) should now be known as El Jabali (The Bore). It isn’t funny.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Cespedes is one of those rare Major Leaguers to have been touched by the forefinger of the Lord of Baseball. His swing is majestic; his throws explosive. His glove, golden in 2015, tarnished from the World Series on.
By the time Cespedes arrived at Spring Training a few weeks ago, his reputation was as tarnished as a subway station stair rail. His declaration that he would not speak to the media should have been met with ‘who cares shrugs.”
Cespedes has said enough without speaking over the last four seasons to make one thing clear. Cespedes had crossed the lines from hero to bore, uh, goat. He was no longer a player worthy of respect because he had stopped respecting the game.
This awkward dance started at the end of the 2016 season, after Cespedes had performed well enough in 132 games (31 homers; 892 OPS) to opt out of his three-year $75 million contract. He signed a four-year, $110-million deal that included the treasured no trade clause.
The Mets were stuck with him.
They were willing to overlook the 108 strikeouts, the red flag that he was on his fourth team in six seasons, and the embarrassing revelation that his hamstring injury was severe enough to end his season, but not his golf game.
His 2017 season lasted 81 games. The following season saw him on the field for 38 games. He needed surgery on both heels. It would be too cynical to suggest Cespedes didn’t play because he had nothing to play for, too cynical.
Cespedes regained his desire to speak publicly on Sunday. When asked, on a scale of 1-to-10 what he would rate his motivation for this season he responded, “12!” Of course, it is. In a reworked deal, Cespedes will earn $6 million if he doesn’t play, a minimum of $11 million if he’s not on the injured list on Opening Day.
A healthy, incentivized Cespedes could put up big numbers. He could offer protection in the lineup for Pete Alonzo. He could be taking crucial at bats or celebrating a World Series victory when he turns 35 on October 18th.
Then the Mets can happily let Cespedes cross any line he wants. As long as he’s walking away.
By Lenn Robbins
One of the first narratives regarding Mets pitcher Noah Syndegaard was not a positive one. He was spotted by David Wright eating in the clubhouse during an intrasquad scrimmage in March of 2015.
This was little more than a rookie error. Syndegaard should have been watching the action, learning one more piece of information or soaking up via osmosis what being a Major League pitcher is all about.
Wright chewed out Syndegaard. Bobby Parnell tossed Syndegaard’s plate in the trash.
If this is the biggest mistake Syndegaard ever makes as a Met that would be OK. But OK, as the AT&T ad states, is not OK when it comes to Syndegaard.
From that rookie season when he struck out 166 batters in 150 innings, Syndegaard standing at 6-6 and weighing around 240 pounds with that lightning blond flow, began drawing hushed comparisons to other previous Texas flamethrowers such as Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan or pre-injury Kerry Woods.
There was that game last May when Syndegaard four-hit the Reds and drove in the game’s only run with a solo homer. And the one in late-September when he two-hit the Giants, striking out 11 and walking one.
Every time Syndegaard dominated, he raised the bar for himself and for the Mets. Every time he didn’t reach those heights, as was the case at times last season (10-8, 4.28), there were whispers of doubt: Maybe he’ll never be destined for Cooperstown.
Syndegaard did nothing to deflate expectations for this season. There were the shirtless photos of him early in camp, showing off that Greek freak physique. There was today’s first spring training outing when he worked the standard two innings, striking out two, allowed one hit and left with Mets fan feeling good until Edwin Diaz showed off his dreadful 2019 form.
With Jacob deGrom and Syndegaard, the Mets can have the best 1-2 front end of any rotation in baseball. That has been the hope for the last five seasons. But this could be the year that deGrom and Syndegaard combine to lead the Mets to an October parade.
Syndegaard, 27, spent the offseason in Los Angeles sharpening his mental approach to pitching. The hope is that a better plan, combined with his 97.6-mph four-seamer, his 91.1-mph changeup and an unhittable curve when the first two are working, will establish him as one of the best in the game.
“It was a top-notch pitching program the performance people put together for me,’’ Syndergaard told The Post. “I followed it to a T. Previous offseasons I would go into spring training lackadaisical on the mound, figuring, ‘Oh, I will just figure it out there.’
“Now I’ve had 10 mound sessions under my belt already. Our analytics guys came out to LA a few times to really figure things out. I have a much better grasp now on everything.’’
Wouldn’t that be something to witness? Syndegaard standing on the mound at Citi Field, knowing his stuff can blow away any man in the box, knowing exactly what’s the best pitch to throw, and executing it? We’d cater the clubhouse spread.
Lakeland Fla. – J.D. Davis became the first casualty during the Mets spring training camp Tuesday afternoon. He left the game against the Tigers in the fifth inning after diving for a ball at third base and jammed his left shoulder.
An MRI is scheduled for Wednesday and the Mets will await the results. Davis, slated to be the starting left fielder on Opening Day, could see some playing time at third base for manager Luis Rojas.
When questioned, Davis said to NewYorkExtra.com “I think it’s minor. Just achy and tight. Right now. We will see tomorrow.”
The Mets are hoping for the best. Last season, Davis, the surprising acquisition from the Houston Astros, hit .307 with 22 home runs in 453 at bats. He had some lapses in left field and this offseason worked on correcting the flaws.
In the lineup, the Mets are that much better. Davis can be a cog at cleanup or batting third. In the event of a setback pending the MRI, there are some positives.
Yoenis Cespedes is working his way back to the lineup and that adds some depth for a Mets team that is in discussion as a possible winner of the NL East.
To win the division, or take a NL wild card, they will need the consistency of Davis in the lineup and on the field.
“It was a little bit of pain,” Davis said. “But it’s fine now.
The MRI is precautionary and to assure there is no structural damage. The Mets have not had a share of any injuries since the start of camp. Most of the emphasis has been Yoenis Cespedes.
Since his off-season run-in with a boar, their high profiled player with a restructured contract, has been on the field. Stretching, running, throwing in the batter’s box, and all looks good for Cespedes.
That leads to optimism that the name of Yoenis Cespedes will be in the lineup or off the bench in the first few weeks of the season. Davis also said he is not concerned this will be a setback. Again, the MRI will confirm more.
“Three out of ten,” he said about the concern level.
And the Mets are hoping for a ten. In the unlikely event that Davis is out for some time, the Mets, with depth, could go with Dominic Smith in left. He is slated to get playing time off the bench and possibly backup Pete Alonzo at first.
THE LAST TIME FOR TEBOW? Tim Tebow hit his first home run in Mets camp Tuesday. It was his first ball hit out of the yard in his fourth spring training invite with the Mets.
And this could be his last hurrah. Time is of the essence. Tebow, 32- years of age, is not getting any younger when it comes to baseball standards to achieve his goal of being on the Major League level.
He signed as a Minor League free agent in September of 2016, and hit .163 last season for Triple A-Syracuse before sustaining a laceration to a finger that curtailed his time. The year before, at Double-A Binghamton it was a broken wrist that ended his season.
“I had a chance to see a few and just tried to be tight and on time,” Tebow said about the home run in the Mets 8-6 spring loss to the Tigers.
The Mets have tried the Tim Tebow experiment and at times it has been a marketing ploy. After seeing some success at Double-A Binghamton, and a 2018 Eastern League All-Star spot, there was speculation in 2018, when rosters expanded, that Tebow would make his Major League debut at Citi Field.
But that never transpired which leads to 2020 as being his last opportunity. With the Mets set in the outfield, and the game getting younger, that leaves Tebow with limited time to make the jump to the big leagues.
“I feel like I’m seeing the ball pretty good,” Tebow said.
He has been reaching base in three Grapefruit League games, walks, and of course the home ball that got the crowd popping in Lakeland. You see, Tim Tebow has always been that role model and fans do gravitate to him.
In the end, a roster spot, even with an extra man at 26, may not be enough. Tebow, though, is content and will continue to fulfill his goal as that two-star professional athlete.
“The good athlete that he is, and as coachable as he is, he’s going to keep improving in every area,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas.
And for Tom Tebow, that’s as good as it gets.
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