Wake Up MLB!-UPDATED

The good news, no Phillies players tested positive today. The bad news, one of their coaches and a home clubhouse attendant did. All activity at Citizen’s Bank Park has been cancelled for the day.

Now you could argue that this is a fluke and these two members of the Phillies caught this virus on their own, but isn’t it much more likely that they got it from being exposed to the Marlins, or people who were exposed by the Marlins? And unless you can prove the former beyond a shadow of a doubt, you have to quarantine the Phillies for much longer than until Saturday. The idea of the Blue Jays playing the Phillies this weekend is a really, really bad one.

Look around, the country is on fire with this virus and the only thing that has been proven successful in pausing its spread is quarantine. You isolate the people exposed, see if they get sick over a two week period, and you can stop transmission. Otherwise, things get out of control in a hurry.

Consider this scenario. Some members of the Phillies are infected. They play the Blue Jays this weekend and the Yankees right after that. The Jays play Atlanta and Boston while the Yankees play Tampa and Baltimore. Congratulations, you’ve seeded Corona in every team in the AL and NL East except the Mets and Nationals. (The Marlins don’t need “the help”) And, all of those potential infections can infect the general populations of their communities. If MLB won’t wake up to reality, perhaps a governor of a state in the path of this will?

UPDATE I don’t know where Rob Manfred is, but the Blue Jays manager just announced his team won’t be playing the Phillies this weekend. So good decision, but baseball seems woefully unready for this moment with no leadership. How can they not have expected something like this to happen. Furthermore, there is word that another Marlin player has tested positive, so that’s 17 players and two other organizational members. They have to shut that team down until August 9th. At this point, I wonder when the players revolt and protest what is happening? After all, they face the biggest risks here.

Half Measures

MLB is playing a dangerous game with a deadly virus. They correctly stopped the Marlins and Phillies from playing this week, but it’s not enough. Another Marlin has tested positive today, bringing the total to 16 players and 2 other members of the organization. Keep in mind, this new positive person has been quarantining since Sunday. It can take up to 14 days, with a median timeframe of 4 to 5 days for someone exposed to the virus to test positive for it. That means that although it’s good none of the Phillies have tested positive yet, they aren’t anywhere close to being out of the woods and letting them resume play Saturday, as is now the plan, is a risky move for both them and their opponents, the Blue Jays.

As for the Marlins, MLB would be crazy to put them on a field anytime soon. When 18 members of the organization have the virus, you can pretty much guarantee everyone in that clubhouse has been exposed. They need to be shutdown for two full weeks, until August 9th. If they’re not, MLB is risking the spread of this to their next scheduled opponents, ironically the Phillies, and then the Mets.

The NBA just announced that they had zero positives in the bubble. That is increasingly looking like the only feasible way for sports to be played until we get a vaccine.

End it Now-UPDATED

Twelve Marlin players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID.

The Marlins just played three games in Philadelphia. The Yankees are scheduled to play in Philadelphia tonight and use the same clubhouse the Marlins just vacated. The Phillies just shared a field with the Marlins. The Phillies and Yankees are supposed to play in New York Wednesday. This is how an outbreak is seeded.

It was wonderful to watch baseball this weekend, but health comes first. MLB tried to pull off a season outside of a bubble, but with the country on fire with COVID it has proven to be impossible. Let’s hope all of the Marlin players and coaches recover and baseball does the responsible thing and stops trying to play.

UPDATE Bob Klapisch tweets that the belief is the Marlins were infected when they went to Atlanta last week If true, that means Atlanta, which played the Mets this weekend should be tested and the Mets should be too. As unbelievable as it sounds, Atlanta actually left two of their catchers home this weekend because they had COVID-like symptoms, but tested negative. MLB is only postponing games involving Florida and Philly, affecting the Yankees and Orioles, but letting the Red Sox play the Mets tonight and the Rays play Atlanta seems reckless at best.

Here Goes Something-UPDATED

It’s an Opening Day like none we have ever seen as we are less than ten hours from the start of the baseball season and we don’t know two pretty big things. First, how many playoff teams will there be? (MLB is apparently trying a last-ditch push to expand the playoffs this year.) Second, where will the Blue Jays play their home games? Toronto said no, Pennsylvania said no, they don’t want to be in Buffalo, so now their hope is Baltimore. Will Maryland approve, or will they be forced to be the home team in away parks for an entire season? Stay tuned, this has to be resolved in time for their July 29th home game, so we should know our answer soon.

And to make things more complicated we had our third-highest number of new Corona cases ever yesterday in the U.S., and another MLBer, Hunter Dozier, has tested positive. He played for the Royals Monday Night, so there is a potential that he exposed his teammates and the opposition Astros. This whole ball of yarn could unravel pretty quickly.

That’s why tonight I’m going to kick back, open a beer, and watch two of the best pitchers in the game go at it for a few innings. I’m going to put all of the madness to the side, and soak in a baseball game. It’s a welcome distraction for a few hours.

UPDATE- Silly me thinking we could be pleasantly distracted in this environment. Juan Soto, the Nats superstar, has tested positive. He played in an exhibition game Tuesday night against the O’s and he has obviously been around his teammates. MLB seems to want to ignore this news, but I hope they at least speak to health experts and tell us what they said about playing this game tonight.

The Crystal Ball

Normally before the start of the season, I take a stab at predicting the baseball season. Last year I had the Dodgers winning the World Series over Houston in six games, after the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS. Sadly, I did not have Washington making the playoffs. Some years I do well, and others not as well, but it is a fun exercise as it makes me look at each team and think about the future.

This year when I try to do that, I am totally stumped. Start with the fact that there are only 60 games in the regular season. 162/60=2.7 which means that each game is magnified almost three-fold. Lose one game, that’s almost the equivalent of losing a three-game series. Win four games in a row and you have the normal equivalent of a 10-game winning streak. The importance of each game will be so, so much more this year, and manager’s will have to adapt and try to win each and every game. (Yes, I know that is everyone’s goal, but let’s be honest, there are times when the manager looks at a depleted bullpen or uneven score and decides to save some bullets for the next fight in a 162 game season.) Add in the Coronavirus and you really have a muddle. Players are still testing positive and since they won’t be in a bubble, they will probably continue to do so. The health of each player and the length of their absences will have enormous effects on the outcome of this season. A player missing 14 games to quarantine is missing almost a quarter of the season.

So this got me thinking that with so much up to chance, why not predict the season that way? So, I did the modern equivalent of picking the teams out of a hat- the Excel random number generator. I listed each team alphabetically by division, flipped a coin to decide if 1 or 0 was the better result (1 won) and generated some random numbers between 0 and 1. The highest number generated in each division was the winner, and so on down from there. For the wild cards, I picked the highest numbers generated from the non-winners. For the playoffs. I regenerated random numbers for each round and compared the teams. Here’s how it looked. (Note I rounded the results to two digits and only list them when significant to break ties or determine seeding)

AL East
1- Tampa (.69 generated)
2- New York (.65 generated)
3- Boston
4- Baltimore
5- Toronto

Analysis- The biggest surprise if this came true to me would be Baltimore finishing ahead of Toronto. The Rays are so creative that I could see them winning the division by thinking way outside the box in a year where teams will have to.

AL Central
1- Chicago (.96 generated)
2- Detroit (.75 generated)
3- Cleveland
4- Kansas City
5- Minnesota

Analysis- I think the White Sox will be sneaky good this year, but this seems was too optimistic. And Minnesota falling to last seems just as unlikely. Also Detroit in the wild card!?

AL West
1- Oakland (.94 generated)
2- Texas (.84 generated)
3- Seattle
4- Houston
5- Anaheim

Analysis- This also seems very unlikely, but in the pandemic era who knows?

AL Playoff seeds
1- Chicago
2- Oakland
3- Tampa
4- Texas
5- Detroit
(Yankees have lower number than either of them)

AL Wild Card
Texas over Detroit

ALDS
Texas over Chicago
Oakland over Tampa

ALCS
Oakland over Texas

NL East
1-Atlanta (.7 generated)
2- Mets (.58 generated)
3- Washington
4- Philadelphia
5- Florida

Analysis- This seems like a pretty reasonable prediction if it had been made in February.

NL Central
1- St Louis (.99 generated)
2- Pittsburgh (.88 generated)
3- Cincinnati (.87 generated)
4- Milwaukee
5- Chicago

Analysis- I don’t think this comes close to happening, but I will say that the NL Central probably has the easiest schedule of the divisions, so I could see them landing both wild cards as they did here.

NL West
1- LA (.69 generated)
2- San Francisco
3- Colorado
4- Arizona
5- San Diego

Analysis- I don’t think the Giants would normally be predicted for second place, but so be it. They didn’t have a very high number, so they didn’t come close to the playoffs.

NL Playoff Seeds
1- St Louis
2- Atlanta
3- LA
4- Pittsburgh
5- Cincinnati
(Mets have lower number than either wild card)

NL Wild Card
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

NLDS
St. Louis over Pittsburgh
LA over Atlanta

NLCS
St. Louis over LA

World Series
St. Louis over Oakland

So there you have it, the 2020 MLB forecast brought to you by Microsoft Excel.

An International Problem

Canada just decided that having the Blue Jays travel between COVID hotspots is a really bad idea and therefore, they won’t let the Blue Jays play in Toronto this season. Governor Cuomo are you listening?

I can bet he isn’t because one of the potential landing spots for the Blue Jays is reportedly Buffalo, which means New York could have three places in the state with teams traveling in and out of COVID hot spots. That’s just dumb.

The other idea for the Jays is to play in Dunedin, Florida. That’s actually worse considering the rate of infection down there. If that came to pass, the Yankees would have two additional trips into Florida on their schedule. This is crazy. Someone needs to stop this.

Shut it Down

The combination of sports and COVID is not a good one. MLS is launching the restart of their season tonight with one team withdrawing from their tournament because of positive COVID tests. Ohio State and UNC became the latest schools to pause their preseasons due to the virus. The Ivy League announced that all sports are postponed until at least January 1st. Stanford announced that it will permanently stop playing 11 varsity sports after this season (if there is a season).

In America just over 62,000 people tested positive for the virus today. That’s a record, and more than double the worst numbers from April, when New York was on fire. (there were 692 positives in NYS today). Those of us who live in NYC learned today that the grim reality is the best case scenario for our kids this fall is going to school 50% of the time, and for most of us it will be 33% because it is impossible to put a lot of kids in a building if they need to be six-feet apart.

In short, the virus is kicking our ass right now and if we want to get back to any semblance of normalcy, we have to bring it under control. In New York, that was accomplished by shutting almost everything down for two months, and then gradually reopening only parts of the state at first. New York City didn’t even start to reopen until the beginning of June and we are still a full stage behind the rest of the state and not allowing indoor dining.

New York has made amazing progress, but it was at a horrific price. We can’t let this virus come back and it’s time that someone calls stop on MLB’s resumption plans. New York State has a quarantine for travelers from lots of states, but most importantly baseball-wise, from Florida and Georgia. That means that players from Atlanta, Tampa, and Miami should not be allowed into the state and the Yankees and Mets, should not be allowed back into the state if they travel to those places, before quarantining for 14 days.

And New York is not alone. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have similar orders, so teams visiting the Red Sox and Phillies from those states and the Red Sox and Phillies, when they return from those states, should be quarantined. I haven’t even mentioned Canada, which has another set of rules.

MLB simply can’t conduct a season with teams traveling between COVID hot zones and non-hot zones in this environment. It kills me to say this, but the current plan for the season has to be abandoned. Find a place for a bubble and maybe you get a shortened season in, but trying to pull off a season right now is criminally negligent.

We Have a Schedule

Considering the surge in Coronavirus cases across the country, I’m not sure baseball is going to actually pull this off, but MLB announced the schedule tonight and the Yankees have a very interesting one.

We knew ahead of time that they would play Baltimore, Boston, Tampa, and Toronto ten times each, but we now know that those series are split 7/3 and 6/4 in terms of home and away games. They are playing Boston 7 times in the Bronx and Tampa six times while heading to Toronto for seven games and Baltimore for six. We also knew they would play the Mets six times, and the rest of the NL East 14 games. They have 3 games against Washington on the road, 4 games each against Philly and Atlanta split between home and away, and three games against Florida.

The schedule appears heavily front-loaded with 34 of their first 37 games against teams that finished .500 or better. That obviously flips around as they finish with 20 of their final 23 against teams who were below .500.

There are nine scheduled day games and it looks like at least four Sunday Night ESPN games, though that could just be because there are no fans in the stands so Sunday day games aren’t really necessary.

So sixteen days and we may see Scherzer vs Cole on the bump in D.C. I really hope that happens.

Some Details

Here are some of the details I have learned from various sites about what the 60-game season will look like. I am just going to list them.

Universal DH for the season.

60-players in each team’s “bubble”. Active roster at 30 for the first two weeks of the season, 28 for next two, and then 26 for the rest.

Trade deadline of August 31st.

Minor league extra innings rule will be used, so a runner will be on second at the start of the 10th inning. A team error will be assessed to place the runner on base, so if he scores, it is an unearned run.

Teams will play their division rivals ten times each and play 20 interleague games against the same division. (AL East vs NL East) Six of those games against their “rival” (Yankees v Mets) then four games against two other teams and three games against the two remaining teams.

Roster freeze ends Friday at noon.

Positional players are allowed to pitch, the rule that was going into effect is not going to be used.

We Have a Season

I’m going to grind my teeth and try really hard to be happy about the fact that we have a MLB season of 60-games that will try to start on July 24th. I’m going to try to ignore the idiot owners and players who ignored the reality of 2020 and negotiated in bad faith thereby destroying any chance for baseball to set an example for the rest of sports. Crap, I blew it!

Sorry, I can’t celebrate a 60-game season that may or may not happen at all. Baseball should have figured this out a long time ago and the fact that it didn’t will haunt both sides for years.

Ok, I’m done. We have a season. Of course the virus may upend all of this.
Now I’m done.

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