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Clock is ticking on organized baseball
Majors and minors at crossroads
Good morning, all! I hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving in the USA and that all is well, wherever you are!
This is a significant week for major and minor league baseball. The clock is ticking on MLB clubs, which have until Dec. 2 to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players a contract for next season. Failure to do so will automatically make those players free agents. The sense is, because of baseball’s financial dubious state, many players will not be tendered contracts. That will set up a merry-go-around of big name players on the open market, suppressing big contracts.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has repeatedly stated the game lost billions of dollars in 2020 because of the truncated season, due to Covid-19. Big league clubs have given the pink slips to hundreds of employees. The Phillies are the latest, laying off 80 employees during Thanksgiving week. Bill Madden writes in the Sunday New York Daily News that even with a vaccine, it is unlikely spring training for the 2021 campaign will not begin until late March or April. More than likely, a season of 130 games will begin in May.
Because there was no revenue sharing in 2020, clubs like the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins are in a worse financial plight. Here you have the small market Rays, winners of the American League pennant, unable to re-sign free agent pitcher Charlie Morton. Word is they have stars Blake Snell and Kevin Kiermaier up for trades. Expect few big free agent signings. Much to the chagrin of the players association, the owners have tightened their purse strings.
As for the minor leagues, now fully under control of MLB, the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reports the commissioner’s office is expected to announce its massive overhaul of the minor league structure in the next 7 to 10 days. That is when 40 minor league franchises are expected to be contracted and shifts in the affiliation of the existing clubs will become official. And even then, there is doubt as to when a minor league season will begin.
Bottom line is, organized professional baseball in the USA is at a crossroads, with this week a significant one in determining how the journey will proceed.
Lions have lost their roar
No surprise hear that the NFL’s Detroit Lions fired coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn on Saturday. In 2 1/2 seasons, Patricia coached the Lions to a 13-29-1 record. He took over for Jim Caldwell, who was fired, after leading the Lions to successive 9-7 campaigns. At least Patricia was smart enough to land a five-year deal, so he can expect a big settlement, or sit out and get paid for the remaining 2 1/2 years.
Team owner Sheila Ford Hamp told the media about Patricia’s dismissal:
“It clearly wasn’t working. We can’t hide our past, that’s for sure.”
So another Bill Belichick protege - Patricia was once a defensive coordinator with the Patriots - has fallen by the wayside. Do not be shocked if he ends up back in New England next season.
Meanwhile, what is an interesting note to me is how unsuccessful the Lions have been in more than six decades. In 1957, they won the NFL title. Since then, they have won just one post season game, on Jan. 5, 1992.
I would not be surprised if Detroit makes a big splash with its next hire. Expect the name of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh to surface. But even in Michigan, that may not be a big enough name to satisfy the frustrated fan base.
Covid causing football to fumble
It seems the wheels are coming off the cart for college and pro football, because of Covid-19. As I wrote in a prior newsletter, I have been unenthusiastic about following the college football season, because of its chaotic schedule, due to postponed and canceled games. For example, Ohio State’s game vs. Illinois was canceled on Saturday and now there is word the Ohio State vs. Michigan game is in jeopardy. The Buckeyes may not play enough games to qualify for the post season. The Virginia at Florida St. game was also postponed. The list, it seems, is endless.
Meanwhile, the NFL continues to walk a tightrope. The Ravens-Steelers game, slated for Thanksgiving night, has been postponed twice. Now they will try to give it a go on Tuesday. Meanwhile, because of stringent restrictions put in place in certain California counties, the 49ers cannot play another home game until at least Dec. 21. That will impact two games. There is a chance the Niners could play home games at either the Oakland Coliseum or the San Francisco Giants baseball park.
The entire landscape is becoming a mess, placing the television-driven NFL and CFB in a quandary. I do not know about the college game, but you can expect the NFL to strongly consider going to a bubble, especially for the post season, before too long.
When Mel, Mickey and Whitey went to the track
While doing my usual surfing the other day, I stumbled upon an interesting television ad, involving Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and the “Voice of the Yankees,” Mel Allen. I was able to turn it into a video for one of my You Tube channels. Enjoy, and as always thank you for subscribing to the newsletter. -SPORTSCASTER DAN