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Hoping Soto doesn’t go to the Dodgers
Checkbook baseball bad for the game
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a great start
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is a week from today. Expect the rumor mill to be churning out one trade after another. It does not matter if the trade is consumated, all that matters is that the story generates clicks. Certainly, every opinion maker in the business has or will weigh in on Juan Soto. Which club will acquire the Nationals’ star? How much will the Nationals demand for Soto? Every angle will or has already been examined.
So here goes my take. It would not surprise me if Soto is not dealt by the trade deadline. The Nationals are not under the gun to deal him. He does not become a free agent until 2025. Naturally, the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the clubs mentioned as suitors. Sorry, Dodgers’ fans, but I hope you don’t get him.
It amazes me the pass the billionaire-Dodgers get from the mainstream sports media. Even now, as the Yankees battle the Dodgers and Houston for the best record in baseball, critics attack the Yanks for their deep pockets. In reality, GM Brian Cashman has done a solid job of building the club this season, with shrewd trades and low-budget free agent signings. (Matt Carpenter was available to every club, only the Yankees answered his email.)
I still will be surprised if the Yanks make it to the World Series. Their pitching is showing cracks, and they have yet to prove they can beat Houston. Plus, the one free agent they did open the checkbook for, pitcher Gerrit Cole, is still a question mark, when it comes to performing in the big game.
That said, the moneybags Dodgers have become the kings of checkbook baseball, building a model that includes outbidding every opponent for the big name free agent with their billions. Good for them. Clubs are supposed to use the system to their advantage to win. Not every club does. But bad for baseball.
There will always be winners and losers in baseball. I get it. But the sport is turning into college football, with five or six super clubs and everyone else serving as fodder. From where I sit, the Dodgers have become MLB’s Alabama, a club easy to root against, easier now that their last link to tradition, broadcaster Vin Scully, retired six years ago.
Until baseball adopts a financial blueprint similar to the NFL (unlikely with a recalcitrant players’ association), TV ratings and attendance will continue to fall. In this day and age, with so many other entertainment options, baseball faces many challenges. Here is one way to eliminate one of those challenges. Create an even playing field.
The NFL’s system provides every club the chance to win the Super Bowl. No such illusion exists in baseball, not with the checkbook baseball played by the Dodgers, not with a system that witnesses some teams tanking to tear down and rebuild, again and again. In reality the Washington Nationals nor any franchise should be placed in a postion to trade a Soto years before that player becomes a free agent. What’s the point of free agency, if this is going to become the new norm? A Juan Soto trade to the Dodgers will only continue to destroy the hope that any club can reach for the brass ring.
NFL camps open
Speaking of the NFL, training camps are now open. In less than a month the preseason games will be underway. College football training begins next week. With betting now legalized on games in half the country, expect more intense coverage of football - if that is possible - than ever before. Point spreads will be just the tip of the iceberg. There will be talk of “over” and “under,” points per quarter and so much more. Then, of course, there is fantasy football, so big, it enveloped MLB, including one of its most marketable stars, Mike Trout. (Baseball must have loved that.). Let the season begin.
That is it for today. Have a terrific week and stay safe and healthy.