I didn’t post yesterday mainly because I was having a lazy Saturday, but I also kept hoping there’d be some breaking news about the 2020 season. The last week or two has given this diehard fan a serious case of whiplash (from all the head-shaking and face-palming, get it?), and I barely know what to say.
Now it’s Sunday, and the only news is about the SDNY prosecutor getting ousted and a bunch of teens on TikTok trolling Trump’s Tulsa rally. Yikes. Anyway, it’s time for a new Out of Left Field, so here goes.
Tampa Bay Rays baseball!
Wait, this is Tulsa. pic.twitter.com/oV2BZhPdOu
— Matt Dowell (@dowellml) June 21, 2020
On June 20 last year, Tulsa also drew a little over 6,000. That time it was to see the Double-A Drillers beat Amarillo on Gavin Lux’s walk-off singlehttps://t.co/FAmiaxexpM
— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) June 21, 2020
[Don’t get on me for posting about “politics.” These are both BASEBALL tweets!]
To rewind about 11 days, on June 10, the first day of the abbreviated draft, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he was “absolutely” sure with 100% certainty that there would be a 2020 season. Then this week happened.
Monday: Five days after guaranteeing a season, Manfred walked it back, saying that he was now “not sure” it would happen. This was following a weekend of acrimonious media leaks, a scorched-earth letter from the players union, and rumors that the union planned to file a $1 billion grievance if Manfred and the owners imposed the 48-52 game schedule they’d been proposing. The entire baseball world went into despair. There was this tweet from Tyler Heineman, who, if you’ve forgotten, was one of the journeyman catchers trying to make the Giants’ opening day roster back in March.
This sucks. I’m sorry fans. I love this game more than almost anything in the world. But I am disgusted with the business of baseball. And disappointed that fans don’t get to watch their favorite teams play. It breaks my heart b/c I know how happy I was to watch a game as a child
— Tyler Heineman (@theineman13) June 16, 2020
Wednesday: There is hope again! Manfred and union leader Tony Clark had a face-to-face meeting! They worked out a deal!
Thursday: Union: No, we didn’t have “a deal.” Owners made “a proposal.” Here is our counteroffer. (Original offer: 60 games, full pro-rated salaries, some other stuff. Counteroffer: 70 games.)
Friday: Owners: Wait, we thought we had a deal! No fair! And no counteroffer!
And as of this morning, that’s where we sit. The players are going to vote on the 60-game proposal put forward by the owners. The leadership team of the union reportedly voted almost unanimously against it, so let’s not get our hopes up here.
The players now have decided to take a vote Sunday, instead of waiting on COVID-19 test results, on whether to accept or decline #MLB’s offer to play 60 games at full prorated pay.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 21, 2020
Oh. One other thing. While all this was going on, players and staff from multiple teams tested positive for COVID-19, and all 30 MLB clubs have closed their spring training facilities, where many players have been working out in recent weeks, to do deep cleaning. The union suspects that the league is leaking all of this to postpone starting the season so that there will only be time to play the minimal number of games the owners want and forestall a possible grievance. However, Florida and Arizona are both among the hottest of COVID-19 hotspots right now, so it’s actually not surprising that people living and working there might test positive.
Right now, between the virus spiking and the labor issues, it’s hard to imagine any of this working out. On the other hand, camps could be opening within the next 7-10 days.
Like I said: whiplash.
Draft and roster musings
The big news was all of the back-and-forth between the league and the union this week (hey–I thought they cancelled Wimbledon this year!), but there was still some post-draft analysis and maneuvering. The Giants reportedly came to terms with their prize draftee, local high school left-handed pitcher Kyle Harrison, for a $2.5 million bonus. This is more than three times Harrison’s slot amount as a a third-round pick. Knowing this number puts some of the oddities of the Giants draft into perspective. In one of their podcasts this week, Andrew Baggarly and Grant Brisbee discussed this, saying that the Giants drafted guys like Jimmy Glowenke and Ryan Murphy knowing they could be signed for far below their slot value to save money for guys like first-rounder Patrick Bailey and Harrison. The Giants also have signed three undrafted free agents so far, and maybe we’ll look more closely at them next week, depending on what else happens.
In this week’s Chalk Talk at Home, a weekly show on NBCS-BA hosted by the four Giants broadcasters, they interviewed Michael Holmes (amateur scouting director) and Farhan Zaidi, bouncing back and forth between the draft and what the roster might look like if/when the season gets going. We noticed that Holmes and Zaidi talked only about four of the seven draft picks (Bailey, second-rounder Casey Schmitt, comp pick Nick Swiney, and Harrison), adding further fuel to the idea that the other ones (Glowenke, Murphy, and fourth-round pitcher RJ Dabowitz) might have been throwaway picks. (“We can get them for cheap, we like some things about them, but if they don’t work out, no big deal.”) Regarding Schmitt, Zaidi made it clear that they are not seriously considering him as a two-way player, referring to his turns as San Diego State’s closer as “moonlighting” like Buster Posey did at Florida State back in the day. They drafted him as a third baseman and are excited about his “plus-plus arm strength,” his excellent defense at the position, and his bat.
As for the roster, there was much discussion of the likelihood that the universal DH is here to stay, especially if the owners’ offer to the players was actually accepted–one of the provisions was the DH for all games for both 2020 and 2021, and once that happens, it’s hard to imagine MLB backtracking after the CBA expires in late 2021. So, as Baggs and Brisbee discussed in the second of their two podcasts this week, that pinch-hit at-bat that Madison Bumgarner took against Clayton Kershaw in Game 162 last September might be the last time in the long, glorious history of the franchise a Giants pitcher will ever hit. They spent pretty much the whole podcast riffing on quirky or exciting pitcher ABs they could remember, like the ones from Santiago Casilla. This was his first one ever, and–bwahahahaha.
Here’s a nice bit of trivia I learned from that podcast. In the last 50 years, only once has a pitcher hit a walk-off homer. It was against the Giants, and the reliever who served it up was Greg Minton, in an extra-inning road game. The pitcher who hit the homer later became a #ForeverGiant. Anyone know who it is?
In the Chalk Talk broadcast, Zaidi was asked about the universal DH and whether the Giants would go get someone (=Yasiel Puig). Zaidi pointedly said “I think we’ll stay in-house for that,” and he mentioned not just the obvious choices (Pence and Sandoval) but also Darin Ruf, who made a pretty good impression the last weekend in Scottsdale before camps shut down, going 6 for 6 with two homers and three doubles in two weekend games at Scottsdale Stadium. We were in attendance at both of those games, and I had Ruf on My26ManGuy™ roster back when we were still doing that.
This week in Sim Giants
It was Rookie Night as the Giants beat the Marlins 5-3 in Miami. Logan Webb pitched well for the win, Rule 5 Guy Dany Jimenez got the save, and Joey Bart had the big blow, a three-run homer in a four-run first inning that the Giants made hold up for the entire game. Bart’s homer was his first in the big leagues, and we were amused to see Sim Bart’s sim teammates give him “the silent treatment” as he returned to the dugout. Also amusing was the announced attendance in Miami–over 36,000–and even though the Marlins are having a surprisingly good year and are second in the NL East, I’m not buying that. Kruke and Kuip kept referring to the “great crowd” and “full house” with tongues clearly in cheeks. We were surprised to see Kapler going with Jimenez in a save situation, and so were K & K. But it all worked out, as it so often does in these Orange Friday Sim Games!
Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there. In a different reality, we were supposed to be in London today, getting ready for a British Isles cruise. Instead, we’re taking off in a bit to meet Lefty Jr. and her boyfriend for lunch at a restaurant in Petaluma (outside dining) to celebrate. My dad passed in April 2000, and I remember the first Father’s Day without him being pretty rough. Twenty years on, though, I can remember him with a smile.
The way Jack Burns treated Greg Focker in “Meet the Parents” brought back memories of when I’d bring boyfriends home…
“You a pothead, Focker?”
Have a great Sunday. Lefty out.