Early Lockout Thoughts

The inevitable happened and it’s still annoying. Like a dreaded Monday after a good weekend, the owner-imposed lockout of MLB players happened last week and now we’re left with a cold, relatively baseball-less winter. As a quick aside, I’m being generous in calling the 2021 season a good weekend, huh? Regardless of that, it looks like we’re in for the long haul, so let’s have some reminders.

  1. It’s not your money! This applies to free agent signings and it applies to revenues in baseball. That money is not yours and is never going to be yours. Don’t hate on it when players ask for more of it; they have a relatively short window to earn as much as they can and, dammit, they should, just like any of us would. I would rather my money go to the people actually providing the entertainment than the wealthy people who pay their checks.
  2. You wouldn’t do your job for less money than you think you’re worth, right? Right. And neither should nor will MLB players. Baseball is a game, sure, but to the players, it’s also work and this dispute is just like any number of work disputes any one of us could have. They’re going to–just like we would–fight for what they think they deserve. Will they necessarily get it all? Probably not. But they’re right to fight for it and we ought to support them; they’re much more like us–workers–than they are the owner–bosses.
  3. Unionize your workplace! This goes especially for minor league baseball players. I hope we see them unionize real soon.

Now, to a more Yankee specific thought.

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The Views From 314ft Podcast Episode 81: Locked-out and Loaded

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Just because there’s an MLB lockout doesn’t mean there’s one for The Views from 314ft podcast. Randy, Rohan, and Derek join to discuss all things lockout and free agency. The three share their differing views on how they feel about the lockout and what needs to happen next. They also lament the degraded relationship between the players and owners. Next, they discuss the free agent frenzy that preceded the lockout and share their thoughts on what the Yankees will do. The episode concludes with some basketball talk because there won’t be any baseball to speak of for some time.

The podcast is still a remote recording. We are operating over Skype, so we apologize in advance for any sound quality issues. We hope you continue to bear with us as internet connections can always be tricky during recording.

The podcast is now available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher, so please subscribe, drop a five-star rating, and spread the word. We hope this gives you some distraction from all the craziness in the world right now.

Again, we apologize for any sound quality issues. We’re making the most of an inconvenient situation as all of you are. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the pod and spread the word.

How the dual-ball season may have affected the Yankees

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If you haven’t yet read Bradford William Davis’ reporting on MLB’s usage of two different baseballs during the 2021 season, you’ll want to do so now. It’s essential reading. Davis, along with Dr. Meredith Wills’ research, showed clear cut evidence of two different balls being used in 2021. The league admitted as such, but blamed it on COVID-19.

The two different balls had different specifications and thus resulted in different performance outcomes. The league didn’t inform anyone about this, players included, though the players may have had a hunch something was awry. The original plan was to introduce a single and more consistent ball in 2021. Instead, balls from prior year specifications were circulated. There’s already plenty of speculation about how the league could have done this — I have a Yankees-related theory to present, too — but first, some hypotheses about how the balls were mixed in, straight from the report:

While the league blames COVID-19 for the dual-ball season and says it won’t happen again, some of the players reached by Insider entertained more conspiratorial hypotheses. For example: What if MLB sent a disproportionate number of either ball to a specific park or for a specific set of games, putting its thumb on the scale to create incentivized to introduce two baseballs” to try to produce higher- or lower-scoring games.

The National League pitcher who replicated Wills’ study believes MLB “is more or less incentivized to introduce two baseballs” to try to produce higher- or lower-scoring games.

“You know, send a bouncier baseball, lighter baseball — whichever flies more — to a primetime series,” he told me, listing off marquee matchups like Yankees-Red Sox and Mets-Phillies. “Then,” he suggested, send more dead baseballs to “Texas versus Seattle. Or, you know, Detroit versus Kansas City. No one’s going to bat an eye.”

On the other hand, he speculates, the league could flip that approach around and send high-octane balls to low-profile games and “produce more offense,” which might “put more seats in the stands. Just continue to bring up fan engagement.”

Again, these are merely unproven hypotheses. But they sure are interesting, no? Here’s my theory: MLB consistently supplied the new balls to games played at Yankee Stadium. In other words: the baseball that doesn’t travel as far was used exclusively in the Bronx, whereas the Yankees played with a mix of the two elsewhere. Here’s some data I was able to pull via Baseball Savant:

Thoughts as the lockout looms

The current CBA expires at 11:59pm eastern tonight. As the clock winds down, it doesn’t look like a new deal is coming. Maybe things will change in the coming hours, but considering the recent run on free agents, the writing is on the wall. The owners are expected to lock out the players, thereby freezing transactions, not allowing players to use team facilities, and more. You won’t see pictures like this for a while:

@JoeyGallo24

From everything I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like regular season games are in jeopardy. There’s still a ways to go until spring training, after all. That said, prepare yourself for radio silence in terms of hot stove news for the next few weeks and months. All that buzz and excitement over the last few days? A product of an anticipated lockout, sure, but good for the league nonetheless. And yet, the owners are ready to shut that down to gain negotiating leverage.

As a result, it’s going to be pretty difficult to discuss anything Yankees-related in the near future. This could be the last Yankees-related thoughts post for some time, so let’s jump in:

Yankees Free Agent Target: Trevor Story

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I’m just as frustrated as you likely are about the Yankees sitting on the sidelines during this recent free agent frenzy. Nearly all of the top shortstops are now off the board, with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien going to Texas and Javier Báez off to Detroit. The top starting pitchers are gone too. And yet, there are still two big name shortstops out there for the Yankees to grab: Carlos Correa and the subject of today’s post, Trevor Story.

Now, am I confident that the Yankees actually play at the top of the market for Story (or Correa)? Not very at the moment. In spite of Brian Cashman telegraphing the team’s intent to spend and address the shortstop position, reports have now trickled out over the last couple of weeks that the Yankees are more likely to go the stopgap route. I hope that’s not true given Correa and Story’s availability. Nonetheless, I’m having a hard time giving the Yankees the benefit of the doubt given recent seasons’ behavior.

Still, until the ink dries on a new contract, the Yankees are not necessarily out on Story. We already know there’s interest in the shortstop — the team wanted to trade for him at the deadline and Jaime profiled him then — but the Rockies tripped all over themselves instead. Colorado will get some compensation once he signs elsewhere because Story rejected the qualifying offer, but perhaps a deadline deal would have suited them better. Anyway, that time has come and gone, so let’s turn to Story’s free agency outlook.

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