News & Notes: Game Times/Umpires, Getting Healthy, R2C2, Draft Order, Red Sox, League Attendance

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Happy playoff time, everyone. I know we’re all excited for the playoffs, me most of all, but I do miss the monotony of regular season baseball. It’s always there, whenever you want to be there. There’s something about that feeling that’s just irreplaceable, at least in my opinion. Tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll have actual baseball to enjoy, though, and I for one am ecstatic that we get to enjoy the American League Wild Card Game again. 3 out of the last 4 experiences have been…stressful, let’s say, even if they’ve been more rewarding than not. Regardless, I’m glad the Yankees are skipping that step this year.

Anyway, we’re going to have a nightly “News and Notes” post between now and Friday to hold you over until the Yankees take the field again in addition to the coverage we’ll be bringing you each day. Strap in everyone. It’s going to be a fun ride.

Yankees-Twins Game Times + Umpires

MLB finally released the start times for the ALDS, per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. It’s only through Saturday, but I’ll take it. Oakland playing in the Wild Card game probably throws a wrench into things. Here is what we’ve all been waiting for:

Kind of annoying that Saturday isn’t a prime-time game, but honestly, whatever. All that matters is that the Yankees execute and win the games. When they play matters less to me than that. We’ll keep you posted on the game times for the rest of the series (hopefully just Game 3 after the Yankees sweep) once we find out more, probably on Thursday after the Wild Card games wrap up.

The league also released the umpires for the series. We’ll be providing in-depth coverage of the umps later in the week, so stay tuned for that. Until then:

Health Update

As we all know, the name of the game at this point is getting healthy for the Yankees in advance of Friday’s ALDS Game 1. There are three primary concerns at this point: Edwin Encarnación, James Paxton, and Gio Urshela. Brian Cashman had updates on the first two yesterday and Aaron Boone provided an updated on Urshela after the game. Here’s where we stand right now:

  • Edwin Encarnación (oblique): The Yankees “expect” him in the lineup on Friday, though his at-bats during workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday will provide more clarity on that, obviously. More to come. We’ll update you when we find out more.
  • James Paxton (tight ass): Cashman said that he’s “put this one in the rear mirror” already and that Paxton will be ready for Friday as well. Good news. I was definitely more than a little worried on Friday.
  • Gio Urshela (ankle): According to Boone, there is “no way” that this prevents him from playing Friday. Well, after 2019, I don’t want to quite say that’s that, but that sure does feel like that, doesn’t it?

Seems to be mostly good news for now. Let’s hope it stays that way and it’s all sunshine and roses regarding Yankee health from here on out. That would be a welcome change.

R2c2 Profile

Friend of the Blog™ Bradford William Davis has a fantastic piece in the New York Daily News today about CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco’s podcast R2C2. I’m sure you all have listened to every episode already, but this was a really nice job of giving us some behind-the-scenes info on the podcast (it was CC’s idea!). You can check out the whole piece here, but here’s what I found to be the money quote:

Beyond being a natural fit, it is a strategic play when trying to articulate the abstractions of a high paid sports league’s upcoming labor battle. As league revenues continue to soar, players earn an increasingly disproportionate share of the profits. Getting regular people to sympathize with the millionaires asking for more is vital towards that end.

“We think more attention should be given to who these guys are beyond the uniform,” said Tim Slavin, president of MLB Players, Inc in a statement to the News, “and we’ve found a solution in The Shift.” [The Association’s initiative to spotlight player stories, of which R2C2 is a part.]

More on this below, but it does feel like a labor war is coming–and it’s cool to think about how podcasts like R2C2 might end up playing a role in the battle for public opinion. It was also cool to hear about how CC’s status as one of the game’s highest-profile African-American players not only shapes the tone of the podcast but also the way in which players engage with it, as Cameron Maybin explicitly says in the piece. Good stuff. Give it a read.

Yankees Draft Slot

The 2020 draft order is now set. You probably have already figured this out on your own if you thought about it at all (order is determined by record), but the Yankees will pick 28th in next year’s Draft. Only the Dodgers and Astros will pick behind them. We’ll keep you up to date on this once it becomes relevant again, but for now, we’re focused on the playoffs. You should be too.

The full order is here, if you want to check it out.

Playoff Picture

The playoff picture, with the season over, is now obviously set. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it yet:

  • NL Wild Card Game: Brewers vs Nationals, 10/1 at 8:08 pm EST
  • AL Wild Card Game: Rays vs Athletics, 10/2 at 8:09 pm EST
  • NL Division Series 1: WC vs Dodgers, beginning 10/3 at 8:37 pm
  • NL Division Series 2: Cardinals vs Braves, beginning 10/3 at 5:02 pm
  • AL Division Series 1: WC vs Astros, beginning 10/4 at 2:05 pm
  • AL Division Series 2: Twins vs Yankees, beginning 10/4 at 7:07 pm

May these be fantastic playoffs filled with exciting games and 11 Yankee victories, please. I personally am very excited to watch the two Wild Card games before my insides eat themselves out of nervousness on Friday.

Managerial Changes

A few managerial changes over the last few days! I’m not going to get into any of them, but the Cubs fired Joe Maddon, the Pirates fired Clint Hurdle, and the Angels fired Brad Ausmus. I’m surprised by the last one–I’m really not sure what anyone could have done differently there. Must have been some internal friction.

Maddon will land another job soon–possibly in Los Angeles Anaheim–and I hope to see my old pal Joe Girardi land back on his feet. I always liked Joe and hope to see him get another good gig somewhere. Chicago does seem to be a good fit for him, just off the top of my head, but who knows.

Also, Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy both retired. It’ll be weird not having those two guys around the game next year.

Red Sox Cost Cutting…

I am so sick of this. After a weekend in which the Red Sox promoted a line that said owner John Henry and Dave Dombrowski started fighting literally the night they won the World Series over the future of the team (read: Dombrowski wanted to do it again, Henry didn’t care), ownership said they intend to get under the $208 million salary cap (that’s what this is now) and won’t be in play for big free agents, and players in Boston were openly discussing how the team wouldn’t pay Mookie the contract he deserves, team executives held a press conference today. Here’s what they said:

While at the same time saying this:

Give. Me. A. Break. This should put to bed (lol) the idea that ticket prices have anything to do with salary. They don’t. Team revenue and ticket prices have never been less dependent than they are now, but here we are.

This is all honestly so frustrating and I am a Yankees fan, for crying out loud. This trend is so bad for baseball that I don’t even know where to begin. Boston just won 108 games and the World Series less than 12 months ago and are blowing it up because executives don’t want to foot the bill to pay the players who will make the team exciting and fun for the foreseeable future. Mookie doesn’t have enough controllable years left, I guess.

Look. I love it when Boston shoots itself in the foot more than anyone. I really do. I hate the Red Sox and want the Yankees to beat them by 15 runs 19 times a year. But this is bad for the game that we all love. There is no excuse for it. Not to mention, we were on the cusp of revitalizing a rivalry that felt stagnant since, say, 2009 or so. But nope. Why bother trying?

…Might Have Something to Do With This?

Attendance is down league-wide by one million fans in 2019, including slides from our Yankees and the Astros. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with competition! Here’s a thought: maybe, just maybe, tickets are too expensive for families these days. That, on top of a ton of the league simply not trying and couching it in “smart development”, is not going to facilitate many people going out to the ballparks.

Everyone whines about the “three true outcomes” approach to baseball “ruining” the sport, but that is a load of crap and I think everyone knows it. The real issue with the game is that many teams aren’t trying and ticket prices are still rising. If baseball has a problem, it is one of its own making. It can’t say the warning signs weren’t there.

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12 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    TV viewership was up this year. The interest is there. I agree, though, that attendance is down because of tanking. The Astros were able to take advantage of the system to build a powerhouse team. Now about a third of the league is trying to convince their fans they’ll be the next Astros. It’s pure B.S. All those tanking teams can’t win, and few (if any) are as well-run and as focused as the Astros were.

    The fans of too many teams know before first pitch that their team not only has no chance, but they won’t even attempt to add talent to be vaguely competitive. The split between the top teams and the bottom teams is higher than I’ve seen in the 45+ years I’ve been watching MLB. Compound that with the incredibly boring off seasons now when free agents sit unsigned for months and months.

    Interest is still high in MLB, but MLB has implemented a series of rules that drive down attendance. Add in the high costs of games, and this is what you get.

  2. John

    The website is fantastic and you all do a very nice job. However, I do believe some of the writers need to tone it back with the Mike Axisa-like writing: the strikethroughs; the Capitalization of Certain Things; the tongue-in-cheek use of something like a trademark symbol; the frequent use of exclamation points. In my entire life I have seen one person write that way (Mike Axisa). It is so painfully obvious that many of the writers on this website are desperately trying to write in the exact manner in which Axisa writes.

    • Mill Rock

      I’m so glad this comment was approved so that I can laugh at how absurdly stupid it is.

    • RetroRob

      You need to get out more, John.

  3. dasit

    i want the MLBPA to strike the owners into the stone age
    honestly, i might sacrifice an entire season if it meant the owners crawling to the table with concessions

    • CountryClub

      As always, the players will run out of money (no matter how much they try to prepare for a long strike) before the owners will. Let’s remember that the players happily agreed to some of these financial concessions so they could get quality of life concessions from the owners. Bad leadership. If I’m the union, I’m trying to get young players paid sooner/more and I’m not concentrating on the 30+ yr old player.

      • RetroRob

        MLB players had quite a few strikes in the past when they were making way less money, so not sure I’m in agreement with what you said. Sure, the owners have more money so they can outlast the players, but they also have way more to lose. The game now is so profitable for the players that they have less incentive to strike, which in turn has caused the MLBPA to negotiate weaker deals. There does, however, come a breaking point, and I think we’re slowly heading that way.

        The owners have a lot to lose with a lengthy strike, especially the guaranteed TV money, which isn’t guaranteed once the games go away. The TV networks who are counting on baseball programming are going to put enormous pressure of MLB to avoid a strike. The players can use that to their advantage. Most of the Ivy League guys now in front offices weren’t involved in MLB during the last strike. Many were just kids. They’ve never dealt with a strike. Not sure these guys would know how to handle a street fight, or a gut punch, especially when their bosses (the owners) start questioning why their revenue has disappeared.

        I don’t expect a strike, or at least a lengthy one, because both sides are making so much money, although the odds of one now are much higher than they’ve been in 25 years.

  4. Wire Fan

    If you figure the Red Sox will be paying ~20M in LT fees on a 245-250ish payroll, getting under 208M would mean the owners pocket an extra 60ish million in extra profit next year. All sold under the guise of “resetting the tax rate”.

    It is amazing how FO’s have conditioned the media and their fanbases into the necessity of getting under the LT threshold.

    Can’t see Girardi going to the Cubs. Theo and Hoyer are likely going to look for a cheap yes man who carries out the FO’s bidding. I’d bet on a bench coach from another team or something crazy like Ross (don’t get the love for him) or Loretta? Maybe see Girardi in Philly? White Sox (LOL, as Renteria gets booted from another Chicago team about to start contending)? The Mets?

    • Kevin J Schappert

      Philly would benefit from Girardi, but does he want to manage a mediocre club? No way to the Mets, no how.

      • CountryClub

        Honestly, I’m guessing he wants any job he can get right now. I heard him on the radio last week and he said he didn’t get one call during this season to see if he had any interest in a job that may be opening up.

        • RetroRob

          He has turned down the opportunity to interview for jobs already. I suspect he wants the right job, but will also not demand anywhere near the money he was making with the Yankees.

  5. CountryClub

    I love the 5pm Saturday start time.

    Regarding attendance: unless/until they take a hit on TV money, owners won’t really care about attendance. It used to be their lifeblood. Not any more. The tv money is way, way more important.

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