1) The people who run MLB are more absurd than ever in their thinking. Labor battles can be unpleasant, but to what extent? As soon as the owners imposed a player lockout to officially start the skirmish for a new collective bargaining agreement, MLB followed up by erasing union members from the league’s official web site and cable TV network.
No more photos, video highlights or stories about current players on MLB.com. No more player-related stories on MLB.com. Erase the player names from promotional schedules.
(Sidebar: Hey, I see a violation! What’s this about a “Yadi” tumbler giveaway on June 26, when the Cardinals play the Pirates at Busch Stadium? SCRUB IT FROM THE CARDINALS SITE!)
There’s a player blackout on team social media accounts. And according to The Athletic, on-air MLB Network employees and MLB.com writers were advised to avoid mentioning active 40-man players’ names on air or in articles.
Not-so-subliminal message: See, MLB will always roll on. The players come and go. And right now they don’t even exist – but MLB is still here! The sport is bigger than the players!
Lame. And also false. The players are the sport.
The MLB is doing all of this, and more, for legal reasons – on the advice of the league’s legal counsel, the law firm of Proskauer Rose. But labor experts are pushing back on MLB’s decision and don’t believe such a step is necessary.
When asked about this move by MLB, Bruce Meyer, the lead negotiator for the players’ union, said the league made the decision independent of the players. “And you’ll have to ask them for their reasons.”
The Athletic quoted a number of analysts including Daniel Gilbert, a labor and history professor at the University of Illinois.
“It’s a stunning little dimension of the dispute,” Gilbert said. “It seems to be such a foolish strategy. By scrubbing the images from the website, they’re making one of the union’s fundamental arguments for them. I think the union is on solid ground by arguing that you can’t have something called Major League Baseball without the players who make it happen. You don’t have the Angels without (Shohei) Ohtani and (Mike) Trout. You don’t have the Dodgers without Mookie (Betts) and (Walker) Buehler. You don’t have the Yankees without (Aaron) Judge and (Giancarlo) Stanton.”
Well, that’s not literally true. But I understand the professor’s point.
And that brings me to this: don’t you want your fans to stay connected to the players this offseason? Isn’t a good and positive thing for fans to visit MLB sites and platforms to look at highlights, and maintain enthusiasm by watching video of Tyler O’Neill smashing home runs and making great catches? The lockout is awful for the game, and for fan relations. But during this unfortunate time, when you’ve already pulled the plug on your own offseason, why disconnect completely? Don’t you want to give your fans something to look forward to? And give them reasons to smile by going to the MLB site to watch video of Harrison Bader making a spectacular diving grab, or reliving that crazy rundown play by the Cardinals late in the season at Wrigley Field? Why take that away? It’s just stupid.
Just so you know: MLB remains happy to offer you some merchandise. For a price, of course. At the start of the week, MLB was selling player jerseys – complete with player names and numbers – on its website.
Good job as always, Rob Manfred.
2) Wait a second. No. 138 Missouri is gonna play a basketball game at No. 4 Kansas on Saturday? Is there a way for the Tigers to get out of it? Is it too late to cancel?
3) According to Forbes, the Blues’ franchise value is up to $640 million – an increase of $25 million from last year. And over the last five years the value of the Blues has risen by $106 million.
4)The Blues rank 21st among the 32 NHL teams in this year’s Forbes franchise-value listings. Looking at NHL Central teams, Chicago ($1.4 billion) is No. 4 overall, Dallas ($720 million) is at No. 16, Minnesota ($675 million) is 19th. The Blues have a higher value than Colorado (22nd at $630 million), Nashville (25th at $600 million) and Winnipeg (26th at $575 million.) The top three teams in the NHL are the New York Rangers at $2 billion, followed by Toronto ($1.8 billion) and Montreal ($1.6 billion.)
5) According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cardinals’ Top Prospect for 2021 is Jordan Walker, the 19-year-old sensation that’s fast-tracking it to the majors. And BP is quite excited about him.
“There is nothing ordinary about Jordan Walker anyway,” BP wrote. “He hits the ball as hard as anyone in the minors. His contact rates were perfectly fine given his age and experience level. Despite some long levers in his swing, he has above-average bat speed, an advanced approach, and doesn’t expand. Walker doesn’t sell out for dingers and is fine driving the ball the other way when the pitch calls for it. He’s not a mere corner slugger, there is a chance for a plus hit tool.
“And if Walker does hit .280, well, a lot of his prodigious raw power is going to get into games. He still has room to fill out and turn his plus-plus raw into true elite pop. It’s showing up more as doubles than true over-the-fence power right now, but 14 bombs in 82 games given the leagues and parks he was playing in is nothing to sneeze at. You want to see the approach and swing tested in the upper minors, of course, but the offensive upside here is as high as any hitter in the minors.”
6) But what about Walker’s defense? Here’s more from Baseball Prospectus: “We do have to talk about the defensive profile, although this is an impact bat anywhere on the diamond. Walker is presently fine at third base. He’s also already on the larger side for a left side infielder. It’s an XL frame and he’s likely to add more physicality as he enters his 20s. That might get him to 40 home runs a season, it also likely to make him a left fielder or first baseman. But to quote Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, ‘I don’t care.’ ”
7) I’m gonna keep going on Jordan Walker. Baseball Prospectus projects him as a “frequent MLB All-Star.” And Baseball America checked in Tuesday by also rating Walker as STL’s No. 1 prospect. (Nolan Gorman is No. 2 at both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.)
As for Walker’s near future, here’s Baseball America’s assessment. “Walker’s combination of tools and performance fit the profile of a future middle-of-the-order hitter. After the way he performed at the Class A levels, he looks ready for an assignment to Double-A as a 19-year-old, and it’s not out of the question he could make it to Triple-A by the end of the 2022 season.”
8) Baseball America, on Nolan Gorman: “On track to be a middle-of-the order slugger who hits 30-35 home runs per year. He is in position to make his major league debut sometime during the 2022 season.”
9) Kris Kristofferson’s epic “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” is among the greatest songs ever written.
10) If the Indianapolis Colts make it to the playoffs behind the remarkable rushing and playmaking of running back Jonathan Taylor, then Taylor should be the NFL Most Valuable Player for 2021. He’s having an exceptional season, leading the league in rushing yards (1,348) which is 370 yards more than the next back on the list. He leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns (16) and average yards per carry. During Indy’s current 4-1 run into playoff contention Taylor has averaged 140 yards rushing per game, caught 15 passes, and scored 11 touchdowns.
In this, his second NFL season, Taylor is the first player in NFL history to have a touchdown in 10 straight games before his 23rd birthday. It isn’t easy to run the football in the NFL, and those who excel at it are increasingly rare. Here’s a fancy-pants stat: in expected value added in rushing the football, the Colts easily rank No. 1 in the league. And only four NFL teams have above-average value in rushing. As for Taylor, he’s averaging 1.5 more yards over expectations for each carry. He was great at Wisconsin, and he’s great in the NFL, and the Colts were sharp to draft him 41st overall in 2020.
AS OTHERS SEE US
Pundits and analysts are weighing in on the menu of college football bowl games. Let’s have a look at what they’re saying about Army vs. Mizzou in The Armed Forces Bowl to be played in Fort Worth on Dec. 22.
– Patrick Stevens of the Washington Post subjectively ranked the 42 bowls on quality and appeal and put Mizzou-Army at the bottom. Yep, at No. 42.
“Missouri is giving up 228.8 rushing yards per game, ‘good’ for 125th nationally,” Stevens wrote. “Army rushes for 301.2 yards per game. It’s not hard to guess where this is headed, though it should be enjoyable for those who like watching option offenses carve up opponents.
– The Athletic’s projection model has a close game, with the simulation average coming in at Army 29.6 points, to Missouri’s 26.8. That would be a win for those who like the under (any final score below a combined 59.5 points.)
Wrote Austin Mock: “Missouri’s rush defense was absolutely abysmal early in the season as they allowed 6.3 yards per play through the first eight games of the season and the lowest rushing total allowed in a game during that period was 174 yards in the season opener to Central Michigan. So why would my model like the under in a game involving that rush defense against Army which literally will run the ball on almost every single down? Well, this Missouri defense made strides over the final third of the season allowing only 3.5 yards per carry and the highest yardage total over those four games was 168 yards on the road against Georgia.
“Obviously, strides have been made since some defensive staff changes in the middle of the season and the Tigers will have multiple weeks to prepare for the option here which should help them out. Army’s recent bowl games have flown over the total, but I think Army’s defense matches up well here, too. Missouri doesn’t exactly light up the scoreboard and they like to run the ball as well, which is Army’s strength on defense. If we can avoid the explosive runs in this one, I think we will be in good shape here as the game script plays out for both teams trying to run the ball a lot.”
– Adam Rittenberg of ESPN predicts a final score of Army 32, Missouri 28.
“If this matchup had happened midseason, Missouri seemingly wouldn’t have had much of a chance,” he wrote. “The Tigers’ run defense was beyond dreadful, leading to a change on the defensive staff. But Missouri improved significantly against the run later on, holding both South Carolina and Florida to less than 100 yards on the ground. Army will provide a big test, though, as the Knights rank second nationally in rushing (301.2 yards per game). Other than the Wake Forest loss, Army’s defense has been solid, although Missouri is capable of attacking in multiple ways. Coach Jeff Monken is 3-0 in Dallas-area bowl games, and gets another win.”
Thanks for reading …
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