You know, just for a second there, I thought baseball might give everyone a little time to enjoy the lockout being over, to soak in the excitement of the anticipation of spring training games and the season that will start right on its heels. To feel the reflected heat of the Arizona and Florida sun as we tune in for warmup games (admit it, you only tune in to see the sun again). And maybe if you’re a fan of the Mariners, possibly Braves, certainly Mets, you very well might feel that way. Of course, that wasn’t a problem before.
But no, when you’re an asshole, you don’t wait around to be an asshole.
Mere days after the lockout was lifted, we saw the A’s and Reds either begin a teardown (A’s) or push one into hyperdrive (Reds). Boy that draft lottery really scared them off diving to the bottom, didn’t it? The A’s packed Matt Olson into a box marked “To Atlanta” days after catapulting Chris Bassitt to Queens. We know Matt Chapman and others aren’t far behind.
The Reds, who had already started their burning down the bar for insurance money before the lockout, didn’t lose any momentum toward the ditch when they sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to Seattle. Which came after simply letting Wade Miley walk to the Cubs and trading Sonny Gray to the Twins for a bunch of kids studying for their social studies test tomorrow. Nick Castellanos probably hasn’t even gotten a phone call from the Cincy front office to tell him to fuck off. The Reds have been the ones crying poorest all through the lockout and they’re determined to prove it, apparently.
So the A’s and Reds join the Pirates, Guardians, Marlins, Orioles, and Rockies as teams we know aren’t even trying (whatever those Kris Bryant to Denver rumors are, as that’s not much more than ass-covering). Maybe the Cubs are on this list, though they’ll make a lot of noise that their not, right up until the point they trot out the moronic husk of Andrelton Simmons at short on Opening Day because either Nico Hoerner or Nick Madrigal had their tiny hamstrings go twang. Your mileage on the D-Backs, Royals, and Nationals may vary. At least the latter provided a World Series win just three seasons ago.
Your latest World Series champs just replaced the most beloved player on their team, Freddie Freeman, without so much as a phone call because Matt Olson was cheaper (though just about as good, to be fair, but you know what the deciding factor was). And we know that Braves ownership isn’t exactly finding lint and moths in their pockets.
That’s up to a third of the league letting the season pass by. Wasn’t this the problem? And of the teams making a go of it, we know the Rays don’t spend, the Angels were a hardliner about the CBT threshold during the lockout. The Braves we mentioned above. So how many new avenues did the plates really open up to get more money for themselves? And what are the fans of those teams supposed to get excited about? Oh right, prospects. The great promise of tomorrow. The “leader” from The Simpsons who will take them all to salvation as long as they eat the flavorless lima beans for the next few years. But is actually just pocketing all the cash.
They weren’t done of course. You thought you were free of the ghost runner in extra innings? You’re not. Even though fans hate it, the players and owners want to bring it back. Players like it because they don’t want to spend six hours at the park when they don’t have to. Owners don’t want to have to do as many Triple-A shuffles and pay more players a MLB per diem and salary thanks to bullpen burnout. Even though it gives MLB a cartoonish gimmick to end real games that impact standings and playoff bids, which is exactly what the NHL does.
Who sits around and says, “Y’know, we need to be more like hockey?”
Oh, and in a bit of deserved karma for baseball in general but awful for those of us who like fun, Fernando Tatis Jr. apparently got in repeated fights with his motorcycle over the winter and broke his wrist and is out for at least the first two months of the season. Cool cool cool cool.
At least Steve Cohen doesn’t give a fuck.