Peter Gammons is bored, so he’s proposing expanding the playoffs:
But why not think about having two wild-card teams per league?
For instance, in what might be an aberrational season, the Giants,
Marlins, Braves and Cubs would be within 2½ games of that NL spot right
So MLB can avoid a Thanksgiving clash with the Lions, start
the season half a week earlier; someone much smarter than I points out
that, as opposed to starting on Monday and getting no one at weekday
games on Wednesday and Thursday, they should start on Thursday and play
the first weekend.
Then have the two-out-of-three play-in series on the weekend.
The several paragraphs he spends arguing against such an idea before he gets to the above-quoted bit is much more compelling. This year’s lack of exciting pennant races is an aberration. Expanding the playoffs risks cheapening both the playoffs and the regular season the way the NBA and NHL have done. I’m not a fan of the wild card as it is, but it’s been around long enough to
where I’m resigned to it. Let’s not press our luck any further though,
The most bizarre thing about this column, however, is that a guy like Gammons wrote it. He’s not a total purist or anything, but he’s not the kind of guy who tends to throw out ideas like this. Indeed, this column has all of the earmarks of an editor’s suggestion — “hey Pete! Put something together that argues for an expansion of the playoffs!” — rather than something Gammons actually believes in.
So it’s not only a bad idea, but it’s a bad idea poorly supported in its own right.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.