Guerrero celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 5 of their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in St. Petersburg

Plaschke: Five things baseball needs to do in order to fix the postseason

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The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke has a column today offering the five things he’d do in order to “fix” the baseball playoffs.  Let’s take them one-by-one:

Stretch out the Division Series to seven games

This, in theory, I like. Anything that can reduce the fluky nature of a short series would be nice. Plus, more baseball is always a better idea than less baseball. Which makes the second suggestion so awful:

Reduce the season to 154 games

No thanks. Plaschke offers this one as a means of accommodating the longer first round, but I think there are better ways to do it. For one things the owners aren’t going to want to simply eliminate eight games from the revenue stream, er, I mean schedule. Instead, schedule extra double headers. One a month would almost totally make up for the longer first round. The biggest objection to double headers now is that they reduce revenue due to wonky TV times and reduction in gate. I think a lower bit of revenue in this respect is preferable to the total elimination of it for eight games under Plaschke’s plan, don’t you?

Eliminate weekend playoff games

This is the one that bothers me the most on a gut level. Not because the absence of weekend playoff games would gall me so much — to be honest, I’m more likely to watch during the week as it is because of social commitments and whatnot — but because the suggestion for this is to avoid competition with football. Maybe it makes sense. Football ratings are pretty unstoppable, I suppose. But man, that’s defeatist and it just bugs me on a primal level. I realize that everything in the world is for sale and that I’m probably swimming against the tide in this regard, but baseball was there first, dammit. I don’t care if it gets beat in the ratings by a random NFL game. I don’t care if it gets beat by a “Punky Brewster” marathon on ABC Family.  Besides, if Plaschke is really animated about the TV ratings, his next suggestion makes no sense anyway:

Play more day games

The reason: day baseball is charming and baseball needs to “get back to its roots.” Look, if charm is what you’re after, that’s great. I love charm! And I love day baseball. But if you care about the ratings as Plaschke obviously does based on the last suggestion, this would be suicide. We all complain about late baseball games, but there’s a reason for them: better ratings. People aren’t at work (and if the playoffs are only during the week, yes, everyone who still has a job in this economy is going to be at work). The only hope of this working is if you make it a Saturday or Sunday game, and then you’re up against Big State U. vs. Big State Tech or some of that awful NFL business.

Reduce the champagne showers

This is a just because. And as I’ve been writing lately, I’d be on board with it. It’d be silly to ban it, obviously, because players are grownups and they should do whatever the hell they want to do, but if I was running a team I’d really hope that my players would limit it to clinching the postseason and winning the World Series. But I suppose everyone’s mileage on this varies.

So where does that leave us? Surprised, really. I agree with two of Plaschke’s five suggestions entirely and one in theory, even if I think it’s probably unworkable.  A 60% agreement rate has to be some kind of record for me when it comes to Plaschke columns and/or columns about fixing a game that really isn’t broken.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.