Just say no to any neutral site World Series games

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Ken Rosenthal has a good column up today about how baseball’s future is so bright it’s gotta wear shades. Business is booming and looks as though it will continue to boom.  Technology that allows fans to get even more immersed in the game is leading the way to the future, and how the time is now ripe for baseball to build on it.

He only has one misstep — and he admits that it’s a problematic idea — and that’s talking up Scott Boras’ idea of a big World Series Weekend event in which baseball basically stages a party around the kickoff of the World Series in which awards are given out, other fan events are held and — in most constructions of the idea — at least one or two World Series games are played. All at a neutral site.

Which, in my mind, makes the idea a deal breaker.  Neutral site scenarios — most of which are launched when the weather gets nippy in late October — are just awful.  And not just on the grounds of tradition and unfairness to whichever team is losing home games.

As the NFL has taught us, if you have a neutral site event, the certainty of time and place of that event will invite — hell, demand — corporate underwriting. Contest winners, rights partners, advertising partners, and junket junkies will gobble up all the tickets, freezing out season ticket holders for contending teams and/or sending them to stratospheric prices on the secondary market.  The only thing keeping that from happening now — at least en masse — is that no one knows where the games will be until three or four days before they begin. Schedule Game 1 and Game 2 of next year’s World Series for San Diego tomorrow, and you can bet that all of the hotel rooms will be booked by the end of the month.

I don’t care how much money it makes or how much it grows the game (or how much those who stand to make all that money argue that it will grow the game). Baseball should not, under any circumstances, seek to emulate the Super Bowl.  That game has become a giant, overhyped-corpse of an event and I don’t want baseball to have any part in that kind of thing. Under such a scenario, Kirk Gibson hits his homer in the 1988 World Series where? Miami?

I agree that making the awards into an event of some kind would be a good thing. And the All-Star Game could use some help, I think.  But let’s leave the games that count alone.  They’re fine just the way they are.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics