The Nationals will host their first playoff game ever tomorrow, and the first home baseball playoff game for any Washington team since 1933. The game time? 1PM. This is not making some folks in our nation’s capital happy. From the Post:
“It’s the worst-case scenario,” said John Quinn, who had already purchased tickets for Wednesday’s game and immediately e-mailed his supervisor about taking a half-day. “Some of us actually have to work. It’s really upsetting. This is the first time we’ve had playoff baseball since 1933, and to get the 1 o’clock start time and the MLB Network just seems really unfair.”
I made some comment about this on Twitter this morning and got a handful of similar sentiments. One person literally said “it feels like we’re being forced to choose between keeping our jobs or going to the game,” and expressed survivor’s guilt over the fact that she could go but her boyfriend couldn’t. Another said — I presume with a straight face — that “This is the first home playoff game in D.C. since 1933. Historical significance should play a role in time slots.”
The way I see it: if you’re complaining that your job is keeping you from seeing your baseball team in a playoff game, you’re complaining about having two things that a lot of people would kill to have.
Folks, it’s not great that Major League Baseball will do whatever it can to put the Yankees in a prime time playoff game while relegating other teams to day games. And sure, it would have been nice if MLB scheduled the Nats game a day earlier than it did. But (a) they’ve been doing it for a decade and a half now; (b) everyone knows that a lot of division series games are gonna be day games; and (c) even if the game time was announced a day earlier, how much difference would it make to your employer anyway? Is asking for the day off one day in advance that much worse than two days? Either way, you’re asking off on short notice. He or she is either amenable to that or not.
But even if that wasn’t the case, you’re not entitled to have playoff games conveniently scheduled around your job, whether your team’s accomplishments are historic or otherwise. Suck it up, Nats Nation.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.