Nationals fans are not happy about a 1PM start time for tomorrow’s game

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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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.