Major League Baseball and Northeastern University have issued press releases today announcing that they have teamed up to establish a program which provides professional baseball players access to higher education programs and degrees. The degree programs, which include both bachelors and graduate studies, will be available to players at all levels both during and after their baseball playing days.
The agreement follows last year’s inclusion of a continuing education program in MLB’s collective bargaining agreement. That provided funds for players to pursue educational development. While, presumably, players can attend other institutions, Northeastern is the “preferred” school, which likely gives players more opportunities if they go there. In addition to Northeastern’s main campus in Boston, it provides remote learning opportunities in Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.
Northeastern has also agreed to provide dedicated counselors and career advisors to ballplayers taking advantage of the program. It is also pledging to support MLB’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program by preparing players for roles in the front office or on-field staffs after their playing careers end.
While many U.S.-based players who are drafted out of high school get their drafting team to agree to cover college expenses in exchange for them foregoing playing college baseball, there are are large number who don’t get such deals. And, of course, a large number of international players who begin their professional baseball journey while still teenagers.
This program will hopefully allow players who choose baseball over their education while they’re young to do so without sacrificing as much as they once were forced to. It will likewise, hopefully, provide a softer landing for the vast majority of professional baseball players who never get close to the major leagues.
In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.
The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.
Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.
Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.
There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.