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Anthony Rizzo wants MLB schedule to be shorter

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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo thinks baseball’s 162-game schedule is too long, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports. Rizzo said during an appearance on ESPN 1000, “I think we play too much baseball. Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run it will make everything better.”

Rizzo was just activated from the disabled list and is in Tuesday’s lineup against the Cardinals. Temperatures in Chicago around game time (8:05 PM ET) are expected to be around 36 degrees. “I think playing in the cold sucks. I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don’t think about playing in 20 degrees,” Rizzo said.

If the season can’t be shortened, Rizzo would at least like to have the regular season start later. He said, “In a perfect world, we’d start the season later and play a few scheduled doubleheaders going into an off day. As a fan you’re going to a baseball game in April, and it’s raining, snowing and [with] freezing rain. Is it really that much fun? That’s my question.”

Not only will the players likely take pay cuts if the season were to be shortened, baseball team owners would see a marked decline in revenues. At least one of two things would happen as a result of that: staff would be cut (front office and otherwise), and prices (tickets, concessions, et. al.) would increase.

As a player, Rizzo shouldn’t even be suggesting that the players would take a pay cut. That would obviously need to be collectively bargained, but saying it hypothetically already creates an expectation that that should happen. The season could be shortened and players wouldn’t have to take pay cuts if they were to successfully negotiate as such. In other words: don’t give ownership any ideas.

The players bargained for more off-days in the last round of negotiations for the CBA, which came at the cost of starting the season earlier. Having the season start later might come at the cost of those off-days. It also might simply rearrange when players experience inclement weather as temperatures in October can dip quite low as well. Rizzo’s idea about more scheduled double-headers is unlikely to be accepted by the player’s union because of the added injury risk.

Shortening the schedule isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that has been gaining traction as a result of the abnormally disruptive weather to start the season. Rizzo conceded as much, saying, “This is kind of a freak April.” Given that most stadiums don’t have roofs, shortening the schedule and starting the season later are two short-term ideas to work around inclement weather. But in the grand scheme of things, it may take every new stadium having a roof to fix that issue.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.