Losers walk: Only one end zone will be in use for the football game in Wrigley Field

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I said earlier this week that, based on the funky alignment of the gridiron and just how close the brick wall was to the end zone, Wrigley Field looked like an awful place to play tomorrow’s Northwestern-Illinois game.  I didn’t even know the half of it:

Only one end zone will be used at Wrigley Field on Saturday for the Illinois-Northwestern game because of safety concerns, Illinois sports information director Kent Brown said Friday.

The east end zone is feet away from the right-field wall, and although there is padding, there was still concerns that injuries could take place. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald had said he would have different game plans for the different end zones to avoid the possibility of injury.

The revised one-end zone rules are here.  If only they had, I dunno, a year to figure all of this out.  Or decades of experience with the Chicago Bears playing in that park to have some sort of reference on how to set up a football field there.  Or at least did a simple Google Image search like I did:

Instead of going out to right field, it went out to left.  It was still a tight squeeze in the end zone on the left, but only at one corner. And of course, back in those days there weren’t a ton of fade routes, what with all of that three yards and a cloud of dust stuff. The current alignment has the wall running along the entire back of the end zone and super fast dudes will be streaking all over the place.  My guess, though, is that under the old alignment they would have been just hunky dory.

Ultimately, using one end zone is the right call, because there’s just too much risk of injury having a brick wall in the back of the end zone.  But the fact that they’re just figuring this all out now, 24 hours before game time, is pretty pathetic.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.