Jayson Stark spoke with a major league general manager — we don’t know which one — who had a couple of interesting things to say about the length of the season and player stamina and all of that. The upshot: the GM thinks the season is too long, players can’t handle it, and it needs to be shortened.
What’s more, he cites teams’ use of the disabled list as evidence of this. Check it out:
“The season’s too long. Guys can’t handle it. In fact, you’d be amazed how many of these DLs are just teams covering for guys who can’t handle it. This isn’t just about guys not being able to handle it physically. Guys can’t handle it mentally. They need mental breaks to regroup.”
The GM goes on to recommend a number of changes to the schedule, including lopping off games, mandatory off days each week and stuff like that in order to keep players fresh. Stark suggests that the fact that players don’t take greenies anymore has something to do with all of this.
I have no idea what kind of toll being a professional athlete takes on one’s body and one’s mind. But if this is as bad as the GM makes it out to be, I would think before you go proposing that the schedule be shortened — which will never happen due to the financial impact — you’d consider proposing a couple extra roster spots so as to give managers the ability to give guys a day off once in a while. This would be especially important for position players who, once upon a time, had more backups on the team but don’t anymore because people have decided that they need 13 guys on the pitching staff.
File this all under “interesting, but what the hell can you really do about it, practically speaking?”
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?