The NFL starts today. I’m sure most of you are happy about that. But as the sports/media zeitgeist goes football crazy, I’m going to remind myself that (a) the Orioles are playing a home game in Baltimore tonight; and (b) the Ravens are opening on the road. Why? Because the NFL was unable to bully and whine to get its own way and have the Orioles move their game.
You’ll recall the scheduling conflict from last March. The Orioles had their schedule in place first and the NFL and its surrogates, claiming Divine Right to have its Super Bowl champ open at home on Thursdays, publicly moaned and complained that the Orioles should make way for the more popular and successful NFL.
Really, that was the argument. Remember this gem? And this? And this? The entire public debate over it was couched in the Orioles “doing the right thing” and moving their previously scheduled game. Not because it made more logistical sense for anyone. Not because some treasured and long-standing tradition was in peril (the home game on Thursday night for the Super Bowl champ is a relatively new invention). But because, dammit, the NFL deserved to have that date for their use more than baseball did. Because it’s the NFL.
Well, poo, you lost, football people. And for my part I have no problem feeling petty and nyah-nyah-nyah about it all. And I sort of hope that the O’s-White Sox game tonight goes 18 sloppy innings before a 1/4 capacity crowd, just for the yuks.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.