St. Louis has played on Sunday night in two straight weeks as part of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” game, with another appearance slated for May 25, and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is sick of having a different schedule than other teams.
Here’s what he told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
That reply, “Consider yourself lucky”–that doesn’t mean anything to us. Our job is to win games, and I feel that this is something that affects us one way or another. Nobody is going to give us any sympathy on this but if you’re seeking an honest reply and what they keep telling us–consider it fortunate–it just doesn’t fit to us. …
It is a compliment that they want to see us on the national scene. (But) I don’t think it’s taken into consideration at all that it makes it harder for us. You get back at 4 a.m. and have to play the next day? You’re telling me that’s not going to affect you? We’re not looking for excuses, but it’s happened to us. You start watching guys get run down.
It’s certainly a fair point and one I’ve heard raised by prominent NFL teams that frequently play on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights instead of the usual Sunday afternoons, but like Matheny says it’s tough to feel sorry for a team when the reason their schedule is different is that they’re consistently so good and everyone wants to watch them in primetime.
Goold notes that the Cardinals’ upcoming May 25 appearance on “Sunday Night Baseball” is followed the next day by an afternoon game against the Yankees, so that’s exactly the type of quick turnaround Matheny is frustrated by.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?