Zack Wheeler on Bryce Harper: “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring”

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper recently offered his reaction upon learning that that the team added right-hander Max Scherzer to the fold. Naturally, he was positively giddy about the signing.

“To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.

Harper isn’t wrong. You could make the case that the Nationals had the best rotation in the game even before signing Scherzer. He has every reason to feel confident about their chances. However, comments like that aren’t going to be very popular with other teams. Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler heard what Harper said and believes that they can make things interesting this season. Here’s what he told John Harper of the New York Daily News:

“I guarantee you we all saw what Bryce Harper said,’ ” Wheeler said with a smile. “He said, ‘give me my ring,’ ” Wheeler continued. “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring, I’ll guarantee you that.”

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “It’s like, ‘they’ve got a good staff, but I wonder if we can go out there and sort of put them to shame. A bunch of young guys against the older guys; put ’em to shame, you know.

“Obviously they’re a good team, but that’s baseball. We’ve got a good pitching staff, so do they. We’ve got good athletes, so do they. Who cares? Let’s go.”

While it’s not on the level of the Nationals, the Mets project to have a very good rotation this season, as Wheeler will be joined by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon. Colon doesn’t quite fit the “young guys” line that Wheeler offered, but the Mets also have prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Steven Matz waiting in the wings. They have enough talent to compete for a Wild Card spot this season, but a lot would have to go right for them to make a run at first place. The Mets were just 4-15 against the Nationals last season, so this won’t be much of a rivalry until they can begin to turn that around.

Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.