MLB is making the best out of a bad situation in Baltimore


The empty-stadium game at Camden Yards today is going to be weird. And the Orioles being the “home” team in Tampa Bay this weekend is not ideal. But it’s rather difficult to see what else Major League Baseball could’ve done about all that is going on in Baltimore right now.

Nancy Armour of USA Today thinks differently. I don’t mean to single her out as, I’m sure, there are others who question what’s happening with these Orioles games. It’s fair to question it, as it’s just a weird situation all around and there are not truly satisfying answers. But a couple of the main points are worth talking about.

Her primary criticism is that baseball is “acting out of fear” and that baseball “assumes the worst of the people of Baltimore.” I’m sympathetic to that notion and feel like, if they had a normal game with fans allowed in and nothing bad happened, it would be a good thing that would go a long way toward combatting some of the worst stereotypes of the people of Baltimore since the unrest began. But I also don’t blame baseball for not taking that risk.

What if something does happen? What if riots or violence does interfere with fans going to and from the park? What if someone is injured? The injury would be bad for its own sake and the optics would be bad for both baseball and Baltimore, would they not? Less philosophically, Major League Baseball is a business. A business which has had teams incur liability in the recent past for being unable to ensure the safety of fans coming and going from the ballpark. It’s hard to blame that business for not knowingly taking such a risk in this situation, however much you’d like to see a game with fans pulled off in Baltimore today.

Armour’s other suggestions — moving the game to Washington or Philadelphia — aren’t realistic. She notes that business disputes between the Nats and Orioles prevents the former. Logistics make moving the games to a neutral location all the more difficult. Gearing up for a road trip to Tampa Bay is one thing. Moving stuff to a third location and figuring out the finances of that stuff is a lot more difficult. And who, really, would that serve? Not the people stuck in unrest in Baltimore right now. It might be nice for rich people in the suburbs who can take a road trip to see the O’s play in Washington or Philly, but they aren’t exactly the ones for whom we should be most concerned at the moment.

I agree with Armour and others that this is a less-than-ideal situation. But it seems to me that, between an unbalanced schedule which doesn’t have the White Sox coming back to Baltimore again this year and the risks and liabilities associated with putting a ballgame on in Baltimore at this very moment, it’s the best of many less-than-ideal options.

Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg’s status for 2023 ‘a mystery’

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Stephen Strasburg‘s status for 2023 is up in the air after a series of injuries that limited him to one start this season, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“It’s still a little bit of a mystery,” Rizzo said about the 2019 World Series MVP before the Nationals were scheduled to play a doubleheader at the New York Mets. “I know that he’s working hard strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We’re just going to have to see. With the type of surgery and rehab that he’s had, it’s unfamiliar to us. It’s unfamiliar to a lot of people. We’re going to have to take it day by day.”

The 34-year-old right-hander has thrown a total of 31 1/3 innings across just eight starts over the past three seasons combined. He had carpal tunnel surgery in 2020, then needed an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021.

After his only start of 2022, he went back on the injured list with a stress reaction of the ribs.

“We’ll have to see where the rehab process takes us later on in the winter,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to monitor him. He’s local, so we’ll see him all the time and we’ll see where he’s at going into spring training mode.”

Strasburg is a three-time All-Star who signed a $245 million contract after helping Washington win a championship in 2019.

He is 113-62 with a 3.24 ERA for his career.

Meeting with reporters toward the end of a rough season – Washington entered with a majors-worst and Nationals-worst record of 55-104 and shipped away the team’s best player, outfielder Juan Soto, at the trade deadline – Rizzo talked about doing “an autopsy of the organization.”

“I look at the season as a disappointment. I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now. It’s hard to argue with that,” Rizzo said. “The flip side of that is we’re in a process.”

Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez were given contract extensions during the season. Martinez said his entire coaching staff will return next year.