Rob Manfred expects there to be spring training games in Cuba next year


Commissioner Rob Manfred is visiting all of the teams and taking Q&As from players and team personnel, and Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Rob Manfred’s visit to the Cardinals.

There is a lot of ground covered on the usual big issues of the game commissioners usually cover when doing such things. Stuff like the DH — Manfred has no desire to change things — Pete Rose, pace of play and the like.

Two issues he touched on, however, offer at least a little bit of new information. The first, baseball in Cuba:

Manfred said he envisions major-league players performing in Cuba during spring training next year, now that diplomatic relations have been restored between the U.S. and Cuba.

“That would be my best guess, based on the state of the conversations with the government,” he said.


The second, levels of offense, which he had been concerned about back in the spring:

“We’re watching the offense thing very carefully,” he said. “We’re not sure that what’s happened the last couple of years is going to continue.

“It’s more than possible that some of the great athletes we have are going to adjust to some of the changes that have occurred and offense will go the other way. There’s some things in the numbers that suggest that might be the case.

“We’ll continue to monitor it. It’s obviously a topic of concern but we haven’t made our minds up that it even needs to be addressed. It may self-correct.”

I’m going to take that as a winking admission that MLB is going to juice the ball like they did back in 1987 — a test that was too effective and which was quickly reversed — and then did so more thoroughly back in 1993 to boost offense and reversed around the time of the Mitchell Report to make it look like drug testing was more effective.

What? I’m not allowed to have conspiracy theories? It’s a free country. And my conspiracy theories are shared by some people, so it’s not like I’m a lone nut. Just a nut.


Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.