The Futures Game Was Yesterday. You Probably Missed It.

Associated Press
34 Comments

Each July, the top international prospects in all of baseball play an all-star game against the top American prospects in all of baseball. Some of the players involved are so good and so close to big league level that they could very well be key additions to contenders in the second half. Others will form the foundation of your favorite team as early as next season and for many, many seasons to come.

The 2017 Futures Game took place yesterday. The U.S. won, with Tampa Bay Rays prospect Brent Honeywell striking out four in two innings of work and Astros prospects Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker each hitting RBI doubles. At one point White Sox prospect Michael Kopech struck out fellow White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada on a 100.7-mph fastball. Exciting, both in terms of storyline and in terms of baseball action.

But you probably missed all of that. Just as you probably miss the Futures Game each year because the scheduling of it is aggressively bad. Indeed, it is seemingly calculated to maximize the number of baseball fans — and baseball insiders for that matter — who do not see it.

Yesterday the game began at 4pm, which is the absolute peak time for big league action given that the early games were all still going on and the late games were all getting underway. While MLB.com sent some of its beat writers to Miami a day early in order to get people to cover it, the media contingent for local papers, TV stations and web outlets were back home or on the road covering their big clubs. Many national media members were en route to Miami for the All-Star festivities and not yet at Marlins Park. The park itself was about half empty.

Why Major League Baseball insists on scheduling the Futures Game at the worst possible time is beyond me. They could, if they chose, move the usual Sunday Night Baseball game to the day and give it a prime time showcase. I’m sure the Tigers and Indians players who played until almost midnight the night before their midseason vacation began wouldn’t have minded. Now that the second half does not begin until Friday — it used to be Thursday — they could play the Futures Game on Monday, do the Home Run Derby on Tuesday and the All-Star Game on Wednesday. They could also shift the whole All-Star break to a weekend if they wanted to, altering the schedule a bit more radically. It’s not like there are football or basketball games this time of the year to compete with weekend viewing.

I’ve asked MLB people about this several times in the past. Each time I do, I get some tautological explanation about how it’s scheduled at this time because they believe it’s the best time to schedule it or some such nonsense. Meanwhile, they schedule their D-list heavy Celebrity Softball Game to air via tape delay after the Home Run Derby. That’s not ideal, but at least it doesn’t have to compete with actual baseball. It gets its own showcase and a couple hours of promotion during the Derby.

The Futures Game is a cool event. It may be the best baseball event with the exception of actual Major League competition. Too bad MLB makes a point to ensure that it’s played at the same time as lots and lots of Major League competition.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.