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Anthony Rizzo wants MLB schedule to be shorter

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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo thinks baseball’s 162-game schedule is too long, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports. Rizzo said during an appearance on ESPN 1000, “I think we play too much baseball. Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run it will make everything better.”

Rizzo was just activated from the disabled list and is in Tuesday’s lineup against the Cardinals. Temperatures in Chicago around game time (8:05 PM ET) are expected to be around 36 degrees. “I think playing in the cold sucks. I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don’t think about playing in 20 degrees,” Rizzo said.

If the season can’t be shortened, Rizzo would at least like to have the regular season start later. He said, “In a perfect world, we’d start the season later and play a few scheduled doubleheaders going into an off day. As a fan you’re going to a baseball game in April, and it’s raining, snowing and [with] freezing rain. Is it really that much fun? That’s my question.”

Not only will the players likely take pay cuts if the season were to be shortened, baseball team owners would see a marked decline in revenues. At least one of two things would happen as a result of that: staff would be cut (front office and otherwise), and prices (tickets, concessions, et. al.) would increase.

As a player, Rizzo shouldn’t even be suggesting that the players would take a pay cut. That would obviously need to be collectively bargained, but saying it hypothetically already creates an expectation that that should happen. The season could be shortened and players wouldn’t have to take pay cuts if they were to successfully negotiate as such. In other words: don’t give ownership any ideas.

The players bargained for more off-days in the last round of negotiations for the CBA, which came at the cost of starting the season earlier. Having the season start later might come at the cost of those off-days. It also might simply rearrange when players experience inclement weather as temperatures in October can dip quite low as well. Rizzo’s idea about more scheduled double-headers is unlikely to be accepted by the player’s union because of the added injury risk.

Shortening the schedule isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that has been gaining traction as a result of the abnormally disruptive weather to start the season. Rizzo conceded as much, saying, “This is kind of a freak April.” Given that most stadiums don’t have roofs, shortening the schedule and starting the season later are two short-term ideas to work around inclement weather. But in the grand scheme of things, it may take every new stadium having a roof to fix that issue.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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