MLB schedule release
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MLB might eliminate leagues, go with universal DH for 2020

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Eliminate MLB leagues? Yep. Read on.

One of the things I’ve been reminded of while doing all of those Today in Baseball History posts is that, until very recently, MLB as an institution didn’t really manage the game in an active way. Rather, the leagues — the National League and American League — did. Major League Baseball handled negotiations with the players union and worked on national TV deals, but each of the leagues had their own presidents, each had their own set of umpires, each doled out discipline, each made its own decisions about expansion and things like that.

It was not until Bud Selig took over that power was truly consolidated in the main MLB office. At first the league presidents became ceremonial figures. Then they were eliminated entirely. Then everything of substance was put under MLB’s umbrella. Today the AL and NL exist solely as organizational concepts and don’t function like actual leagues, with the DH or lack thereof being the only real difference between them.

Which makes this report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today make a lot of sense. He says that Major League Baseball is considering doing away with the American and National Leagues for the 2020 season entirely.

Like the Arizona Bubble League thing it’s just an idea being thrown out there, but to eliminate MLB leagues is something of a radical idea. As for the specifics of the idea: they’d split the 30 teams between Arizona and Florida based on the geography of their spring training sites, creating Cactus League and Grapefruit League divisions for the abbreviated season. What’s more — and what’s likely to get the most discussion — would be that the DH “would likely be universally implemented.” Which, really, if you’re expanding rosters and dealing with weird, fastracked, pitcher-health-endangering baseball to begin with, is probably a good idea.

Nightengale says that two more Wild Card teams could be added or — echoing an idea I had last month — they could possibly have a postseason tournament with all 30 teams.

Again, they’re throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I have no problem with that. If and when they play baseball this year, it will not be in any way a normal situation, so expecting normality on-the-field is probably not realistic.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The players association said Wednesday night it was dismayed by the length of the ban.

“While we understand the concerns raised by the league with respect to a bench-clearing incident during this challenging season, we’re disappointed by the decision,” the union said. “It was an unfair result for Joe Kelly given the cases presented.”

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty that was first reported by Barstool Sports.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.