Brandon McCarthy
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Some past and current players chime in on MLB’s upcoming proposal

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As we have been discussing all week, Major League Baseball owners are expected to formally present a proposal to the MLB Players Association this week outlining how the 2020 season will look. Nothing has been presented thus far, but we have heard about many of the issues that will be covered including player pay, a universal designated hitter rule, and health and safety measures.

The issue of player pay as well as the overall health and safety measures that will be taken have been subject to a bit of controversy. The owners reportedly want to go back on the deal they agreed to with the union back in March, which reduced the players’ pay on a prorated basis.

Former MLB player and current ESPN analyst Mark Teixeira went on ESPN’s show Get Up with Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose yesterday, advocating that the players make concessions to allow the season to begin. The response to Teixeira’s comments were mixed. Some players, including former players, chimed in on Twitter yesterday.

1B/3B Kevin Youkilis wrote, “Former @MLB players are entitled to their opinions on what they think the players should or should not agree on but it’s their time to make the right decision with the @MLB_PLAYERS for what they think is the right decision.”

Pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who played with Teixeira on the Yankees in 2014, said, “Tex was quite possibly the most pro-union player I came across in my career. A few years ago this would be recognized as an ‘under duress’ message.”

Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood tweeted, “I refuse to judge someone I don’t really know off of one comment but damn this statement is just so stupid lol”

Outfielder Adam Jones, currently signed with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, said more generally, “It’s time for the BIG GUYS in MLB to speak up. This is your time to speak. Stop holding your tongue. Ppl follow and listen to you. Not gonna name names cause there’s a lot of ppl. Who cares what you make. You earned it. Who cares about backlash!! TIME TO SPEAK THE F UP!”

Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer posted a video on YouTube today in which he speaks with his agent Rachel Luba:

We also heard extensively from Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle on Monday. It’s a smattering of players, but hopefully more players use their platforms to speak their minds on these issues. If there is one difference between the current labor issues and those in the past, it’s that ownership can’t as easily dictate the narratives. Players don’t necessarily need a sympathetic media member to get their side out; they can simply make a post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to speak to their fans directly.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”