The Rundown: Barnstorming Brainstorming, Godspeed Jim Frey, Manfred Outlines Requirements For 2020 Reboot, Happy Jackie Robinson Day
If you are growing impatient with the lack of baseball news and no truly concrete plan to reboot the 2020 season, you’re not alone. It almost seems hopeless, and maybe it might be better to just believe we won’t have baseball this year. That way, if something changes, it will be a welcome and unexpected surprise.
I was thinking about the old barnstorming days of baseball, and maybe that should be the most we could hope for this year. As long as we’re throwing out radical ideas regarding ways to restart the currently suspended season, let me spitball something here and I invite you all to add suggestions in the comments section.
1952 Barnstorming Tour (from top L): Harry Simpson, Joe Black, Hank Thompson, Monte Irvin, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, & George Crowe. #MLB pic.twitter.com/guPZpwOn8R
— Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff) August 5, 2017
Why not select 30 captains, say each team’s top player or its MLBPA player rep, and have them fill their rosters like most of us do in our fantasy baseball drafts? And rather than a snake draft, or something similar, give each team captain a set budget and let them bid on all MLB-eligible players to fill their 26-man rosters.
Then play a 58-game schedule starting August 1, with each team playing the others twice. When the “regular season” ends, set up a 16-team playoff using best-of-five formats for the first two rounds and best-of-seven formats for the next two rounds. Assuming we might be able to attend as fans in some capacity by August, play the games in various MLB stadiums and donate the sales of those tickets to COVID-19 relief. Additionally, the players could donate their playoff shares to charity as well, maybe a fund for minor league players that includes a toll-free number scrolling across the bottom of televised games that allows viewers to contribute, too.
Clearly an all-star squad led by Kris Bryant playing in Wrigley Field would be fun to watch — maybe he wins the bid for Mookie Betts — but it would also boost attendance in some of the other stadiums. Imagine if Max Scherzer won the bid for Bryce Harper or if the White Sox won the bid for Fernando Tatís, Jr. and José Quintana? Of course we’d have to stipulate that the Astros are penalized with a smaller budget, because how awful would it be if they won the bid for Javier Báez or Anthony Rizzo?
Merchandise sales would probably soar for a barnstorming league, whether the teams used current major league names and uniforms, or something that strays from the norm. What would you name the two Chicago entries?
Give the players a full year of service time and, if you really want to get crazy, let the barnstorming league implement some of Rob Manfred’s desired rule changes and let fans vote on them in real time. I imagine baseball and, heck, life in general, could use a little goodwill these days, and this type of set up will require no asterisks or cheapened championships. It’s just a one-and-done season-long exhibition that benefits a whole lot of people, and one that creates even more fun.
Is the injury risk something to consider? I suppose so, but the downward spiral of injuries for Brandon Morrow during his tenure with the Cubs started when he couldn’t get his pants on, so let’s not pump the brakes too hard for that reason.
Cubs News & Notes
- Jim Frey, who managed the 1984 Cubs to their first playoff appearance in 40 years, and who four years later guided the team back to the postseason as its GM, passed away yesterday. He was 88 years old.
- Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg said he owes almost all of his success, including his election to the Hall of Fame, to Frey.
- Frey and his former coach/manager Don Zimmer were great friends and the pair meant as much to the organization during their years with the team as Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Joe Maddon have during this era of Cubs baseball.
- Wrigley Field’s concourse will be used as a COVID-19 food packing and distribution center, per a press release relayed by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Hotel Zachary will be used in a similar capacity.
- Anthony Rizzo continues to step up to the plate in his ongoing efforts to raise money during the pandemic.
- The sim-Cubs lost 7-4 to Alex Cobb and the Orioles yesterday, falling to 9-8 on the young season. Yu Darvish took the loss and Jason Heyward hit his third tater of the season. CI’s Ryan Davis has the recap.
- The Strat-O-Matic Cubs are currently baseball’s hottest virtual team and are now 12-5 with a three-game lead in the NL Central after yesterday’s 2-1 win in Baltimore. Jon Lester has been the team’s best starter so far, earning his third win of the season yesterday. The big lefty sports a 1.85 ERA and a filthy 0.99 WHIP through four starts.
Odds & Sods
Isn’t this where the New York Knights discovered Roy Hobbs?
The Moline Plow Boys were a Cubs minor league affiliate in the 1930’s. Check out these pics when the Chicago Cubs came to the Quad Cities in 1938 to play an exhibition against the Plow Boys. https://t.co/4KrFUidHQC
— onemillioncubs (@onemillioncubs) April 15, 2020
MLB News & Notes
While the league has thought of creative ideas in this difficult time, Manfred indicated that it’s all about the safety and well being of the players, employees, and fans enjoying the sport.
Who will be baseball’s best first baseman in 2025? Dibs on Cody Bellinger, but don’t sleep on Josh Bell.
Padres infielder Brian Dozier is a funny guy, though Astros fans might not appreciate his sense of humor.
A shortened draft may leave many potential prospects in uncharted territory, especially for those young men with college eligibility remaining.
On this date in 1958, baseball held its first game featuring two West Coast teams as the Dodgers and Giants squared off at Seals Stadium in San Francisco.
Rangers slugger Joey Gallo has been unstoppable in the virtual Player’s League.
Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner passed away yesterday at the age of 63.
This is fantastic news, though the results will not speed up any possibility of restarting the 2020 season. MLB was asked to participate because the league employs a number of individuals in multiple metropolitan areas.
BREAKING: Major League Baseball is participating in a massive coronavirus antibody study, with up to 10,000 tests taken nationwide over the next two days. Researchers hope the results offer a far better understanding of coronavirus' spread. News at ESPN: https://t.co/lZJX6aeDoK
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 14, 2020
They Said It
- “After watching a couple weeks of spring training games, he took me aside and asked me to change my mindset as far as driving the baseball, being aggressive on certain pitches and hitting baseballs in the gaps and hitting home runs. He thought I had that type of body and that type of ability.” – Ryne Sandberg
- “The only real decision that we have made, the only real plan that we have is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation has improved to the point that we’re comfortable, that we can play games in a manner that’s safe for our players, our employees, our fans, and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely.” – Rob Manfred
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Blitzkrieg Bop (and others) by The Ramones – How about some live Ramones to honor Joey Ramone, who passed away on this date in 2001. Not many bands can complete a 14-song set in just over 26 minutes.
Happy Jackie Robinson Day, a celebration that should not be diluted in the slightest just because no games are being played today. Following Robinson’s commitment to poverty might be the best way to honor his legacy.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42, that way they won’t tell us apart. -42
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) April 15, 2020