I hope everyone is well and continuing to practice social distancing. I am in the 6th week of self-quarantine. I ventured out to Winn Dixie last week for some groceries. I got sick that night. Nothing too serious, it passed overnight, but I won’t be going out again any time soon. One of the side benefits is that while sitting on the couch, eating meals, snacking, and watching Netflix I’ve managed to lose over ten pounds. Go figure.
My program viewing has grown to include the Office, Parks and Rec, Community, original Star Trek, and various movies. The only current show I must watch is Better Call Saul. I watch several shows with my wife – Survivor, Property Brothers, Love It or List It, and well pretty much anything on HGTV. I steer clear of her favorite “reality” shows on TLC.
I’ve tried to keep abreast of any real Covid-19 news that may affect the start or cancellation of baseball. I found Dr. Fauci’s comments in an interview interesting. However, I wouldn’t allow him to be among a group deciding on the start of baseball. As a Nationals’ fan, he already expressed his desire to watch his team defend their championship this year, and therefore brought his objectivity into question.
I have to admit that I am okay with the MLB season being cancelled. It is great to hear all these plans to start the baseball season, and I agree that many plans need to be considered and their logistics worked out, just in case. But, I don’t want to see any plan that will siphon off testing and medical supplies (etc) just to put baseball on television. I would rather see agriculture at the head of the list. In a few months, we’re likely to see the cost of bread, vegetables, fruit, and other perishables go up since current crops are rotting in the field. In fact, I’d rather see most people returning to work before the millionaires start working to line the pockets of the billionaires.
This isn’t 1942 when Roosevelt decided that playing baseball was necessary as the national past time during WWII. With the internet, there are so many other entertainment options for us as we quarantine.
One last heresy from a baseball reporter, I’m not even sure that baseball is the national past time anymore. I think football and basketball have a larger and firmer grasp on the national sports audience. (Before publishing this, I checked. I’m right. Football crushes every sport in TV ratings, TV audience, TV revenue, and average game attendance. Basket ball is higher than baseball in TV ratings, TV audience, TV revenue. Baseball is second behind football in average attendance.)
On a different note, whether or not we have major league baseball, maybe we get some relief from the minors. Not the minor leagues as we are familiar with them, but maybe something else.
It has occurred to me that every September, we have Instructs at the Complex in Clearwater. Players practice in the morning and play games in the afternoon. Four days during the week, they play against the teams from other organizations and twice they play intrasquad games. The term of this session has grown smaller recently, lasting only 3-4 weeks last year.
I don’t know the actual date when the agreement between MLB and MiLB terminates and how that would affect the Phillies’ use of their contracted minor league players. But, some of the organizations with spring training facilities in Florida could hold an Instructional League. It could even be similar to a stateside Winter League. (The current PBA expires on September 30, 2020. I don’t know if this expiration has any effect on an organization’s dealings with its minor league players. I should think not. They are all under contract at the lower levels.)
In the recent past, teams were available in Bradenton, Disney, Lakeland, Tampa, Dunedin, Clearwater (2017); Bradenton, Disney, Tampa, Dunedin, Sarasota, Clearwater (2018); Dunedin, Lakeland, Clearwater (2019).
Such a league would allow younger prospects to get the development repetitions that they missed during their cancelled regular season (assuming it is cancelled). The Phillies invited 68 players in 2017, 70 in 2018, and around 77 last year.
There are a couple of ways to do this. They could follow their previous Instructs’ model and bring in 60-70 young prospects. Maybe fewer if international travel bans don’t allow foreign players back into the country. Or, they could bring in all stateside players on minor league contracts, and run a minor league spring training type of camp.
Both could have work outs in the morning with games in the afternoon. In the spring training camp, they could divide the players into groups similar to spring training. Without the foreign players, they might only be able to field three teams, and a lot of AAA players might no longer be on contracts. But, they could schedule games against the closer organizations – Tampa, Dunedin, and Lakeland (the Phillies normal spring partners).
I don’t know if any of the above is feasible or even being considered. But, some sort of gathering might be possible by October. Games at this time of the year don’t draw fans. Maybe a dozen scouts, me, and a couple other guys.
(Okay, before I hit publish, it occurred to me that social distancing would be difficult in the locker room. If still a “thing”, then fewer players might be necessary. I’ve been in the Complex locker area. It reminded me of the locker I had in high school (HGP). They were close quartered. Very difficult to even remove an overcoat if the guys next to and across from you were doing the same thing.)
This is the Phuture Phillies Open Discussion for Phillies and other baseball topics.
March 17, 2020 – Start date for minor league spring training games March 2020 – Americas Qualifier in Arizona (2020 Olympics qualifier) March 23, 2020 – Final spring training home game v. Rays March 26, 2020 – Phillies’ opening day at Miami, active roster reduced to 26 players March/April 2020 – At-Large Qualifier in Taiwan (2020 Olympics qualifier) April 2, 2020 – Phillies’ home opener v. Milwaukee TBD, 2020 – Tentative restart of spring training TBD, 2020 – Tentative opening of 2020 MLB season TBD, 2020 – Tentative opening of MiLB season June 10-12, 2021 – Amateur draft in Omaha, NE June 15, 2020 – International amateur signing period closes July 2, 2020 – International amateur signing period opens July 10, 2020 – Deadline for drafted players to sign, except for players who have exhausted college eligibility July 14,2020 – All-Star Game at Los Angeles July 31, 2020 – Last day during the season to trade a player August 31, 2020 – Last day to be contracted to an organization and be eligible for postseason roster September 1, 2020 — Active rosters expand to 28 players