This week the crew wrestles with that eternal sports question… what’s more important just getting the big contract… the money… or is it winning the bling… a championship?
And games in London? Whaaa…
See the crew’s opinions right now in the MLB round table discussion…
1) A report on CBS.com says that MLB eyes regular season games in London by 2017.
What’s your opinion on this possibility?
Dan: Honestly, with how the MLB schedule is set up, the only way they would be able to fit a team to play in London and adequately accommodate their bodies with traveling, etc… would be to have these games at the very beginning of the season with a couple days off afterwards, or, they would need to have it entering the All-Star break.
I’m all for expanding the product over seas to various markets, but, mid-season won’t work. How they did the games in Asia (I believe Japan?) a couple years back would be perfect. Before opening day, give them a couple days rest to accommodate and they’re okay.
Allow me to tell a story. I have family living in England. When I was 8 years old, I went to visit them. My older cousin had a cricket bat in the garage. I picked up that bat, and swung it like a baseball bat. He looked at me like I was mad. He sort of knew what baseball was, but, he thought I was a mad little Yankee in that moment.
Yes, that was way back in 1990, but, I doubt little has changed in the English attitude since. They have cricket, and, I doubt MLB playing in London would be a big thing outside of the community of expats living in the UK.
I think the NFL playing games overseas is asinine and I think if MLB follows suit then they will join the NFL in being asses.
Steve: I love the idea for MLB baseball wanting to expand their fan base overseas. However, its just not a good idea. The Baseball season is way too long to expect the players to have to travel 14 plus hours on a plane to play a series in London, and, then have to fly 14 hours back, in different time zones, only to likely start up a new series somewhere. I don’t think it is fair to the players. They are already exhausted from the travel within the United States and sometimes Canada.
Broadcast the MLB Network over there, expand the market, but, it just does not make sense for MLB to play games there. You can do it in Football because you can schedule a game and maybe the team playing doesn’t have another game anywhere from 7 to 14 days. They can get enough rest. I’m not comparing the sports, but, 162 games is a long season. These guys should not have to be forced to travel that far to play a baseball game.
2) The Mets finally signed Yoenis Cespedes…
Now, the question is: Heading into the 2016 season, which team do you think is better… the Mets or the Cubs? And, regardless who you think is better, which team has the best chance to make the World Series?
Dan: I believe the Cubs are the better team. They have a better manager, Joe Maddon makes a huge difference being there for Chicago; a slightly worse starting rotation and the Cubs offense is just better. They signed Heyward & Zobrist who are both pretty good players. Heyward is a defender which is great and Zobrist had a huge post-season and makes the offense (with some added defense) a big improvement.
I also think the Cubs are more likely to make it to the World Series over the Mets granted that both teams are fully healthy. I thought Chicago was better than New York last season, but, they just couldn’t complete their bid for a World Series entrance.
Earl: Despite the Mets finally signing Cespdes and having a formidable starting rotation, I still think the Cubs are better on paper. Adding Heyward and Zobrist is big for their lineup and their pitching is as good.
With that said, in a playoff series, the Mets throwing their aces at the Cubs would give them the advantage to get back to the Series.
Joe: I am big on defense being the way to build team no matter what sport you might be trying to build into a contender.
And… having said that, I give the Mets a slight edge over the Cubs because of their deeper starting rotation. And its not like they didn’t do anything to make their lineup 1 through 8 any better in the offseason… Yeonis Cesepedes, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabreara ain’t exactly chopped liver. Cespedes is what he is… a streaky hitter who when he is hot can carry a team. Walker and Cabrera will give the Mets more versatility and infield depth as well as help lengthen their lineup.
Plus… I think they have a better shot at making the World Series than the Cubs.
Steve: I think the Cubs have a slightly better overall team than the Mets.
The Cubs have a solid rotation, an extremely feared lineup for any pitcher, I don’t care who you are. And, they also have a decent bullpen. If, the Cubs can land one more quality arm either via free agency or trade (for example a James Shields?) then their rotation is arguably as strong as any other rotation. The Cubs are easily the team to beat in baseball in 2016.
The Mets are right behind them, but, never count out those boys out West, the San Francisco Giants. They may have something to say about being the best in 2016 as they made some key moves themselves.
3) Speaking of Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets…
Are you surprised he signed with the Mets, particularly, since he took less years and money than he was offered elsewhere?
Dan: Honestly, yes.
I would expect players to take the money over anything else but I do understand why he did what he did. The Mets have a chance at winning the World Series after losing quickly to Kansas City in 2015. He wants that chance at a World Series title and he’ll get it as a member of the Mets.
Earl: I’m a New Yorker and if you have any spent any time here, it is arguably the greatest City in the World. People like being here, especially a sports star. So, I’m not surprised that Cespedes didn’t want to leave New York City to go play in some lesser City like Detroit, or Baltimore. No disrespect to those markets, but c’mon now!
So, to get paid a good deal of money and play here? Advantage Cespedes.
Joe: Yeah, I am sorta… but the NY sports press… I read the NY Daily News sports pages every day, religiously… kept on dropping hints that their were some back room negotiations ongoing with the Mets’ front office and Cespedes’ agents, so, I wasn’t shocked when the announcement came that the Mets and Cespedes had come to an agreement, but, still… I was surprised they actually pulled it off.
I guess Cespedes wasn’t BSing when he said he liked playing in NY, considering he took less years and less money to be withe Mets.
He stated at the end of last season that he wanted to stay with the Mets. He said that he found a home in New York. And, the Mets are an up and coming team who have the rotation to compete for a championship for the next several years. Cespedes knows this, and, probably took less money to stay where he felt comfortable and have the chance to win.
4) Interestingly, Cespedes wasn’t the only player who took a lesser contract to play with a team… Reportedly, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist also took less money/years to sign with the Cubs. It’s true that the money each player received for his services wasn’t exactly chump change, still, it was not the maximum they could have gotten elsewhere.
In your opinion, is this an indication that players might be leaning more toward maximizing what they think is a chance to win a championship/ring rather than getting the most money that they can?
Players, I think, are starting to realize that they would rather win a championship and take less money/years, than have a huge contract and not reach the playoffs. What’s a couple million dollars or an extra year or two when you can trade that in for a World Series ring?
Earl: Chicago is another great city. Taking less money and playing for a team on the rise and play in a good cosmopolitan environment is a smart decision. As far as I’m concerned Heyward and Zobrist made smart decisions.
Not all players will make that though. For some it’s all about who offers the most or there are some players who don’t like big city environments, but, to get both, like they have, is to me, the best move possible.
Joe: I once read about this athelete who took less money to play… or stay… with a team than take a higher offer to go elsewhere. When, he was asked why, he said, “How much money do I need?” I forget who it was but I remember reading it and it made an impression on me that an athelete today could realise that there are more important things than just “Show me the money!”
So, yeah, I do think that at times there are atheletes that will weigh all the factors and maybe will ultimately say… “Ya know what… I think that team has a better chance to win… maybe… I just feel more comfortable there… and, hell, the money is a fair offer anyways.”
Steve: I look at it this way. Many top quality players such as a Heyward, and Zobrist want to be a part of something special. The Cubs are on the brink potentially of bringing a World Championship banner to Wrigley Field, so, that has to play a huge role in this. Zobrist, is a hometown guy who grew up about two hours away from Chicago, so, I bet that played a big factor being close to home with his parents close by and just having a new born baby… having family close to you is a big deal.
As for Heyward, like I said he wanted to be a part of something special in Chicago, but, also the Cardinals basically said that Heyward was not worth $200 million. Which I agree with that, but, I also fell maybe it insulted him and now he has the chance to show the Cardinals what he is worth with their arch rivals.
5) Various news/sports venues have been making a point that at this point of the off-season, there is only one team in baseball that has yet to sign a free agent to a major-league contract and that team is the New York Yankees.
Is this “fact” that big of a deal as it seems the media is making it?
Dan: I’m surprised because it’s the Yankees and they usually are always players in the free agency market. But, still, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. They did trade for Aroldis Chapman to solidify the back end of the bullpen to be almost lock-down. That’s good enough.
But, I am surprised they haven’t made any moves because the team wasn’t perfect last season and they’re not perfect heading into this season. With Greg Bird going down for the year, I do expect them to make a signing regardless of rumors being that they won’t. They don’t have a back-up first baseman behind Mark Teixeira. If, he’s injured or has a scheduled off-day, they have Brian McCann who can fill in at emergencies and Dustin Ackley filling in, too. But, there’s Casey McGehee and Pedro Alvarez that they certainly can pick up, but, Cashman says they have no plans.
We’ll see, though. I think they should.
The Yankees have a well earned reputation for being big spenders, and, the fact that they haven’t, is surprising and grounds for the media to make an issue of it.
However, I think Cashman should be lauded for not opening the checkbook and using trades to improve the team.
Joe: Yeah, I guess it’s sort of a surprise that the Yankees have not signed free agent to a contract BUT consider… (1) Hal Steinbrenner is much more money conscious than his dad was; (2) although there is no salary cap in baseball the Yankees have been paying a luxury tax to MLB what seems like forever and I think they finally drew a line and said it needs to stop; (3) don’t forget in the next two years the Yanks will lose a bunch of guys whose big money contracts will end and have a ton of money freed up to spend; (4) they publicly have been saying they just don’t want to expend a lot of money on long term contracts any more for players over a certain age (and that makes a lot of sense to me); (5) maybe they just felt that either no free agent was worth the asking price or fit into their present lineup, and, lastly (5) if, you can improve your team through trades without upsetting the roster all that much and not add a lot to payroll then why not do that instead of going the free agent route, paying out tons of money and losing a draft pick?
So, yes, I do feel the media is making this “fact” a bigger deal than it really is.
Steve: At this point nothing surprises me when it comes to a team like the Yankees. Once you sit there and count them out of things, they go out and make some sort of blockbuster deal that has the entire baseball world screaming foul and hating the New York Yankees again.
I think this team is in rebuild mode (at least for the Yankees standpoint) this means they are still going to be in contention. They are probably a playoff team right now anyway if they don’t make anymore moves. However, if memory serves me right, they just landed Aroldis Chapman, and, he is a big ticket closer. This gives the Yankees probably the best bullpen in baseball with Chapman, Betances, and Miller that you can pretty much take your pick at closing out a game. So, not only is this not a big deal, it is false.
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