Spring training nears an end… real baseball starts this weekend.
Meantime… the crew discusses it all…
Ok, ok… we discuss five things about the game and the folks involved with the game in one way or another… right here and now…
1) MLB chief legal counsel Dan Halem recently told “Outside the Lines” that “Players, or anybody in baseball, (who are) found to have violated a law are subject to discipline from the commissioner. Smokeless tobacco laws are no different.” Halem added that under Article XII of the Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the commissioner would have “just cause” to discipline players for “conduct that is prejudicial or detrimental to Baseball” if they break the new tobacco laws that are being enacted by many cities that have MLB franchises.
An anonymous official of MLBPA official told “Outside the Lines” that, “MLB would have a fight on their hands if they attempt to discipline players under the ‘Just Cause’ provision.”
FYI: The union did not accept a league-wide smokeless tobacco ban that owners sought in collective bargaining in 2011 and the MLBPA is expected to again oppose a ban in this year’s negotiations for a new CBA.
Regardless of your opinion on tobacco use of any kind, is this a case of MLB overreaching with their authority?
Dan: Yes, I believe that the MLB is over-reaching with their authority.
This is chewing tobacco, it isn’t a big deal. To levy a fine or a suspension over this just doesn’t make much sense to me. I believe that the MLB is just trying to do too much with regards to trying to control players and their conduct. I’m not okay with that. Leave these players alone. They aren’t violating drug conduct, they aren’t violating major laws, etc. Leave them alone.
Joe: While, I understand the question doesn’t require an answer with my opinion on tobacco use, I’m going to provide it any way… I think everyone should quit the use of tobacco in any form HOWEVER I draw the line at the government, or any organization, including MLB, flat out declaring all tobacco use and its forms should be forbidden.
I understand that tobacco that is smoked and that second hand smoke is dangerous, however, I fail to see how smokeless tobacco could be injurious to anyone except the user. And if someone wishes to use that form of tobacco then so be it… it’s their life… possibly quite literally.
In short… MLB is overstepping its bounds in my opinion.
MLB tries to over assert their authority all the time. I personally would like to see a permanent ban on tobacco products from the game. You see far too many players dying at an early age due to mouth cancer, largely in part of using smokeless tobacco. The Union will never pass it, so I don’t see this even being an issue moving forward, other than the player should use better judgment.
2) Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com MLB Staff Writer makes a case for the Cleveland Indians having the best starting rotation in MLB… who is your choice for the best rotation in MLB?
From top-to-bottom they have a solid five with all of them in the top-15 in strikeout percentage in baseball. They can shut down anybody and are just overall a great rotation. You can’t go wrong with any of these pitchers and I can’t see, from the top of my head, who could beat them out. Besides the Brewers of course.
Joe: I been hearing a lot of good things about the Indians’ rotation but for my money I’ll take the Mets’ rotation as the best in MLB…
At the top of their rotation they can throw right-handers Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard at a team. All have above average fastballs and very good secondary pitches. Each of these pitchers are projected to pitch… barring any injuries… close to, if not more than, 200 innings and all have strikeout to walk ratios that were better than 5 to 1 in 2015. Also, in 2015 deGrom lead the trio with a WHIP that was 0.979 and was closely followed by Harvey (1.019) and Syndergaard (1.047).
Most people say DeGrom and Harvey are the one two punch of the Mets starters but the more I see Syndergaard pitch, the more I think he will be the guy people will be talking about by the time the 2106 season is nearing its end. I really like his heater and his curve is excellent. Plus, he has a bulldog attitude that can’t be taught and frankly that many of the great pitchers tend to have.
Plus, the crafty veteran Bartolo Colon who somehow just keeps rolling along like the old man river that he is… gives you 200 innings and keeps you in most games. He’ll keep a spot warm until Zach Wheeler finally comes back from TJ surgery. If, Wheeler performs anywhere near his rep, he will be a tremendous addition to the Mets in midseason or maybe earlier. Wheeler has a plus fastball and some say he is maybe better than Harvey.
Steve: The Indians do have a great starting five, and they are definitely one of the best in baseball. The wild-card is going to be how well Kluber pitches. He struggled to start the season last year only to rebound and end the season well.
But, I think the Mets currently hold the best starting rotation in baseball with Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard topping the rotation. This core is going to be tough to beat if the Mets offense can stay true to form and they make the post season.
3 Not that long ago ticket prices for a spring training game were about $10 or $20… now in some spring training ball parks standing room only, or admission to those grassy areas beyond the outfield fences in many parks, the prices are $40 and $50. In addition prices for food and drink have also risen dramatically.
In this a case of many MLB franchises “Killing the goose that laid the golden eggs?”
Dan: Honestly, I don’t think the rising prices are anything other than rising costs of everyday expenses. Not only are these stadiums expensive, they have to pay for them. They have to get these clubhouses looking like how they do. Look at how many stadiums there are for all MLB teams to participate and play in. Spring Training is only a month and these are top of the art stadiums in respects to what spring training use to be. The Brewers played a team (either Rockies or Angels, I can’t remember exactly) and their clubhouse was nicer than the clubhouse at Miller Park.
The other reason is contracts. Teams are starting to shell out more and more money and are expecting to bring back more and more money in profit. They’ll take it any way they can. So, spring training ticket prices are going up and up and up. You can still find regular season tickets for cheap as well as spring training tickets for $10-$20, you just have to be in the right market with the right team.
Joe: Maybe I don’t know zip about why these spring training games are suddenly so damn expensive but there has got to be away to keep the costs down so families can experience the atmosphere of a small stadium where fans can get up close and usually see and meet their favorite players that can’t be had in the regular season.
Personally, I feel it’s the owners just trying to squeeze all that they can from the fan’s pockets.
Steve: Ticket prices are out of this world, and are really not affordable for many fans. We are looking to go to a game this season at Wrigley Field, and we got a “Special” price of 27 dollars a ticket, not to mention the 30 plus we will spend on parking, and 50-plus on food and maybe a small souvenir.
As long as people will pay the prices, they will continue to grow.
4) Is the battle for The AL West destined to be a shootout between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers… or do you see some other scenario being the reality?
Dan: I think that this will be a battle all year long between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. For most of the season, the Angels will make a push towards the top of the AL West but I don’t think they’ll be able to come down to the wire with Houston & Texas, those two teams are just too good in my opinion and the LA Angels aren’t capable of maintaining that top of the division pace all year long.
The only question I really have is: can they work with Mike Fiers to keep him in the rotation? Right now, he’s fighting for a spot after throwing a no-hitter last year and being a nice addition to their rotation. Houston is a young team, but I think that they have enough talent where they’ll be able to squeak a division title.
My prediction for the AL West finish is: Texas, Houston, LA, Oakland, Seattle.
Maybe Seattle might come on strong in 2016 but I just don’t see it. The Angels and the Athletics aren’t impressing me so far from what I’ve seen. So, unless Seattle has some players step up big time in 2016… the AL West should be an an all Texas affair.
Steve: That is my one-two finish. I like the Rangers to edge out the Astros in the West but it will be neck and neck throughout the entire season.
I would not be surprised if Seattle can make some kind of run at a wild card berth, as long as Cano can return to his top game. They are young and talented, and could surprise some teams this season.
I don’t see the Angels or A’s doing much of anything.
5) Can Manager Don Mattingly and Hitting Coach Barry Bonds and Company change the Marlins from being one of the worst teams with one of the worst hitting lineups in The NL to being a legitimate contender in 2016?
Dan: I think Barry Bonds has enough skill set in order to get these players to learn the strike zone and start hitting. He was one of the best hitters the game has ever seen and I know he knows how to teach as well as him being extremely knowledgeable with regards to hitting the ball.
Do I think the Marlins are going to compete for a divisional title or a Wild Card spot this season? No. But, do I think they’ll show drastic improvements offensive wise? Yes. Watch the Marlins be a threat to pitchers all season long.
Joe: Mattingly and Bonds both know just a tad about hitting. So, I think Miami’s offense will improve. And if players like Stanton can maintain their health for a full season… that’ll help, too.
Their starters are decent… but overall… I just don’t see them being able to overcome my favorite pick to take the NL East… the Mets. And, even if they can improve enough to surprise folks to finish second in the NL East, I still don’t think they will be good enough to take a wild card.
Maybe next year.
Steve: If, Giancarlo Stanton stays healthy all year, then the Marlins will be able to compete. You have two of the games top teachers teaching you to hit.
As for the Marlins being contenders? I don’t see it happening. The Mets and Nationals are going to be very good, along with the Cubs, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks. I don’t see the Marlins anywhere near the playoffs, but their offense should be much improved.
Sunday, April 3rd… 1:05pm ET: St. Louis Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Pirates
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