Field Of Dreams Game: Determining Other Fantasy Locations

If you build it, Kevin Costner will come to the Field of Dreams game.

I’m covered in goosebumps watching right now. The Field of Dreams game between the Yankees and White Sox was tremendous. Between the entrance, the old uniforms, and the atmosphere, the game blew my expectations out of the water. Walking to the field from the outfield didn’t feel corny. (I couldn’t help myself.) The walk was special and made this regular season game feel like a championship.

Did I mention how cool it was to watch a home run land IN A CORNFIELD?

Every single camera view of the stadium and skyline was picturesque. How could you not want to watch a baseball game here every single day for the rest of your life?

Then, the game ended in complete madness.

Was this the best game ever? Might have been! Now, with a hockey game at Lake Tahoe and a (perfect) baseball game at the Field of Dreams site, where to next? Let’s take a look at some dream venues.*

*Assume logistics won’t be an issue. Pretend this is a perfect world, and a professional sporting event could take place at the venue.

Rucker Park

This is the clear number one answer. I’m not kidding when I say this game would shut down the city. To some, basketball at Rucker Park is more important than basketball at Madison Square Garden. Rucker Park is where legends are made. Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston, Nate Archibald, and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe all became playground legends before playing in the NBA. NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have dropped by the streetball Mecca to put on a show. If the Knicks were to beat the Nets at Rucker Park, the city would party like the Knicks won the title (sigh).

Lake Placid

Name five more important words in sports than “Do you believe in miracles?” The U.S. didn’t just defeat the Soviets in a hockey game that day. Democracy defeated communism. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Now, the Olympics probably won’t return to Lake Placid. However, an NHL hockey game would be a great alternative. For this game, Al Michaels has to be the play-by-play announcer. I don’t know Al personally, but I’m sure he would oblige especially if the network let him discuss his gambling plays of the day.

Venice Beach

Come on, Billy! As a New York guy, I can’t speak to the mystique of the Venice Beach courts. However, I have watched a few games there on my rare trips to California and it’s super competitive. Most of my knowledge of Venice Beach basketball comes from White Men Can’t Jump. If the Lakers and Clippers played at Venice Beach, then they must wear the uniforms that resemble the clothes worn by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

White Men Can’t Jump

I would love to come up with a venue for football. The first thing that comes to mind is in the middle of a NASCAR track like the Battle at Bristol.

UFC event on the White House North Lawn? You never know!

What is your dream venue for a sporting event? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Pro Sports Postponement: Empathy, Not Divisiveness, Is Key With Fans and Players

Giannis Pro Sports postponement protests

This week, the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS all postponed games in wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting occurred on Sunday, August 23.

Unfortunately, the issue of police brutality has become so divisive in United States society. Many players have come to the forefront for causes they believe in, such as police reform and voting rights mainly.

Athletes Need Fan Support When Deciding to Boycott Pro Sports

Professional athletes are taking a stand. These athletes will not stand for police brutality and voter suppression, but are being met with push back by some fans. There are people that believe that players should shut up and play. Fans may feel this way because they could not decide to not go to work, for example, and be able to take a stand in a way similar to what professional athletes have done.

However, it is close-minded to think that players do not have a distinct purpose and reason for their actions. Yes, they are in a position where they can afford to protest by not “working” in a sense. But for change to occur in society, there needs to be prominent figures at the forefront. The players made the right decision to postpone games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because now there is more attention on issues that US citizens should care about. Whether or not one agrees with some of the positions that players have on these issues, players need fan support in the same way they need fan support on game night.

Decision to Postpone or Play Games Should Be Players’ Decision

There have been many people who have called for pro sports teams for the postponement of their games, while some have decided to play their games. If fans want to truly support their players, they will realize that each player views the situation differently. Some players believe that they can show solidarity by not playing. Others feel like playing gives them a platform to be vocal about these issues. Players have been both praised and criticized for the position they have taken.

In the end, the decision to play or not play should be up to the players. Fans can choose whether to support the players’ decision or not. There are charity events and initiatives that players give their time to for the fans. It is time that fans support players in whatever decision they make about playing, whether or not they agree with it.

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Leagues Had Different Ways of Handling Postponement of Pro Sports

The NHL players played on Wednesday. On Thursday, they made a united decision to postpone games Thursday and Friday. There was backlash from certain people over the decision to play Wednesday. Some, including Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, were so focused on playoff hockey. There simply was not enough time for some people within the NHL’s two hub cities to fully grasp the situation.

NBA players were already thinking about their actions days earlier. That is the main reason they were able to come to their decision quicker. They thought about the potential ramifications of their decision and decided to resume play on Saturday. NBA players have been the most vocal about the issue of police brutality. They are the reason that August 26, 2020, will always be remembered.

However, the way both leagues handled the situation was acceptable. Even though the NHL was late to the party, they are playing their games in another country. It was better for the NHL to fully digest the situation from an outsider’s view and make an informed decision.

Divisiveness a Main Narrative Being Written About the USA Right Now

Some fans do not want to watch sports anymore because they feel that through protesting that politics are being brought into sports. Fans may not agree with the avenue in which players are protesting or the causes they are protesting for. This is okay. But right now, the players need to know they have fan support.

There are numerous narratives being written about what is going on in the United States of America right now. However, when some say blanket statements that single other people out in a negative light, they should not expect a positive reaction from their opponents.

A frustrating aspect of these protests is the partisanship that could be associated with them. For example, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma tweeted Wednesday night about how momentum would need to continue “even if we get a Democrat in the office.” Someone who supports the decision by the NBA players to protest, but does not necessarily identify as a Democrat, could be put off by this statement. However, the divisive political rhetoric of 2020 is the reason that Kuzma feels this way.

There is rhetoric from people that identify as both Republican and Democrat that is extremely frustrating to see. Kuzma tweeted about his belief that there was fear-mongering from Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was speaking at the Republican National Convention. When the term “lawlessness” is being thrown around by people like Kimberly Guilfoyle when describing protests in communities where people like Jacob Blake lived, of course there is going to be outrage.

Issues are Divisive, and People Not Acknowledging Different Viewpoints Could Be Damaging

Kimberly Guilfoyle fails to acknowledge that the majority of people in the streets are peacefully protesting. The protesters want to see a positive change in society. They also realize how real the problem of systemic racism is in the United States of America. People like Guilfoyle come under fire from so many people is because they have not made a simple acknowledgment to Black people that their lives matter. Guilfoyle and many others spoke at the Republican National Convention. They failed to show any solidarity towards the Jacob Blake shooting or the issues that players care about.

Everyone’s vote matters. Every US citizen should have the right to vote. If people want to go to the voting booth, it should be an easy process. Governments have to aid in this effort, and it seems like this is where part of the player’s protest is coming from.

However, Kuzma’s comment might make one question what the push to get people to vote is really about. Someone could interpret it as certain players having an agenda to help a single party out. People can truly educate themselves about all of the candidates, and realize there are more candidates to choose from than the ones with the D and R next to their name. However, it still has to be the person’s option on who they want to vote for, or even if they want to vote. They are given the right to vote, but voting is not required by law.

Postponement of Pro Sports Being Used to Encourage People to Vote and Empathize With the Black Community

We cannot afford to live in a society that preaches fear. When people go to vote, they need to feel assured that their vote is fair. At this point, it has been assured that citizens do not feel confident in their ability to vote. There are flaws in the voting system, and certain groups are marginalized.

The postponement of pro sports games was sparked by a police officer deciding to shoot a black man seven times in the back. This type of behavior by police officers simply cannot be tolerated, and athletes from all sports have spoken. Try to put yourself in this situation. Should someone have to be shot seven times in the back because they may be holding a knife? Jacob Blake did admit to holding a knife, but does he deserve to be handcuffed to a hospital bed? The answer is no.

The reason these protests are happening is that people are not getting equal treatment. Justice is not happening for all right now. It is important that we listen and validate everyone’s concerns with police relations with all communities, especially the African American community. It is important that all of us – athletes, fans, government officials – show the African American community that their lives matter.

Sports Law Issues Don’t Stop During Coronavirus Shutdown

Coronavirus sports lawsuit LeBron James Jimmy Butler Lamar Jackson

The effects of the Coronavirus is being felt in every industry. The sports industry is no different, but that has not stopped lawsuits involving LeBon James, Jimmy Butler, and Lamar Jackson. Roughly two weeks ago the NBA suspended their season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the Coronavirus. Soon after, his teammate Donavan Mitchell tested positive. Both players have recently been cleared of the Coronavirus. However, the continued reality of the threat of the Coronavirus led the MBL, NHL, and MLS to suspend their seasons as well. The NCAA was forced to cancel all spring sports and the March Madness tournament. Most recently, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the 2020 Summer Games to 2021.

Accordingly, sports fans are relying on the rebroadcasts of classic games for entertainment. Even though the entertainment portion of the sports has come to an unexpected halt, the business of sports keeps turning. This is especially true in the realm of sports law. In the last week, three lawsuits involving some of sports favorite athletes came to light. Two cases involve two of the NBA’s most notable players, LeBron James and Jimmy Butler. The third case involves the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player of the Year, Lamar Jackson.

Hold on King James…That Photo Does not Belong to You

During LeBron James’ 17-year career, he has been the focal point of some pretty iconic NBA photos. There are photos of James blocking Andre Iguodala’s shot in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. There is the iconic photo of Dwayne Wade and King James on the Miami Heat when James lays down a monster slam dunk. Before the NBA season was abruptly halted by the Coronavirus, King James was caught in yet another timeless photo. On December 19, 2019 photographer, Steven Mitchell was working the Lakers versus Heat game. Mitchell caught an awesome moment of King James dunking over Meyers Leonard.

Soon after the game, the photo was cropped and posted to James’s Facebook account. The post, which is still up has received over one thousand likes, has been shared 92 times, and has 61 comments. The picture was also posted on James’ Instagram Account. There it received over 2 million likes. To many, this may not seem like a big deal. What could be wrong with James posting a picture of himself? The answer is that it could be a copyright law violation. Accordingly, the photographer, Steven Mitchell, sued LeBron James alleging that posting the photo onto James’ social media platforms infringed on his copyright law protections.

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Does James’ Post Violate Mitchell’s Rights in the Photo Under Copyright Law?

Copyright is an intellectual property right grounded in the United States Constitution. Authors are granted copyright protection for their original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protection applies to photos. As such, Mitchell sued LeBron James, Uninterrupted Digital Ventures, and LRMR Ventures for copyright infringement. Mithcell alleges that James and the other defendants infringed on his copyright in the photo when it was cropped and posted on James’s Facebook and Instagram pages without Mitchell’s consent. The complaint asserts that Uninterrupted Digital Ventures and LRMR Ventures operate James’ Facebook page. Mitchell requests a jury trial to determine whether the federal Copyright Act was violated. He also seeks damages up to $150,000 per infringement.

Independent Sports and Entertainment Says Jimmy Butler Needs to Pay Up

Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE) is telling Miami Heat star, Jimmy Butler, to “show them the money.” ISE has sued Jimmy Butler for breaching a Public Relations Agreement (PR Agreement) he entered into with them in July of 2013. ISE is an integrated sport, media, entertainment, and management company that represents talent throughout the entertainment industry. ISE assists professional athletes’ with their off the field and off the court activities. In the complaint, ISE alleges that Jimmy Butler breached their PR Agreement by failing to give them their share of profits from two deals Butler made with Nike.

Per the PR Agreement, Butler is required to pay ISE a 15% gross compensation fee in exchange for ISE’s services assisting with his personal marketing and public relations. ISE alleges that while Butler was under the PR Agreement, he entered into a contract with Nike where he earned $616,666,67. ISE has not received its 15 percent commission in the amount of $92,250. Butler later entered into an addendum on the contract. On the addendum, Butler received at least 5 million dollars. ISE has not received its 15% commission in the amount of $750,000 on the addendum.

In the complaint, ISE stipulates that the non-breaching party must provide notice of the breach to the breaching party and allow the breaching party 30 days to cure the breach. ISE alleges that they provided written notice to Butler and made attempts to collect the amounts due. Furthermore, ISE alleges that they were put in contact with Butler’s financial advisor Ken Kavanaugh who acknowledged that Butler owed the 15% fee and that payment would follow. The payment never came leading ISE to file this suit. Per the complaint, ISE is seeking damages for the amounts owed on the Nike contract and addendum.

Lamar Jackson Tells Amazon to Stop Selling his Unauthorized Merchandise 

Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, filed suit against Amazon.com and Amazon.com Services, Inc. (hereafter collectively referred to as Amazon) in a federal district court for infringing on his right to publicity. In the complaint, Jackson alleges that Amazon has directly advertised and sold items bearing Jackson’s name, nicknames, and images without being authorized to do so by him or the NFL. The alleged infringing items include items such as a “LAMARVELOUS Vintage Baltimore Football QB Jackson MVP T-Shirt.” In the complaint, Jackson acknowledges that Amazon had received negative publicity for facilitating the sale of items that infringe on others’ intellectual property rights by third parties in the Amazon Marketplace. However, Jackson contends that the sale of his items is different in that the sale of his items are not in the Amazon marketplace.

Jackson contends that the infringing items at issue are directly falsely promoted and advertised by Amazon as they are designated as “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” Jackson claims to have requested that Amazon remove and stop selling the items in question. However, Amazon has failed to so. As such, Jackson seeks a permanent injunction requiring Amazon to stop the sale of the items in question. Jackson alleges that the unauthorized sale of items bearing his name, image, and likeness on Amazon has negatively affected his own clothing line business. Accordingly, Jackson also seeks damages and disgorgement of Amazon’s profits.

MLB, NBA, and NHL: What to Expect From The Return to Sports

Mike Trout contract LeBron james NBA NFL highest paid

Sports have returned, as the return of MLB baseball to television screens occurred last week. The NBA and NHL seasons will resume this week, as the NBA starts their seeding games on Thursday. The NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers start this Saturday. There is plenty to look for as sports are returning on television screens across the United States.

Fans are interested to see how the gameday dynamic differs between each of the three sports. Players will have to adjust to playing with no fans and new possible distractions during play. In the NBA, there will be giant video screens behind the basket that could impact the game. It will also be interesting to see how people react to the fake crowd noise in these arenas.

What to Look for In MLB Return: Strategy Changes Amid Rule Changes

The MLB has returned, and there have been a few instances of the minor league rule of having a runner on second base to start extra innings. In the Angels-Athletics game this past Friday, Angels manager Joe Maddon decided to go with a five-person infield once the A’s loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th inning. It did not matter, as A’s first baseman Matt Olson hit a walk-off grand slam to end the game, but it gave a lens into how managers may try to approach extra innings. The A’s won the game, 7-3.

Another rule change that the MLB implemented even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit was that relief pitchers either had to face three batters. This rule change means that managers cannot use pitchers for individual matchups as readily as they would like. It will be interesting to see if relief pitchers do better or worse because of this rule. Managers will also have to manage their bullpen vastly different now.

One interesting tidbit of information from opening weekend is that no team was swept. Every team has already won a game. The gameplay proved to be competitive. Because of the shortened season, look for less sweeps to happen throughout as teams may have more of a focus on each individual game rather than the whole series.

What to Look for In NBA Return: How Teams Mesh Based on Roster Changes

In the NBA, there are certain teams whose rosters will look vastly different. The Brooklyn Nets will not have either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant due to injury. They have also had four additional players opt out of the restart. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Andre Roberson made his first appearance in two years.

One of the interesting teams to watch in Orlando will be the Denver Nuggets. Before the pandemic, Nuggets fans were clamoring for Michael Porter Jr. to get more playing time. Now they will campaign to see Bol Bol get more playing time after his great performances in the Nuggets’ scrimmages together. It would be hard for any team to be able to defend a frontcourt with athletes of the caliber of Bol and Nikola Jokic. The Clippers and Lakers are the two favorites out west, but the Nuggets may force their way onto the national radar more if they can get production out of Bol Bol.

What to Look for In NHL Return: How Much Parity Will Be on Display in Stanley Cup Playoff Qualifiers

In the NHL, the 5-12 seeds will be playing five-game series to qualify for the 16-team traditional Stanley Cup Playoff bracket. These series have the potential to be closer to five games because of the long layoff. Still, expect teams with great individual talent on the offensive end to start off fast in this tournament. Some people believe that the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have chances in their series because of their goaltenders. However, the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, New York, and Montreal’s respective opponents, have better rosters. I think most of the higher-seeded teams will end up winning these qualifying series.

Also, it will be interesting to see how much the round-robin play for the top four seeds in each conference affects how they will play the rest of the way. One of these teams could technically lose all three of their round-robin games and still win the Stanley Cup. It will be interesting to see which of the top teams is able to peak in these early games, and if that will lead to further success in the playoffs.

Grab your popcorn, chips, or whatever you eat when you watch sports, because there is going to be a lot to watch on your TV screens for the next few weeks.

2020 MLB Season Prediction: Yankees Over Cardinals In World Series

MLB Aaron Judge Yankees

The 2020 MLB season starts this Thursday. Although there will not be fans at the games, they will be happy to see the return of America’s Pastime to their television screens. Using the website playoffpredictors.com, I predicted what each team’s record will be at the end of the 2020 MLB season.

A 60-game season is not traditional for the MLB. The 162-game marathon has been turned into a sprint. This could benefit teams that may not be looked at as favorites, as one seven or 10-game winning streak could vault a team into playoff contention at the end of the season.

My prediction ended with familiar teams in playoff spots. I think this happened because these teams have proved that they can rise to the occasion.

2020 MLB Regular Season Standings Prediction

AL East

(1) Yankees 38-22

(5) Rays 35-25

Red Sox 32-28

Blue Jays 24-36

Orioles 16-44

AL Central

(2) Twins 37-24

(4) Indians 36-25

White Sox 29-31

Royals 22-38

Tigers 19-41

AL West

(3) Astros 36-24

Athletics 34-26

Angels 32-28

Rangers 25-35

Mariners 24-36

NL East

(3) Nationals 37-23

(4) Braves 35-25

Phillies 34-26

Mets 31-29

Marlins 17-43

NL Central

(2) Cardinals 40-20

(5) Cubs 35-25

Reds 33-27

Brewers 28-32

Pirates 22-38

NL West

(1) Dodgers 41-19

D-Backs 29-31

Giants 28-32

Rockies 27-33

Padres 24-36

2020 MLB Season Prediction Lands Eight of 10 2019 Playoff Teams In Field

In my prediction, four of the five teams in both the AL and NL were the same as 2019. think there will be a lack of new teams in the playoffs because teams simply have not had that much time together. The more battle-tested teams will be playoff-bound, as they have the experience playing in more high-stress situations. In a 60-game season, every game will have more intensity to it, as there is much less room for error.

St. Louis Cardinals Will Make the World Series

My prediction for the 2020 NL playoff bracket has the Braves winning their respective Wild Card game. The Braves and Dodgers will have an entertaining NLDS series that goes five games, but the Dodgers will exorcise the demons from their Game 5 loss to the Nationals and advance. The Cardinals will beat the Nationals in four games. I believe that the Cardinals’ pitching staff is one of the up-and-coming rotations in the league, led by Jack Flaherty. They will be able to go toe to toe with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in an NLDS series where they will only have to face each of them once. Also, the Nationals do not have Anthony Rendon. While I think that Rendon does not make the Los Angeles Angels make the playoffs in the AL, he was one of, if not the most clutch player during the Nationals’ postseason run in 2019.

The NLCS will feature two familiar teams with the Cardinals and Dodgers. I picked the Cardinals to win in seven games, as the series could go either way. These two teams have had their share of playoff battles due to their great pitching rotations. Clayton Kershaw has had an illustrious career, but has not had a signature postseason moment. Many are wondering if he will ever have that moment.

New York Yankees Primed For Number 29, but Will They Get It?

In my AL playoff bracket, I have the Twins beating the Indians in what will be dubbed “Game 61” to win the AL Central pennant. The Indians will then beat the Rays in the AL Wild Card game. However, the Indians will have a hard time beating the Yankees. Signing Gerrit Cole gives the Yankees an edge that they have not had over the past few seasons. While Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are decent, they have always struggled with their consistency. Gerrit Cole is the unquestioned ace of the team, and will help the Yankees in the playoffs.

They will play the Astros in the ALDS. Houston will struggle more so this season because they won’t be able to steal signs, but the talent is still there. It is hard to bet against George Springer, Jose Altuve, and the rest of the Astros’ starting lineup. However, they will not be able to get past the Yankees.

2020 World Series Prediction: Yankees over Cardinals in Seven

As much as it pains me to give this news to baseball fans that do not have allegiances to the Yankees, but this may be their year. They have home run hitters in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Also, having a reliable second baseman in DJ LeMahieu doesn’t hurt. I think that they have the most firepower out of any team this season, and they will want to avenge their two ALCS losses to Houston. They have a more complete lineup than St. Louis, and that is why they have the edge.

This MLB season should be fun, and it will be interesting to see if the teams that usually do well end up in the playoffs or if there may be multiple surprises in the 10-team field come October.

Return of USA Pro Sports: Common Ground Between Leagues and Fans

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

As the return of pro sports in the United States draws closer, leagues are getting set to embark on seasons that they have never had to deal with before, there are specific needs that have needed to be addressed between players, owners, and fans in each respective league.

Return of USA Pro Sports Scheduled To Start With MLB

The MLB has had the most contentious path to resuming their season thus far. Luckily for baseball fans, the season looks like it will start around July 23-24. The highlight of Opening Day looks like it will be the defending champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees. A possible Gerrit Cole-Max Scherzer pitching duel on Opening Night should be something that MLB fans salivate over. In a 60-game season, there is a chance that Opening Night has a playoff feel to it already.

NBA Players’ Concerns Need To Be Addressed Despite Responsibility to Fans

For the NBA, the season is set to resume on July 30. The Opening Night to the season resumption will be highlighted by a Clippers-Lakers showdown. This game will set the tone for the race to the playoffs for the NBA. If the Clippers win, it will be game on for the number-one seed in the Western Conference. If the Lakers win, then they will be in the driver’s seat for the number-one seed.

However, some players on the 22 teams set to resume play at the end of July have backed out due to their own concerns regarding COVID-19 and social justice issues.

Fans that may be upset at players backing out have their right to be. However, a player should be taking their own well-being into account when deciding if they want to put themselves in a situation where they are putting themselves and others at risks. Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler cares about the well-being of his family and will be spending time with them instead of playing in Orlando. In a profession that requires so much time away from one’s family, it is understandable why Chandler is making this decision.

These situations are imperfect, but the leagues, players, and fans have to make the best of their unique individual situations.

Return of Pro Sports During a Pandemic Lose-Lose Situation on Surface, but Could Be Big Win For Society

For example, the criticism of the MLB and the players from the fans was definitely warranted. In a middle of a pandemic where the regular person is looking for any form of escapism that they can find, they will become disheartened quickly at negative developments as far as sports returning.

As far as the commissioners are concerned, they have been put in a lose-lose situation. The leagues are already going to lose money because of no fans being present at the games. Sure, it will be interesting to see how much television ratings increase. However, the actual plausibility of certain scenarios will not be known until they are put into practice.

The MLB is going to keep games in teams’ home cities. However, the NBA and NHL have a benefit of a shorter timeframe because they are resuming, not starting, their seasons. They will have one and two hub cities, respectively, where all the teams will be secluded to a “bubble”.

The NFL does not have the luxury of keeping its players in a bubble. There are simply too many players on the rosters. It will be interesting to see if the NFL eventually allows expanded rosters. The issue of pay may also come up during the season also. What will players do if there is a sudden reduction of salary? The one thing that the NFL differs greatly from the MLB is that they already agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the NFL and NFLPA would feud over money.

Sports Leagues Returning Across the World Should Be Encouraging For USA Pro Sports

COVID-19 cases are not rising in Europe like they are in the United States. Therefore, it is an encouraging sign for sports league everywhere that the top European soccer leagues have started to finish their 2019-20 seasons. The German Bundesliga was the first of the four main European soccer leagues that was able to finish their season. Some players on some of these teams, including Barcelona (La Liga), have taken pay cuts.

2020 has had its challenges on society, but having sports back will be a great benefit to the United States. It will both be able to bring important issues to light through sport and offer a source of escapism from the news for fans. Sports coming back will hopefully help the country stay connected through interacting with other fans on social media. Although fans may not be able to celebrate their favorite teams together, they will have the ability to cheer on their teams. It will mean a lot to everyone involved.  

Five Questions About The Upcoming 2020 MLB Season

rob manfred mlb

After months of fighting, the MLB and MLBPA finally agreed on safety and testing protocol this past Tuesday, which led to Commissioner Rob Manfred implementing a 60-game schedule. In other words, baseball is coming back in late July.

I’m glad that the MLB will have a season, but I have so many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, some of them will not be answered when the season begins. Some things will have to play themselves out in order to find answers. For now, here are five questions I have for the upcoming season.

How Will COVID-19 Impact The Season?

This question has been brought to you by “Captain Obvious,” but it’s important to address. The coronavirus is still here and wreaking havoc. The mortality rate is not as high as initially predicted, but positive cases are still on the rise in some areas of the country. Some states like Texas, who opened its economy earlier than others, are now scaling back its opening phases. Once the season starts, there are going to be players who test positive. It’s inevitable. They should recover and the data supports that notion. The league will not stop for one player testing positive, but hypothetically, what if half a team tests positive? It’s likely they all recover, but will teams want to continue playing? Will this franchise even have enough players to field a team? The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything. All we can do is hope.

*For the rest of this article, let’s assume COVID-19 is contained and the entire season runs from start to finish.*

Will The Playoffs Expand To 16 Teams?

Baseball may be coming back for a 60-game regular season, but not every detail has been finalized, particularly, the postseason. As of now, the postseason will remain at 10 teams. However, in an interview with AP, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that he would be “available to discuss it” if there’s interest in postseason expansion. In an unprecedented season, I’m not opposed to adding three additional wild card spots in each league. It gives teams more hopes to keep fighting throughout the season if they stumble out of the gates.

Will The Universal DH Stay In The National League Forever?

One rule that’s been implemented for 2020 is the universal DH, meaning pitchers will not hit this year in the NL. Two words: Thank God. If you’re a baseball purist, turn away. It’s time to implement the universal DH. I don’t want to see pitchers come up to the plate to either strike out on three others or attempt a sacrifice bunt. It’s unnecessary and needs to change. Pitchers in high school and college don’t hit anymore and most pitchers never swing a bat in the minor leagues. With all due respect to Madison Bumgarner, pitchers should never pick up a bat again in the MLB.

Will The Runner On Second Cost Any Teams A Shot At The Playoffs?

In order to shorten extra-inning games and preserve player health, a runner will go to second base at the start of each inning. Call me “Middle Man Dan” because I’m both for and against this rule. In a 60 game season, teams don’t need to be playing 13-inning games in the first month. However, for game 59 with a spot at the playoffs on the line, I might break every window insight if my team missed out on the wild card because they lost a game in extra innings with a runner started on second in extra innings. My compromise would be to implement this new rule up until game 45, and then it goes back to normal from there on out.

Which Teams Are The Favorite To Win The World
Series?

When the dust has settled, who will be holding the “piece of metal” at the end of the season? In a shortened season, conventional logic will point to the teams with elite starting pitching or bullpen depth. Right off the bat, the Dodgers should be the favorite going into the season, which had the lowest combined ERA in 2019. It also doesn’t hurt to add Mookie Betts and Anthony Rendon to the lineup. Behind the Dodgers are the Yankees and Asterisks… I mean Astros. After those three times, the next tier includes the Twins, Nationals, A’s, and Braves. In theory, it’s anyone’s year, but if one of those seven teams don’t win it all, I’d be shocked.

What is your biggest question in regards to the upcoming MLB season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

2020 MLB Season Will Be One to Remember – If It Happens

MLB Home run derby MLB All star game

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is still in question. Commissioner Rob Manfred has yet to come to an agreement with the players.

While I could rant some more about how I am frustrated about this, I want to talk about how the season may play out if it in fact happens. Fans should be frustrated about how the current process has played out, but should be optimistic about what the 2020 MLB season could hold if and hopefully when an agreement is reached.

Washington Nationals Will Have Fresh Pitchers Coming Off World Series Championship

The Nationals were able to re-sign World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. Along with Strasburg, they return a pitching rotation that includes 3-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin. With no wear-and-tear from a normal 162-game season, all three of these pitchers could have excellent seasons. It would not be a stretch to predict at least one no-hitter from Max Scherzer this season.

They lost third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was an integral part of the team in 2019. Rendon departing leaves a void, but now outfielder Juan Soto will be the face of the franchise. If the season is to be played, it will be interesting to see how Soto does coming off of an excellent playoff run in 2019.

Rendon, Mookie Betts Will Both Have Great Seasons In Los Angeles

Anthony Rendon and Mookie Betts, two of the MLB’s more popular players, relocated to Los Angeles during the offseason. Rendon signed a 7-year, $245 million contract with the Angels, while Mookie Betts was traded to the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox. With tempered expectations due to the pandemic, it would not be surprising to see both players put up impressive first years for their new teams.

Still, the Dodgers will have an easier time being successful than their Los Angeles counterparts. The Dodgers are basically a shoe-in to win the NL West yet again this season, while the Angels will have to get past the Houston Astros. The Angels also have a new manager in Joe Maddon.

Houston Astros Will Not Be Booed In Empty Stadiums

One of the main offseason stories in the MLB was the handling of the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros. Many have more of a negative view of the franchise now, and the players would not have been treated with cheers at opposing ballparks. Because of COVID-19, that factor goes away for the Astros. It may be easier for them to focus on winning games and not have to worry about the fans.

New Chicago Cubs Manager David Ross Has Less Pressure on Him in 2020 MLB Season

The Chicago Cubs parted ways with Joe Maddon after the 2019 season, and hired former player David Ross as their new manager. Ross has never been a manager before, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal. If the Cubs had a down year in a normal MLB season, Ross could have faced quite a bit of criticism. Now, Ross will get a chance to feel out being a manager during a shortened 2020 MLB Season, and possibly be more successful because of it. The Cubs are one of the teams that could get hot at any point during the season.

Colorado Rockies are a Dark Horse Team That Could Benefit From Shortened MLB Season

The Rockies have been notorious for being a very streaky team in past seasons. They have four 2019 All-Stars in their lineup with Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and David Dahl. Pitching is always a question with the Rockies, and the Coors Field effect is always a factor with what some think the Rockies’ floor and ceiling may be as a team.

However, because of the firepower the Rockies have on their team, they could make the playoffs simply by going on one decent winning streak. Their four All-Stars are very streaky hitters, and their pitching is also inconsistent.

The sheer unpredictability of baseball makes it so a shortened season may help teams with less overall firepower. That is why any team could make the 2020 MLB Playoffs. If and hopefully when the MLB finally agrees to a deal with the players, the 2020 MLB Season will be one of the most interesting and fun seasons to watch in a long time.

MLB Return To Play: Fans Frustrated About Jumbled Mess

MLB Players only Walk, strikeout or hit a homerun Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge

Players complaining about their salaries and a commissioner who wants to see those players do everything but play baseball. These two developments have been the MLB return to play negotiations in a nutshell.

At least there was the MLB Draft on Wednesday. The Detroit Tigers selected Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick, and I did not watch a single second of the draft.

Last summer, I went to 17 Colorado Rockies games. I did this as part of an independent study at the University of Colorado Boulder. During this study, I analyzed dynamic ticket pricing and certain aspects of the fan’s game day experience at Rockies games. I was hoping to go to just as many if not more Rockies games this summer also. However, that plan obviously was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My plans to go to Rockies games this summer changed into plans of washing my hands 20 times a day. Still, I was hoping I could at least watch baseball this season. That is looking more and more like a distant dream at this point. The MLB and MLBPA have been unable to come to an agreement about how many games they want to play once they return.

MLB Wants To Play Fewer Games with Prorated Salaries

The MLB, as an organization, has butchered their plans to return to play thus far. It is crazy that the league seems to be doing the complete opposite of what is the trend in other major sports leagues like the NFL. The NFL just added a 17th game into the CBA so the owners could get more money. Contrarily, the MLB wants to play fewer games than the MLB Player’s Association does.

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The MLB is arguably the closest sports league to the European Soccer Model in the United States. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many minor leagues across the world will struggle to stay afloat. However, the four major European Soccer Leagues (English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A) have all either started play again or are starting this week. They found the way, and it took cooperation from both sides.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred certainly has not gained any fans either. Many believe that he was not harsh enough against the Houston Astros in their punishment as a result of the sign-stealing scandal. Now, he looks like the one commissioner out of the four major United States sports that are least willing to negotiate with players. However, the players are not completely innocent either.

MLB Players’ Association Wants More Games, More Money

In times like these where unemployment numbers have risen as a result of the pandemic, it would not be crazy to think the MLB may be losing fans because of what could be perceived as player greed. Players want a fair share of their prorated salary. Another thing to think about is that it is the players who want to play more. They could get more money because of this, but it may be tough to play a lot of games if the season is unable to resume by August.

While the players should be respected in this situation by both the league and the fans, it is tough to think that the season may not happen because players would not be getting their full salaries. Some of the top players would be giving up a ton of money, but would still make millions of dollars if they played this season. It is role players that should be worried about the most, however. They may not get a fair salary from owners who have to play other players top dollar.

Other Leagues’ Success In Return-to-Play Plans Makes MLB Look Worse

The NBA was able to work with their players to return to play. In the NHL, both the league and the Players’ Association have been able to communicate and have a set plan in place to return to play. Although the NFL is in its regular offseason, it seems like the league has plans in place if the season has to be altered.

Major League Baseball looks like a complete mess. Their collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2021 season, and the league and players could lose a lot if they do not play this season. The league is going to lose even more fans if they do not return to play this season. Thus, it will take some concessions from both sides for players to play, owners to make money, and fans to be able to at least watch their favorite teams in action. My dream for 2020 MLB baseball is that I wash my hands before I sit down and watch a Rockies game this season.

Astros, Cheating, And Baseball: Do We Actually Care?

Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman

I’m sure you’ve heard the popular phrase, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Everyone cheats. We cheat on our diets when we sneak in some late-night ice cream. Your drunk uncle cheats in Uno when he stashes some extra wild cards in his hand. Hell, men and women cheat on their significant others all the time. If we’re so used to cheating, do we actually care about the Astros’ cheating scandal in baseball?

By now, you probably know about the Houston Astros and their sign-stealing scandal that dates back to 2016. The year is noteworthy because the Astros won the World Series in 2017 and fell one game short of winning it all in 2019. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred conducted an investigation and handed out punishments: manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow received one-year suspensions, loss of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and a $5 million fine.

Clearly, the majority of baseball fans including myself viewed this as a slap on the wrist and the outcry for harsher punishments were evident. To avoid the PR nightmare, the Astros fired Hinch and Luhnow. From there, two of the ring leaders in the scandal, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, also lost their managerial jobs with the Red Sox and Mets, respectively.

The main lesson from all of this may end up being to not fuck with the Internet. And, don’t bang trash cans to steal signs.

And don’t piss off Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger.

And don’t wear buzzers on your chests (?).

Now that you’ve read my Wikipedia entry above, let’s get down to business. Do we actually care about the Astros’ cheating scandal? Yes, I care, but it’s not black and white and there is a level of hypocrisy.

Full disclosure, I am a Yankees fan. The Astros have been a thorn in my side for the past three seasons. From Altuve’s multiple home runs to Verlander’s endless strikeouts, the Astros contributed to my seasonal depression over the winter. Therefore, I’m fully invested in this scandal.

Before I’m accused of throwing stones in glass houses, I’m fully aware the Yankees have cheated before. If you’re anti-steroids, then you can have a field day on Yankees in the late 90s and early 00s. I’m aware that Yankees violated a rule that deals with the use of the dugout phone. I’m also aware the Yankees used their video room to try and decode signs from 2015-2017 before rules were put into place during the 2018 season. If you want to attack the Yankees for all of that, have a field day. However, it’s not like the Yankees were the only team using steroids and trying to decode signs in the replay room.

Now, I feel that I can now speak on what the Astros did, which is bullshit. I’m fully aware every team tries to cheat including my own, but what the Astros did took what we view as cheating and raised it to the tenth power. If you can decode signs without the help of electronics, by all means, go for it. It’s like when Mike D discovered Teddy KGB’s tell in Rounders. That’s gamesmanship. I’m all for it.

However, the Astros used a center field camera to spy on the catcher’s signs, decode them in the replay room, and bang trash cans to relay the message to the batter. That’s cheating. Plus, imagine if there’s concrete evidence that the players were wearing buzzers on their chests. The Astros are very talented, but if the buzzer rumor is true, is their World Series title legit? I’m not giving it an asterisk, but it’s clouded in controversy.

So here I am as a conflicted baseball fan. In a game that has had countless instances of cheating, does this cheating scandal matter? It does matter. What the Astros did was bullshit and they should be punished. I’m not one to take away a World Series, but after Altuve and Bregman’s unapologetic comments, I’m willing to consider suspensions for the players involved. The players do not receive the benefit of the doubt, anymore. The coaches should not be the only ones who fall on the sword.

I’d like to believe the majority of fans care about this scandal, but as baseball has taught us, some other scandal will come in a few years and the Astros sign-stealing will be in the rearview mirror. Until then, I’m going to care and I hope you (pretend to) care, too.

Do you care about the cheating scandal? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.