COVID19

Simulated Recap: GKR Are Back!

These are hard times for us all, and we’re desperately looking for anything close to normal we can get. We got that tonight with Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling announcing a simulated game:

It was phenomenal. They were talking about the gameplay. The hard to see neck tattoos. How poor the caps looked. Brandon Nimmo not smiling or hustling to first on a walk, and Jeff McNeil not swinging at everything. There was also Gare taking a shot at the Astros every chance he got.

In the end, Jacob deGrom outlasted Justin Verlander, and the Mets won 2-1 with J.D. Davis getting the game winning hit in the same ballpark where he used to get the signs.

In addition to the Mets getting the win to improve to 3-7, it was also nice to see Yoenis Cespedes come off the simulated IL, and Edwin Diaz get the save. Mostly, at least for one night, it was great having GKR back in our lives because for one brief moment, everything seemed at least a little normal.

Simulated Recap: Mets Better With Conforto

In this simulated season, Michael Conforto was back in the lineup (remember when the worst thing that happened was his late Spring injury), and he homered. Between his play and Rick Porcello pitching seven strong, the Mets won 6-2.

As an added benefit, Edwin Diaz came into a pressure situation in the ninth to record the save.

Simulated Recap: Mets Lose In Early 2019 Fashion

These simulated games are getting painful to watch, and they’re just reminding you of the worst of Mets baseball for the past few years. This game was no exception.

If you can stomach to watch the Mets blow this one, more power to you. If you don’t want to do that to yourself, it can be summarized easily.

Dellin Betances gave away some of the lead. Edwin Diaz blew the save. Juan Soto hit a walk-off two run homer off Brad Brach in the 12th. The Virtual 2020 Mets are now 1-7.

On the bright side, this is just for fun and doesn’t really count. If you want a more optimistic look at what could’ve been, over at Baseball Reference, using an OOTP simulation, this team is 4-4.

Simulated Recap: At Least We Didn’t See Nationals Banner Raising

This was a fine pitcher’s duel between Marcus Stroman and Stephen Strasburg with neither team able to break through against them until Pete Alonso homered in the sixth.

The next three homers would come from the Nationals. The first was a two run shot by Juan Soto against Stroman in the bottom of the sixth.

The Mets would load the bases in the eighth, but J.D. Davis struck out, and Robinson Cano flew out. Throw in a Nationals homer off Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the eighth, and the Nationals would win 4-1.

On the bright side, neither we nor the virtual Mets had to watch the Nationals raise their virtual banner.

Use Zoom To Help Your Children See Their Friends

Seemingly, every school district in the United States has closed schools leaving parents to home-school their children. Looking beyond that, they are under the same self isolation and quarantine orders as their parents are. That leaves parents and children home and away from the outside world.

This is hard on everyone, especially our children. They are unable to see their friends. Their activities, like Little League, are being postponed or canceled. This leaves us as parents looking for ways to engage them and to make them feel normal.

Certainly, FaceTime helps, but that only works if the other parents have an iPhone as well. It is also somewhat restrictive in that it limits it to one-on-one interaction. It would also be beneficial if you could get a group of friends together in a fashion similar to what they normally do.

On that note, many have been utilizing Zoom to have office meetings and the like. Seeing how effective it has been for work, we should also be looking to use it for our children to allow them to see and speak with their friends.

Get together with the other parents and schedule a time where you can all have your children speak to one another using Zoom. You can do it as one-on-one or much larger groups. It also helps carve out the time to make sure everyone does it.

Think of this like Little League practice. For example, let’s say you were going to have Little League practices on Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. Now, instead, you can make that Zoom time. How long you want to do it for is up to you and the other parents.

It doesn’t matter if  you have hours to spend or if you just have 5-10 minutes. Every little bit helps your children see their friends and help them feel normal at least for that small time frame. You know you have that time somewhere in your schedule over the course of a week. Find it and coordinate with other parents to do it and help you and your children through this process.

Shin-Soo Choo Stepping Up To Pay Minor Leaguers

There are 191 minor leaguers in the Texas Rangers farm system. With comes 191 players who have no idea when or if they are going to be paid by the Texas Rangers. At this moment, Major League Baseball has dictated teams pay minor leaguers $400/week through the end of May, and they will be receiving medical benefits as part of the plan.

It’s something, but it is really not enough. These are players who really don’t get a living wage as it is, and they are going to be more financially strapped than they typically are. With the state of the world, it is not like they can just seek outside employment easily to help cover their bills.

No, minor league players are heading into a scary time, and their employers worth billions of dollars are not leaving them with any assurances.

Knowing this and having experienced struggling financially as a minor league player, Shin-Soo Choo has sent $1,000 to each of the 190 players in the Texas Rangers farm system. If nothing else, that’s an extra two-and-a-half weeks salary for these players.

In doing this, Choo said, “I know right now the minor league system is better than 15-20 years ago, but still tough. Everything’s very difficult, especially money-wise.” (ESPN).

As noted in the ESPN article, when he was thanked by Texas Rangers utility minor league infielder Eli White, Choo responded by saying, “Eli don’t worry about money. Just keep playing baseball. Let me know if you need something more.”

As if this gesture wasn’t enough, Choo is also donating $200,000 to help fight COVID19 in Daegu, South Korea, a city which has been hit hard by the pandemic and is an hour away from his hometown. In total, that’s $390,000 from Choo at a time when he is in the last year of his contract. With his turning 38 this year, it may be his last year before retirement.

To a certain extent, you can’t help but contrast this with what the Wilpons have done. It appears they have informed ballpark employees they may not be employed by the club this year. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post also reported SNY stopped paying freelance and production workers despite the fact SNY is still receiving their network cable fees.

The Mets are not alone in this as other teams have begun taking measures to inform their employees they are going to be terminated. There are also teams who are releasing minor leaguers meaning that they don’t have to pay those players at all.

These are not normal times, and there are people whose livelihoods and lives are going to be dramatically impacted by this pandemic. There are people like Shin-Soo Choo who are stepping up and doing what they can to help people. Then, there are people like the Wilpons who are not.

Simulated Recap: No Fooling, Mets Finally Win

Well, it finally happened. Behind the pitching of Jacob deGrom, the Mets finally have a simulated win for the 2020 season.

For a while, it looked like a typical deGrom start with him shutting down the other side and the Mets not scoring runs. Jeff McNeil was thrown out at the plate, and Brandon Nimmo struck out with the bases loaded.

Finally, Robinson Cano hit an RBI single in the third, and Dominic Smith would hit a three run homer to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. Pete Alonso, who has struggled in 2020 (for what very little that’s worth) also homered in the game.

It was a very rude homecoming for Zack Wheeler who only lasted four innings and would take the loss.

The Phillies didn’t get to deGrom until Nick Williams hit a two run homer in the seventh, but that only pulled the Phillies to within 5-2.

Seth Lugo got touched up for two in the eighth, but Edwin Diaz would shut the door in the ninth to preserve the Mets 5-4 win, their first of the season.

Major League Baseball Classic

As noted earlier, those sporting events originally scheduled for April and May which are being postponed are mostly being rescheduled for September. Inherent in that is the assumption by organizers of these events is September is a relatively safe time we can pinpoint to once again host events.

Assuming for a moment September 2020 is the time sporting events can once again be held, Major League Baseball has a real problem on their hands. At the end of the day, they are going to be left with a myriad of just bad options at their feet.

The first and least attractive option is to cancel the entire 2020 season. While we would all understand, no one wants to see that happen. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you want to see this pandemic end and for everyone to get back to their normal lives.

The other option is playing into December utilizing neutral sites. There are a number of issues with that including figuring out which cities can safely host games into the winter both in terms of the weather and COVID19. Aside from that, how can so few ballparks host so many games for 30 teams? It doesn’t seem plausible.

To that end, maybe the realistic target is to finish the regular season, whatever can be salvaged of it, by Halloween. Maybe that’s two months. Maybe three. Perhaps, it is just one. No matter what, we are still talking about neutral site postseason games for November and December.

At some point, Major League Baseball has to ask itself whether this is both plausible and whether this is worth it. Remember, part and parcel with this is these same players, pitchers especially, are going to have to be ready just a month or two later to begin the 2021 season.

Really, can baseball have a full free agency, Rule 5 Draft, GM and Winter Meetings, and a full offseason in the Month of January alone. Really, the deeper we go into 2020, the more we are going to affect the 2021 season. That’s just compounding the problem.

With that in mind, in lieu of a 2020 regular season, Major League Baseball should host the Major League Baseball Classic modeled after the World Baseball Classic.

Looking at the World Baseball Classic, there are four pools who play a round robin tournament. The top two two teams from each pool advance to the next round. Those eight teams comprise two new pools. From there, the top four teams advance to a single elimination semifinals and championship. The key for Major League Baseball is to find a way to make that tournament played over three weeks into a format which makes sense for baseball.

That is partially going to depend on the amount of time baseball has to play. For the moment, let’s assume baseball cannot resume games until Labor Day.

With there being six divisions, you have six built-in pools of five teams a piece. What is interesting about each pool is all but one division has at least one all-weather venue which can be utilized by each division. As a result, those locations should be tabbed to host each pool/division:

AL East Rogers Centre/Tropicana Field
AL Central None
AL West T-Mobile Park/Minute Maid Park/Angel Stadium
NL East Marlins Park
NL Central Miller Park
NL West Petco Field/Chase Field/Dodgers Stadium

Based upon a myriad of factors, MLB can select a venue for each pool. Whether they feel it prudent to have six different stadiums where they can play or fewer venues is up to baseball and governmental authorities. They can also go to another location if deemed necessary.

Depending on the amount of games baseball feels it can have, baseball can focus on their biggest rivalries by treating each division like a World Baseball Classic pool. They can use this to determine the three division winners like they normally would during the regular season.

From there, MLB can go with two different options. They can limit the next round to just the three division winners with a double elimination to determine the teams who go to the best-of-seven LCS. They could also make a larger pool with six teams (top two from each division) with the top two teams moving to an LCS.

With the six teams, you could also have a double elimination between the three Wild Card teams and start the LDS series from there as you usually would.

Overall, the ideal you are looking for is to set up your typical best-of-seven LCS and World Series. By setting it up under a World Baseball Classic format, you limit travel, and you are able to go from game to game without issue. If there needs to be doubleheaders, it is easier to do since everyone is in one place.

The key is to get players in one place to let you play as many games as possible as quickly as possible. If you are able to get fans there, all the better, but at this point that may be a pipe dream.

Whether it is this plan or another plan, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have any form of a season. With that being the case, MLB should be seriously considering moving to a tournament format. Fortunately, with their already operating the World Baseball Classic, they know which venues can best accommodate a tournament, and they know the logistics which need to be in place to run that format.

Slowly Realizing There May Be No Baseball This Year

No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke. Rather, looking at everything happening, you do have to wonder how it can be possible for Major League Baseball to play games in 2020. Right now, we know the NCAA Tournament was canceled, and the MLB, NHL, and NBA seasons are currently suspended. However, it is more than that. Look at the events which have been currently postponed:

Original Date Rescheduled
Masters April 9, 2020 TBD
Boston Marathon April 19, 2020 September 14, 2020
Kentucky Derby May 2, 2020 September 5, 2020
PGA Championship May 11, 2020 TBD
Preakness May 16, 2020 September 2020
French Open May 18, 2020 September 20, 2020
Indy 500 May 24, 2020 August 23, 2020
2020 Summer Olympics July 24, 2020 July 21, 2021

In addition to these events, there is growing speculation Wimbeldon will have to be canceled. There are two reasons for the expected cancelation, both COVID19 related. First and foremost, no one has any idea when we can resume our normal lives and attend sporting events. The other reason is with the COVID19 outbreak the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club is unable to be maintained. With it not being able to be maintained, it is difficult to ascertain when the courts can be brought into safe playing condition.

That last point hits home with baseball. There are 30 Major League ballparks which are presumably not being maintained. As a result, in addition to the time players need to prepare to start playing baseball again, there is also the time ground crews need to make fields playable again. That may not make much time, but it is a factor.

More important than that is the public health. With the Olympics being postponed a full year, we see organizers are not confident they will be able to host events from late July into August. Considering the scale of the event, you can understand an earlier cancellation, but in the end, this is the first sign we’re probably not going to see sporting events this summer.

On that note, take a look at the events which have been rescheduled. The April and May events which are being postponed are mostly being scheduled for September. Right there is an indication as to when organizers of these events believe we can reasonably return to seeing sporting events being played.

If events cannot be held until late August or even early September, you have to wonder when or if baseball can return. Remember, baseball needs to get maintenance crews to attend fields left not maintained for months, and they need players to get back into playing shape withe some form of a Spring Training.

That is all before you realize MLB initially said it will not return to play until it was deemed safe for spectators to attend events. That is becoming increasingly unlikely, and perhaps that is why Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported MLB is now investigating playing initially without crowds to play as many games as possible.

At this point, baseball isn’t even contemplating playing before mid-May and with each passing day that becomes unrealistic. At this point, everyone needs to begin asking themselves, fans or no fans, can they even play baseball in 2020?

That answer might be no.

Simulated Recap: Shades Of 2005

Fifteen years ago, Mets fans were psyched for a season where Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran joined a team which already had Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes, and David Wright. On Opening Day, the Mets bullpen, namely Braden Looper, blew the game setting the stage for an 0-5 start. Based on the MLB The Show 20 simulations, we’re revisiting that season.

In the fourth, Rhys Hoskins would hit the first of two homers. That one homer off Michael Wacha was all the margin the Phillies needed as Aaron Nola completely shut down the Mets offense.

After this 3-0 loss, video game Luis Rojas has started his managerial career 0-5. That’s just like Willie Randolph. Of course, that Mets team would still finish the year above .500, and it would be a stepping stone to the last great Mets team in Shea Stadium the following year.

Any Mets fan would take this Mets team building towards being one at-bat from a World Series. Mostly, they’ll take any baseball whatsoever.