Jacob deGrom

Rob Manfred Capitalizing On Global Pandemic To Kill Minor League Baseball

Let’s call it what it is. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball sought to kill the Major League draft not because of the COVID19 pandemic. No, he used it as a ruse to facilitate his plan to contract minor league baseball.

Remember, Baseball America first reported Manfred’s plans to contract 42 minor league teams in November. That plan included reducing the draft to 20 rounds, and it was going to be pushed back from June to August. There was also going to be a limit of 150-200 minor leaguers for each organization. Currently, there is no limit.

By and through these plans, short season ball is going to be effectively eliminated. In terms of the Mets, that means no more Kingsport Mets, and it means the Brooklyn Cyclones will have to pay a fee in the ballpark from $8 – $12 million dollars to move from the New York-Penn League to Double-A.

That also effectively puts the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in limbo. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The Rumble Ponies have already been pegged as one of the 42 teams subject to contraction. It is something they are fighting fiercely.

One of the key elements to having no short-season ball is to not accumulate a larger number of minor league players. With fewer minor leaguers, you do not have enough players for leagues like the Appalachian, Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, and other leagues. By moving the draft back to August, you no longer have the need to have a league for college and high school players to get some playing time in before the end of the year.

This is exactly what Major League Baseball is doing a year earlier, and they are using the COVID19 pandemic as an excuse. They’ll say they didn’t have an opportunity to scout players who are entering this year’s draft due to high school and collegiate years being shut down, but that’s a lie. Major League Baseball has been well aware of those players they were going to draft, and they have been scouting them for years.

What they missed is the opportunity to see them grow or regress. Keep in mind, they have no issue using their big money on those draft picks as the first five picks receive the largest bonuses. This was more about cost control by prorating bonuses paid to minor leaguers over a few years, by capping the bonuses given to now undrafted players, and by taking a step forward in eliminating a significant portion of the minor leagues.

To show you how short-sighted this plan is look at the New York Mets roster by where they were drafted:

Think about that for a second. Under this plan, the reigning two-time Cy Young award winner who has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball would not get drafted in 2020. Looking further, under Manfred’s master plan, Mike Piazza, one of two Mets in the Hall of Fame, would never have been drafted, and it is questionable if he ever would have received an opportunity due to the cap on minor league players.

Looking at this plan and agreement, there is one glaring omission. In addition to deferring payments to 2020 draftees, there was no provision in this agreement to pay minor league players their 2020 salary. On that note, both Rob Manfred and Tony Clark should be ashamed of themselves.

Really, this entire agreement is an embarassment for baseball. The sport needed better leadership than what they are providing, and worse yet, the commissioner is taking advantage of global pandemic to take away money and jobs from players and minor league employees.

Trivia Friday: Mets Most Opening Day Starts

This week, the 2020 season was supposed to begin with Jacob deGrom taking the mound against the Washington Nationals. This was going to be deGrom’s second Opening Day start, and hopefully, he will make it at one point; just not right now.

Overall, deGrom has a while to go before making a dent on the Mets leaderboard for most Opening Day starts. That goes from almost everyone on this roster. Can you name the Mets players who have made the most Opening Day starts at each position? Good luck!


Tom Seaver Jerry Grote Keith Hernandez Felix Millan David Wright Bud Harrelson Cleon Jones Kevin McReynolds Mookie Wilson Darryl Strawberry Michael Conforto

Mets Lose Simulated Opening Day

The Mets didn’t have Opening Day. No one did, but everyone tried to do something to celebrate Opening Day. The Mets tried something interesting, and they simulated Opening Day using MLB The Show, and it was broadcast on Twitter and YouTube.

In the game, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer pitched no decisions, and much like last year, Robinson Cano homered off of Scherzer.

Ultimately, the Mets would lose in extra innings. Robert Gsellman walked the lead-off batter, Adam Eaton, and then the Mets couldn’t turn a double play in two attempts.

The first, Jeff McNeil pulled Cano off the bag. The second, Eric Thames beat the throw giving him a go-ahead RBI ground out which would prove to be the winning run in the 3-2 game.

What does this all mean? Nothing really. It’s not indicative of how this game would’ve went, nor is it a harbinger of things to come in 2020 when the Mets are able to play.

Overall, it was something, which is far better than nothing. In the end, it helps pass the time, is mildly entertaining, and it would be made much better if they can get Gary, Keith, and Ron to announce the games.

Hopefully, they’ll continue to show these games in some fashion until we get actual baseball. More than that, the real hope is real, actual baseball can return soon.

Mets First Opening Day Victory

On a day like today, there are any number of Opening Day highlights we can chose. There is Gary Carter‘s walk-off homer. There is Alberto Castillo‘s and Joe Torre‘s walk-off hits. There is Anderson Hernandez‘s diving catch. There is Cleon Jones‘s two home run game, or the game Richie Hebner went 4-for-5.

There are a few pitcher’s duels between Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. There are many, many highlights for a Mets team who has the best Opening Day win percentage out of every Major League team. However, there is only one first time the Mets won on Opening Day, and as luck would have it, that game is actually available:

Looking back at it, it is funny to think the Mets actually won a World Series before they won on Opening Day. The Mets would start the game where they left off with first inning RBI singles from Jones and Art Shamsky. Eventually, this game would go extras with reigning World Series MVP Donn Clendenon once again playing the part of the hero with a two RBI single in the 11th.

All things great have a beginning, and it was 1970 which began the Mets Opening Day winning ways. We can at least watch this game until we can get back to 2020 baseball with Jacob deGrom, perhaps the Mets best pitchers since Seaver, toeing the rubber for the Mets.

We Can Still Celebrate Opening Day

No, this is not a pre-scheduled article which was not edited. Remember, that today is still Opening Day, and just because we are not going to see Jacob deGrom square off against Max Scherzer for the second straight year doesn’t mean there is absolutely no baseball.

If you have a glove, bat, and a baseball. There is baseball.

Go outside and have a catch with your kids or someone else in your household. If it is just you, find a wall and throw a tennis ball against the wall. If nothing else, it is good exercise.

Put on your favorite Mets shirt. For example, I’m going to wear my Michael Conforto raglan t-shirt while my kids wear their Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil shirts. We’re going to go out there with our mitts, tees, and wiffle ball stuff, and we are going to play baseball (again).

Remember, today is Opening Day, and on Opening Day, there is baseball.

It may not be happening at Citi Field or at any other Major League park. You may be banned from playing baseball with people outside of your household. Still, there is baseball. It is in your yard, or if you can’t go outside, it is on your video game platform. If nothing else, it is on your TV.

On ESPN2, you can see Alonso and Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby all over again. On mets.com, you can relive the Murphy Game. You can see deGrom use guts and guile to outlast Zack Greinke followed by Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia just mowing down Dodgers hitters. You can see Daniel Murphy having the game of his life (up until that point) propelling the Mets into the NLCS.

You can also go check out anyone of the Mets games available on MLB.tv or YouTube. There are various Mets games throughout history available on YouTube, or you can just decided to go with clips like Gary Carter hitting a walk-off homer in his first ever game as a New York Met:

Today is a beautiful, cooler Spring day. It is the type of Spring day you want when you go out to the park to go see the Mets play on Opening Day. Just because the Mets can’t take the field today doesn’t mean there’s no baseball.

You can play baseball inside, outside, and/or go watch it. Really, find a way to celebrate baseball because it remains a huge part of our lives. In the end COVID19, may delay the season, and it may take away games. However, it cannot rob us of our love for the sport and the New York Mets.

Today, is March 26, 2020. Baseball is played today. We join as one in our love for the game. This is the day we are supposed to have hope. While some things are definitively different, there is nothing that can change all of that. This is the day we have baseball.

Let’s Go Mets!

Mets Problematic Tommy John History

The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.

Jeremy Hefner

The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.

Matt Harvey

Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.

In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was  wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.

Bobby Parnell

Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.

Zack Wheeler

While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.

He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.

Steven Matz

A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.

Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

Jacob deGrom

When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.

With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.

As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.

Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.

Position Players

The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.

Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.

He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.

This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.

Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.

Noah Syndergaard Needing Tommy John Is The Worst Thing Happening Right Now

In true Mets fashion, it was discovered Mets ace Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL, and he is going to need Tommy John surgery. With that, the Mets chances of winning the 2020 World Series, if the season is ever going to be played, just took a massive hit.

For all the discussion people want to have about Syndergaard not fulfilling his potential as an ace, Syndergaard remained a very good starting pitcher. In 2019, Syndergaard was 18th in FIP, and he had the second best hard-hit rate in the majors. Over the past two seasons, Syndergaard ranked eighth in FIP, and he had the best hard hit rate in the majors.

Overall, while some of his stats did not bear out that way, partially due to what has been an atrocious Mets defense, Syndergaard has pitched like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’d be the ace on almost any other team. Part of the problem Syndergaard has with respect to how he is perceived is he is in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom, and every pitcher in baseball looks worse than they actually are next to him.

Looking at the Mets, their plan to compete for the division was rolling out a great top three of deGrom, Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. Now, they are going to have one of the better 1-2 punches in the majors, but not the best, and certainly, no longer the best 1-2-3 combination.

Worse yet, this thrusts Michael Wacha into that starting rotation. Wacha has been shut down multiple times in his career due to shoulder issues. That includes last year. Over the past two years, Wacha was simply not good. He had a 4.76 ERA with a 1.563 WHIP. In fact, he has had an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.350 in three out of the last four years.

This isn’t like 2015 when the Mets had Steven Matz and Syndergaard waiting in the wings. No, the rotation really couldn’t withstand an injury to one of their top three starters like this. This serves as a crucial blow to their chances of competing.

Of course, things didn’t have to be this way. The Mets could’ve taken the money being given to Rick Porcello, owner of the worst ERA in the AL last year, Wacha, Jake Marisnick, and Dellin Betances, and they could’ve just given it to Zack Wheeler. That also would’ve given them a little money to spare.

With Wheeler, who is a discount at $118 million, especially with money deferred, the Mets still could’ve had a great 1-2 combination, and even with Syndergaard going down, their 1-2-3 punch would have likely remained the best in the majors. Mostly, it would’ve allowed the Mets to better sustain this injury.

Remember, the Mets aren’t just built on pitching. No, they are built on elite starting pitching. The best staff in the majors. That took a giant step back when the Mets let Wheeler walk, and now, it’s frankly no longer the case with Syndergaard done for 2020. In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen lost sight of this, and now he lost his team’s biggest strength.

Now, the Mets are without Syndergaard, and their chances took a MAJOR hit. Now, their hopes lie with Jeremy Hefner having a profound impact on the Mets rotation, which includes, but is not limited to having Porcello and Wacha turn the clock back 5+ years and having Matz reach his full potential.

The question next becomes what happens if the next pitcher goes down. Unless Corey Oswalt or Stephen Gonsalves are ready to contribute, this all could become a disaster rather quickly. The ultimate point here is the Mets chances of winning the World Series went from legitimately possible to having a real outside shot. That’s just how much losing Syndergaard hurts the team.

At least from a Mets fans perspective, this is the worst thing happening in the world right now. Of course, that really isn’t true. There are far more pressing concerns at the moment.

On that front, one of the things Mets fans were clinging onto was the prospect of the return of baseball at some point during 2020. When that happened, the Mets had that type of rotation which could have taken them their first World Series title since 1986. Now, there may not even be that to look forward to at at time when we are just sitting around waiting for things to improve.

On a day like today, when it is reported Syndergaard won’t pitch at all in 2020, it does not seem like things are going to be any better anytime soon.

Rule Changes MLB May Need To Institute In 2020

Even with the KBO playing practice games, it’s too early to know when or even if MLB is going to return in 2020. In the event baseball does return, it appears we’re going to get a limited season, and if that happens, baseball needs to make some changes.

The biggest reason for the changes is the pitching. The pitchers were ramping it up for the start of the season. Now, they’re effectively shut down and will have to ramp it back up when baseball can return. This is just asking for injuries.

After what will be an abbreviated second Spring Training, pitchers are very likely not going to be able to go full tilt to start the season. Not even the Jacob deGroms and Max Scherzers of the world. This means, MLB teams will be hitting their bullpens early and often.

Roster Expansion

Even during the best of times, teams feel like they never have enough arms in the pen. In 2020, that’ll definitely feel like the case. That goes double when you consider the new three batter minimum and the absolute cap of 13 pitchers. If you are going to keep those rules in place, and push some relievers early at the outset, you run the risk of them getting injured as well.

Honestly, baseball cannot have a situation where every team effectively becomes the Tampa Bay Rays. You can’t have 30 teams with just two starters going at least five with the rest of the team mixing and matching to figure out how to get through the other three games. It’s very likely back-end starters and relievers will not be up to the task, and that is before you consider the presence of an extra inning game which could decimate an entire bullpen.

With that in mind, at a minimum, baseball needs to immediately go to expanded rosters. Under the 2020 rules, that is only 28 players in September. If all three were pitchers, that might be enough. It might not. Perhaps to start the year, it can be bumped up to at least 30 or maybe 35 and then tier it down as the season progresses. By doing that, you are ensuring less wear and tear on arms which may lead to fewer pitcher injuries.

Taxi Squad

If baseball wants to stick with 25 or 28 man rosters, they need to find ways to make it work in light of pitcher workloads. Maybe, instead of expanding rosters, MLB could limit teams to just 25 players for one game while creating a taxi squad of three to four players who can be activated or deactivated at any time. Maybe more than that.

Again, there is going to be a strain on pitching, starters and relievers alike. The goal here is to keep pitchers healthy as baseball does not want there to be ramifications for the 2020 season spilling into 2021 and 2022. Overall, baseball wants its best players on the field.

To prevent abuses, there could be a rule where there must be five pitchers designated as starters who must always be active, and there can be provisions put in place to designate a pitcher a starter (akin to the two-way player rule). If need be, there can also be provisions on how long a reliever must be “active” once removed from the taxi squad.

The institution of a taxi squad could have an added benefit. Right now, MLB and the MLBPA are trying to figure out issues related to compensation and service time. By instituting a taxi squad, there will be an avenue to give some extra players more service time and compensation. That could go a long ways towards positively resolving those issues before baseball is ready to return.

Doubleheaders

Now, baseball has said they want to play a full 162 game slate. At some point, that may not be possible. When the red line is for when teams cannot play 162 games is up for debate, both publicly and as part of the MLB/MLBPA discussions.

In any event, it is clear baseball will want to play as many games as possible, and that may require doubleheaders to be played. There are other reasons to play doubleheaders for teams as well.

First and foremost, it may behoove teams to stay in one place for longer as airline and rail travel gets sorted out after this coronavirus outbreak. Obviously, there are going to be many logistical issues there. Perhaps by having doubleheaders, you eliminate some of those logistical issues.

The bigger point, as baseball may be concerned, is the possibility of more revenue. Doubleheaders means more commercial time. If you can do a day/night multiple admission, that means two gates. Of course, that assumes fans can go to games at all, and being honest, that may be too many people in a ballpark in one day. Still, if it’s possible, you know baseball will find that revenue stream.

Really, baseball wants to play as many games as possible, and in the end, that may just require doubleheaders. What can be done in terms of admission and the like is still up for debate. To that end, the need for doubleheaders, or even shoehorning in as many games as possible over a few calendar months, only serves to highlight the need for expanded rosters and taxi squads to help prevent pitcher injuries.

Altered Postseason Format

It is going to be difficult to justify playing games into late November or early December. That may only be possible with Northeast teams playing at neutral sites in Miami or San Diego. Assuming fans can attend games, it is going to be difficult to tell Mets fans they need to go to San Diego to watch their team try to win their first World Series since 1986.

If you’re baseball, that isn’t going to work, and they are going to need to figure something else out.

One thing they could do is a greatly expanded postseason. If anything, this could be a beta test of the new postseason format Rob Manfred wanted to try anyway. They could have fewer regular season games while selling their TV partners of a greatly expanded postseason. That could help them overcome some of the financial issues they may face.

They could also condense the postseason somehow, but honestly, no one anywhere is going to go for that.

In the end, more postseason games and fewer regular season games may be the trade-off baseball, the players, and TV partners may wind up agreeing to in an effort to generate ratings and increased revenues. We may also see some series, like the NLDS, played in one park due to travel restrictions and the like. Who knows?

Overall

The who knows part of this is the driving force. No one knows when or if games can be played. No one knows what if anything players are able to do to stay in game shape. No one knows if fans can attend games or the restrictions on travel when games can return.

The key for baseball getting through this COVID19 crisis is to be flexible and responsive to the challenges which have arisen and may still arise. Honestly, that is not something which has ever been baseball’s strength, especially not under Rob Manfred.

In the end, we can only hope games will be played and that we get to see as many games as we can as soon as they can possibly be played.

With KBO Beginning Play, Mets Fans At Least Have Chris Flexen

South Korea is where we soon hope to be as a country. They have widespread testing, and as a result, they’ve been able to return to normalcy much quicker. They’re even at the point where baseball is soon to return.

Yesterday, the KBO, the Korean Baseball Organization, returned to play with practice games. With these intrasquad games, we can finally see some real baseball being played. Fortunately, some of these games are being streamed on YouTube:

If that pitcher for the Doosan Bears looks familiar, it should. That’s former Mets pitcher Chris Flexen. He would have a scoreless appearance.

Seeing actual baseball and seeing a familiar face pitch is a needed reminder there’s still hope we can all get back to normal. We may not know when, but it can happen, and hopefully, that day will come soon.

Until then, we get to see Flexen. For parts of three seasons, that’s something which would’ve made many Mets fans cringe. Now, seeing Flexen on the mound is hope, and it is something to be enjoyed at least until we get to see Jacob deGrom back on the mound to begin the 2020 season.

MLB Should Kick Off The 2020 Season With The All Star Game

According to reports from MLB, while there is hope to resume the baseball season in May and play all 162 games, there are indications the baseball season may not be able to start until July. Overall, the optimistic view is Memorial Day weekend, and the pessimistic view is Fourth of July or All-Star Weekend.

Actually, the pessimistic view is no 2020 season, but we’ll address that at some other time.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume baseball cannot resume during the month of May, and there is going to need to be some form of Spring Training in June before baseball can begin anew. At that time, even the most casual of baseball fans will be baseball starved, and they will want to see any form of baseball as soon as they can.

Now, the later the season goes, the chances of the All Star Game actually being played become increasingly more remote. That’s problematic for the Los Angeles Dodgers who were awarded the game, and they cannot get the game back until 2022.

When you think about it, there is no reason for the Dodgers to lose the All-Star Game. After all, it is just an exhibition designed to give fans baseball at at time players are getting a mid-season break. On a related note, it is an event baseball wishes they could garner more interest leaving them to try different things like “making the game count” or miking up players in the field.

In some ways, COVID19 presents a real opportunity for MLB to get as much possible interest in the All-Star Game. If MLB were to start the 2020 season with the game, instead of using it as the midway point of the season, a baseball craved fanbase and sports starved world will likely tune it to watch at record numbers.

If you think about it for a second, the All Star Game is well suited for Spring Training anyway. Pitchers can only pitch a maximum of two innings. Position players play a couple of innings. There’s light workouts mostly generated in getting fan attention. In essence, the All-Star Game is really just a hyped Spring Training Game.

If it’s really just a Spring Training game with really good players, let’s make it a Spring Training All-Star Game, at least this one year. After all, it is not unprecedented to begin a professional sports season with a marquee event. For example, NASCAR begins their season with the Daytona 500, an event they deem their “Super Bowl.”

Seeing how this is fan driven event with each team getting a representative, allow the fans to pick the representative from their team. It’s a fun way to do it too. We can see Jacob deGrom and Pete Alonso squre off. Maybe this could lead to another video of Alonso and Jeff McNeil to make their case as to why it should be Alonso.

Other teams can have similar fun and interesting debates. For Yankee fans, is your guy Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres, or are you already star struck by Gerrit Cole? Do Dodgers fans love Clayton Kershaw that much, or is Cody Bellinger their guy now? Like Yankees fans, maybe it is the new guy Mookie Betts.

Really, the only team who is a 100% lock for a player is the Angels with Mike Trout. Then again, maybe the large contingent of Japanese fans will vote for Shohei Ohtani.

There are fun possibilities, and honestly, it gives baseball fans something to argue and debate leading up to the start of the season. If people are searching for things to talk about now, just wait until there are no sports in March, April, and May. Fighting over who should and should not be an All-Star will be at a fevered pitch, at least that’s the hope.

Once there are 15 players selected by the fans for each squad, the players can fill out the rest of the 34 man roster. After all 34 players are named, the fans can then vote who from the pool of players should be starters in the All-Star Game.

Again, the concept here is to get fans engaged with something to discuss and to give people baseball even when MLB can’t give them baseball. Then, finally, when MLB can give them baseball, they will start the abbreviated season with a must-see event with the best players in the game taking the field.

Overall, it allows us to have the All-Star Game, and it gives us something to look forward to, which at a time like this is something we really need.