Fantasy Baseball Hot Takes: Current State of MLB
Greg Jewett talks about the current state of MLB and what no baseball has meant to players and fans alike.
As the days go by, and quarantines become a staple of many readers' lives, adaptability will be a key to success. This also applies to the strategy for baseball to eventually return. Losing a full season could be troubling to a sport needing more exposure and accessibility to thrive once again. Perhaps the coronavirus may lend a hand in changing how America’s pastime evolves?
Before the shutdown, many fans and writers on Twitter commented on how much they enjoyed players wearing microphones during the game. It brought about these great scenes:
Also, from Freddie Freeman …
If baseball opens its season with empty stadiums, allowing fans access to players could help reconnect us to the game despite social distancing. Having a favorite player can be easy on a team, but actually learning about their personalities may be the hook to get kids into baseball. For any sport to survive, it needs the next generation to support it. Baseball lends itself to parents and grandparents sharing the game. It spans generations with statistics, not asterisks.
For myself, my grandfather took me to Opening Day in Syracuse for years while I attended elementary school, junior high and even high school. I conveniently had a dental appointment on whatever day the Chiefs opened their season. My grandpa would pick me up from school, drive to the stadium, get peanuts, a program (letting me keep score) and he would smoke a cigar (which to this day I can still smell in my imagination) at the seventh-inning stretch. As a kid, my Dad would take my friend Shannon and I to the helmet game.
By the helmet game, you would receive a ticket for one of these helmets and race to the back where they were handed out. Getting as many teams as possible, meant having simulated games of whiffle ball in the backyard pretending to be the players on each team. Growing up in the 1970s awaiting the Game of the Week, it meant seeing players from around baseball in a more limited fashion. But, shows like This Week In Baseball and Monday Night Baseball on ABC let kids my age see a wide array of athletes. In the 1980s, George Michael’s Sports Machine provided highlights while baseball appeared on more networks. With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see players play the game I loved as a kid on Trevor Bauer ’s Facebook page:
You've already seen the livestream, now here's the full recap of the #SandlotGame with EVERYONE mic'd up ??— Momentum (@Watch_Momentum) March 19, 2020
Watch live now with @BauerOutage ?? https://t.co/57DkIG14Or
Watch on our YouTube Channel ?? https://t.co/67KlQk4UQe pic.twitter.com/VCOJcA5Akq
Again, being a kid and doing this exact same thing, of course only in my backyard with no fence, just a hill to the creek, it resonates. Baseball can be a link to the past, present and future. It’s part of its allure. My Dad’s favorite player growing up, like many his age, Mickey Mantle wore number seven. Last year when my son made varsity baseball, his hockey number (18) was an extra-large jersey, not his size, so he selected a medium jersey. Unbeknownst to him, Alec selected number seven to wear for the season. Which made his grandfather happy, my Dad.
Suffice it to say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Baseball can overcome this pandemic and provide a respite or welcome break from reality. Even if it’s just hope right now. More recently, the tragedy of 9/11 put baseball in the spotlight as a beacon for those suffering. From George W. Bush’s first pitch to the Yankees and Mets donning the first responders hats in games making them a must for fans, baseball helped those in need. It also happens in smaller ways. One reader and avid fantasy baseball player shared his feelings about how baseball helped he and his wife overcome loss. Sparked by this tweet, I reached out to Steve (@steven_brunn):
We used baseball after the loss of our son. With no sports right now many ppl have lost that distraction from the reality of what we are dealing with.— Steve Brunn (@steven_brunn) March 16, 2020
In 2004, Steven and his wife lost a son born prematurely on October third. They spent time together watching baseball for the next four weeks during the playoffs missing only one game together. Steven attended the “bloody sock” game featuring Curt Schilling defeating the Yankees in Game Six of the American League Championship Series:
As for Steven and his wife Lauren, baseball helped “save her” in his words speaking about the loss of their son. For the good news, they have two beautiful girls and the oldest loves baseball as well while being an accomplished softball player. Steven’s a pharmacist and Lauren’s a pediatrician on the front lines helping others through this pandemic. So, we take our hats off to them as well.
With so many questions lingering about when the game can return, the MLB sits in a holding pattern. Players returning home to their families and fans searching for something to fill the void, many in isolation. Strong messages from heroes can help:
We miss baseball just as much as you do but be sure to stay safe and follow these tips. Can’t wait to see you all soon! pic.twitter.com/jmHprfaUAW— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 19, 2020
Fantasy baseball players also remain in limbo. Trying to discern how many games will be played once baseball resumes, how the injury issues will affect values of players once this becomes established and how long it will take players to return to game readiness. This picture encapsulates my thoughts right now with all these factors taken into account:
For starters, how many games will MLB play? This seems like a gray area with many tweets on the issue, but perhaps the Joe Maddon link makes the most sense with empty seats makes the most sense, hence the need for more access to players for fans. Here are some relevant tweets for your perusal:
#Reds' Dick Williams said the goal is that whenever the season begins, they want to play as many regular-season games as possible, and could 'get creative on the back-end'— C. ???????????? (@ctrent) March 18, 2020
Creative on the back end? As in…
One conceivable way to play into December would be neutral-site series in postseason. Designate warm-weather or domed ballparks -- AL parks for NL playoffs and vice-versa to assure no home-field advantage. And backup parks in case team(s) w/ one of designated parks makes playoffs https://t.co/kw5oyAf117— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 17, 2020
This seems conceivable. Put teams in neutral stadiums with retractable roofs not in the playoffs to finish the season without weather deciding outcomes. However, going too deep into November means competing with the NFL, which could be dicey. Avoid games on Sunday and keep baseball relevant on the other days. As for the start with no fans, this link provides insight:
Angels manager Joe Maddon is for playing games in empty stadiums as a start— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) March 18, 2020
“You’d have to believe something would be better than nothing.”
And more from Maddon’s first group interview since MLB halted spring training and delayed the start of the season
For the cliff note version, see below:
Joe Maddon said he does believe a season will be played, and even if isn’t a full 162 games, it will be a “pretty full” season. He said he’d be willing to start the year playing in front of empty stadiums, letting players be mic’d up to increase fan interaction.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 18, 2020
As the wise man, Bob Dylan, once crooned “The Times They Are-A Changin’”. Whether baseball plays 162, 140, 110 or 90 games, a season should happen. Fantasy owners will weather the storm with drafts being pushed back taking away some fun times which tie the binds this game provides us. From Michael Pucci (@PUCCISMASH), he lost out on good food, good whiskey and seeing his friends this weekend. One of our most ardent Fantasy Alarm family members feels lost without sports as well:
You know how you imagine the empty nest syndrome when your kids move out. That’s how I feel now ???? only with sports.— Cheyanne Bailey (@cheyannarach) March 19, 2020
One our site's most active producers of content for DFS and strategy needs your love as well, send him questions to save him from himself:
I’m playing simulation DFS so maybe I have a problem that needs to be addressed— Jonathan Impemba (@jimpemba777) March 19, 2020
My pledge remains simple. Although over 130 player profiles by Colby Conway (@colbyrconway) and myself were submitted to the editor, they will need to be adapted once more news surfaces regarding the timeframe of the MLB season and reassessing how to handle injured players. This remains a slippery slope right now and it opens the door for taking chances on players like Aaron Judge , Giancarlo Stanton , James Paxton , Justin Verlander , Mike Clevinger , and even Willie Calhoun , right Josh?
Work league I was just invited to drafted on Monday...was so weird drafting a team but not knowing when they'd play, the league I run is TBD still...but certainly helps injured guys, gladly took a flier on Calhoun in the last round...but otherwise it all just feels way too weird— Archie Walters (@TheSchurThing) March 19, 2020
All of the editing will occur with projections aligning with however many games the MLB decides to play. Keep in mind, the shorter the season, the more volatile outcomes could be. Not all second-half breakouts carry over and the number of outlier seasons 2020 could provide paves the way for increased analysis. I will be here for you. One of the best things about Fantasy Alarm the #FAmily aspect of our site. Adjusting on the fly and providing top-notch analysis will be the goal to keep our subscribers from transitioning like this guy in Florida:
Until baseball returns, get on a helmet and pretend your swing’s as pretty as this one:
Ken Griffey Jr.'s swing will never get old ???? pic.twitter.com/geqcypx9EP— ESPN (@espn) March 18, 2020
Any questions or work you’d like me to do in this time of social distancing, feel free to reach out, I love Max Scherzer but I will not respond like he or Mike Mussina:
As for Tim Anderson , we miss you too:
I Miss Y’all ???? pic.twitter.com/emr4EtBy9u— T A 7 (@TimAnderson7) March 18, 2020
Be safe, wash your hands and I will start watching spring training games until further notice. There’s something about green grass, short sleeves, and sunshine which warms the soul. I miss baseball but it will be back sooner than it seems. Until then, hope keeps us afloat while we await the welcome distraction sports provide. Positivity propels us forward. Focus on family and love the ones you’re with. And, maybe play Wiffle ball to pass the time. Thanks for reading. This proved to be therapeutic. And I hope baseball returns for our own Andy Spiteri (@gasdoc_spit), who keeps his own battle with cancer going writing about fantasy baseball. Not only a tireless adminstrator of the Mock Draft Army, he produces great content and deserves to see another game. Faith and hope, in times of need, keep us going. God speed Andy, I hope you see our sport resume soon.