This past week the MLB and Cuba struck a deal that would allow Cuban players to join an MLB organization straight form Cuba. Prior to this deal Cuban players would have to defect to another country before being eligible to sign with an MLB team. This would prevent Cuban players from having to be smuggled into another country which often lead to kidnappings and much worse for the players. This deal would make it much safer and easier for Cuban players to come to America to play in the MLB. The one problem facing this deal is the fact that the provisions set in place in the past few years that allow for easier movement from the US to Cuba are in danger of being rolled back. If this was to happen there would be a major roadblock in putting the deal between the MLB and Cuba into action. I believe that it is in the best interest of not Cuba but the US and the MLB to help this deal go through to help protect the Cuban players who are just trying to fulfill their dreams of playing professional baseball in the US.
It has been hotly debated recently whether Ichiro Suzuki should be considered the all-time hit leader in baseball history. His 4367 professional hits are the most of any player in the history of the sport. The reason that there is a debate over this is because 1278 of those hits came when Ichiro was playing over in Japan. The most a player has gotten while playing in the MLB is 4256 hits, a record held by Pete Rose. People are split about whether to consider Ichiro or Pete Rose the all-time hit leader. There are some very good arguments for both candidates. Many people argue that Pete Rose should be considered the all-time hit leader because he got all his hits in the MLB, the most elite professional league in the world. It is much harder to hit in the MLB than it is to hit in other leagues such as the Japanese professional league. There are some very good arguments in Ichiro’s defense too though. The first is that his 1278 hits in Japan should still be considered pro hits as Japan’s professional league is probably second in the world to the MLB. Japan has produced many MLB quality pitchers, some of who have been all-stars and Cy Young Award finalists. Another argument is that the Japanese pro leagues regular season is only 144 games which means he had less games to collect hits in. A final argument is that he was an MVP, Rookie of the Year, and many time all-star while setting the single-season record for hits so he proved that he was not coasting off of lesser competition in that he was the best hitter in the best professional league in the world for many years despite missing a few years of his prime playing in Japan. So to conclude, in my opinion Ichiro Suzuki should be considered the all-time leader in hits for baseball history.
In the MLB right now the trade deadline is July 31st. After this date teams must place a player on waivers and can only trade a team once a player has cleared waivers. While a player is on waivers any team can “claim” that player if they want to. When a player is claimed from waivers the team can do three things: take back the player, work out a trade with the team who claimed that player, or let the team who claimed him take the player and pay the rest of his salary. Most of the time a team will put all their players through waivers so that they can be eligible to be traded or if they want to dump salary. Teams can trade a player anytime from August 1st through the end of the season using waivers but if a player is not traded before August 31st they cannot play in the postseason. In my opinion the MLB should keep the trade deadline July 31st as it incentivizes teams to hurry up and make trades to avoid having to deal with waivers. I do believe that there should be no deadline for when a player has to be traded to make the postseason. I think that teams should be able to trade up until game 162 as this will create new strategies that GM’s will have to employ over the course of the season.
The matchup in the 2018 World Series pits the Boston Red Sox against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is going to be a matchup between two iconic, big-market teams with the Red Sox having the highest payroll in baseball and the Dodgers having the fourth highest payroll in baseball. The Red Sox are looking to prove their place as one of the best teams in history after a 108 win season while the Dodgers are looking to find redemption after their crushing defeat in Game 7 of the World Series last year. In terms of offense Boston has the advantage as they lead the MLB in runs this past season with the help of MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Now the Dodgers are no slackers on offense finishing 5th in the MLB in runs scored plus they only got part of a season out of trade deadline acquisitions of All-Stars Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. As for starting pitching the advantage would definitely go to the Dodgers as starting pitching in the playoffs is about having star power up front and the Dodgers have plenty of that. Their rotation is fronted by 3-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, phenom rookie Walker Buehler, and Hyun-Jin Ryu who pitched to a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts this year. Buehler has proved that he has ice in his veins with amazing performances in Game 163 against the Rockies and in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Brewers. Kershaw and Ryu have also put in stellar performances this year in the postseason. As for the Red Sox they have a very weakened starting rotation. Their ace Chris Sale has been dealing with many health issues recently, their number two pitcher David Price has infamously has had issues when it comes to pitching in the postseason only getting his first postseason win in the ALCS, and Nathan Eovaldi has looked stellar since coming over to the Red Sox via trade but still has been a league average pitcher most of his career. Look to the starting rotation to be possibly the deciding factor in this series. Now onto the bullpens. Both bullpens for these teams are very even. Both teams have elite closers who have tendencies to be pretty shaky in the postseason with the Red Sox having Craig Kimbrel and the Dodgers having Kenley Jansen. Both teams have very solid middle relievers with the Red Sox being fronted by Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes with the Dodgers being fronted by Pedro Baez and Ryan Madson. I would say these teams bullpens are pretty similar to each other. The last category is the defenses of the two teams and this is where the Red Sox have a huge advantage. The Red Sox have great defenders all over the field. The Red Sox have one of the best defensive outfields of all time with potential gold glovers at every position while the Dodgers outfield is often full of platoon players who are all solid fielders but do not compare to the gold glovers on the Red Sox. When it comes to the infield both teams have solid fielders at every position but none of them would be in the rank of a top fielders. Catcher is where the differences become really apparent as the Red Sox have very good defensive catchers in Sandy Leon and Christian Vasquez while the Dodgers main catcher is Yasmani Grandal whose defensive struggles were put in the spotlight during the NLCS against the Brewers. In my opinion this will be a very close World Series between two very good teams but I have to give a slight advantage to the Red Sox with their lethal offense and phenomenal defense. The Red Sox one weak spot is their pitching but their defense really helps to alleviate this issue and make it not seem as evident as if they didn’t have such a great defense.
If you’ve been paying attention to the free agency market the past few off seasons you may have noticed a growing trend. Each off season the top free agents seem to be taking longer than ever to sign a new contract with a team. It often comes down to the week before spring training starts for these stars to sign with a new team. This is causing many players to miss out on better deals because they waited too long to accept a deal. There are a few factors that are playing into this trend. The first factor is that more and more stars each year are signing big name agents to represent them in their journey through free agency. These agents always try to get the most money they can for their clients and try to sign them to big long-term deals. You would expect this to be great for the players. This brings us to another factor which is teams’ reluctance to sign players to long-term deals. There was a time where most teams if they had the financial capabilities would dish out long-term deals to superstars in their late 20’s or early 30’s in a heartbeat. Many teams are becoming more hesitant to hand out long-term deals to players, especially ones over the age of 30. With recent contract disasters like the ones given to Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, etc., teams are less likely to take the large risk that comes with signing a player to a long-term contract. That is why even the best free agents often are left waiting until right before spring training to sign a contract. Most free agents either end up with a long-term deal with a lot less money than they were hoping for, sign a short deal for a high annual value, or worst case scenario sign a one or two year deal with a team and hope they have better luck in free agency the next offseason. Of course with the recent trends, the odds are not looking in their favor.
In recent years the amount of home runs being hit by Major League batters has increased dramatically. Batters are hitting home runs at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the Steroid Era. This sharp rise has led many people to question if the MLB has secretly been altering baseballs to make them travel faster and further. It has become a growing controversy in the baseball community. While there are definitely signs that point to the MLB changing baseballs so they travel farther, the MLB has never been shy about its desire to change aspects of the game to establish equilibrium between pitching and hitting. At places of high altitude such as Colorado and Arizona the teams that play there have started to use humidifiers to combat the effects of high altitude. The MLB also openly talks about changes such as changing the strike zone and raising or lowering the pitcher’s mound. There is a lot of data available that better explains the recent spikes in home runs. Of recent the average exit velocity on fly balls has increased while it has decreased for ground balls and line drives. This signifies a change in the batters' approach. It shows that the batters are trying to hit the ball harder in the air which accounts for the changes in exit velocity. Another example that shows the change in approach for batters is that the amount of home runs has increased for hitters but as a result the number of hits has decreased and the number of strikeouts has increased. This shows that many batters are now trying to hit more home runs rather than have a high batting average.
There has been a lot of debate over the years about whether or not steroid users should be allowed to enter the Hall of Fame. There are many people on both sides of the argument. Some people believe that steroid users should be allowed into the Hall of Fame because many of the steroid users were the stars of the “Steroid Era” in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, a time in which baseball returned to the spotlight in America. It was a thrilling period in baseball as players were blasting the ball out of the park at rates never seen before in the history of baseball. People love to see homeruns which was the reason the Steroid Era was such a popular era in baseball. There are also the people on the other side who acknowledge that these players cheated and despite bringing the game of baseball back into mass popularity they still broke the rules. I am on the side that believes steroid users should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame. They intentionally broke the rules to get an unfair upper hand on their competition. These players should not be rewarded for blatantly breaking the rules. They knew what they were doing was illegal and still decided to do it. People are not supposed to be rewarded for doing the wrong thing so convicted steroid users thus should not be allowed to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
With the recent discussions of pace of play being a contributing factor to the decreasing popularity of the sport of baseball, the MLB has been toying with the idea of adding in a pitch clock to games with the hopes of speeding up the game. The way it works is that there is a 20 second timer set for every pitch and the pitcher must receive the ball back from the catcher and throw his next pitch in the allotted time period. If the pitcher fails to do so one ball will be added onto the count. This method has been used in college baseball and the minor leagues for a few years now and this year the MLB decided to test it out in spring training. This is a very controversial idea as a lot of people do not like the idea of a pitch clock being implemented in the major leagues. I am one of those people who does not like the idea of a pitch clock. I feel like it is a lazy attempt to fix an underlying problem with the game. In all reality cutting out the wasted time between pitches would only save about twenty minutes a game at most and that will not suddenly convince a lot of new people to start watching the game. The difference between a three-and-a-half-hour game and a three-hour game isn’t what is causing people to not watch baseball as much anymore. Baseball needs to work on identifying the bigger problems with the game rather than just trying to take the easy way out and acting like they are fixing the problems at hand. The main thing that baseball needs to work on is its image. Baseball doesn’t necessarily have the best image when it comes to media portrayal. It is often viewed as a very slow and boring game that a lot of people find too complex and nuanced to understand. In order to get baseball more popular the sport needs to shed its reputation as a boring game and has to find new ways to attract young viewers to cultivate a new generation of baseball fans.
With the MLB draft happening on June 4th we are getting to see the future stars of the MLB and the beginnings of their pro careers. MLB teams will choose between drafting a player out of high school or out of college. There are often pros and cons for drafting players out of either setting. The pros of drafting a player out of high school is they often will be the players with the highest potential and since they are so young they have a lot of time and room to grow. The cons are that sometimes players will choose to go to college than going straight to the pros and often high school players are untested against higher levels of competition so you don’t know how they’ll handle it. The pros of drafting a college player are that they have a lot of experience against higher competition, they tend to reach the majors faster and they are more mature than their high school counterparts. The cons are that they are very close to their potential so what you see is what you’re getting, there is less of a chance for a huge growth in ability. In my opinion it is the state of the team that matters when deciding which type of player they should draft. Teams that are rebuilding should go with high school players as they are in no rush to get Major League help and are trying to find future stars, plus rebuilding teams often get higher drafts picks. Contenders or teams a year or so out of contention should go with players as they are more dependable so you know what you’re getting and they can reach the majors faster and help their major league squads.
It all began with the Tampa Bay Rays. When career closer Sergio Romo opened a game for the Rays on May 19th it set off a trend that would revolutionize the way managers managed games and worked their bullpen. While not every team has committed to using an opener, the rise of bullpen usage has increased significantly. Gone are the days of pitchers being expected to go 7 innings or on average pitching 200 innings a year. The rise of bullpen usage has really shown up in the playoffs this year, especially with the Milwaukee Brewers who came within one game of the World Series. This strategy was used to excess in game 5 when manager Craig Counsell removed starter Wade Miley after one batter, only to go with the bullpen the rest of the way. This was a highly questionable move on the part of Counsell as he would be taxing his bullpen potentially for the rest of the series. That day the move did not pay off as the Brewers paid as the Brewers dropped game 5 but it did pay off when Miley was then able to start Game 6, which the Brewers won. Come game 7 the lethal Brewers bullpen was not able to contain the Dodgers offense and had to watch as LA advanced to their second straight World Series. People will now be left to debate on whether Counsell managed his team brilliantly, taking a fringe playoff team to Game 7 of the NLCS, or if he overmanaged his team and ultimately lead to their downfall. I believe that what Counsell did was a brilliant piece of managing and unfortunately LA just had too much firepower for the Brewers to overcome. Counsell knew going into the series that his bullpen has been his strength so he figured he might as well go all in and use his strength to his advantage to make up for the Brewers lackluster starting rotation. So while I think there are definitely some cases of overmanaging, I think teams with strong bullpens are well off using their strength to their advantage and help them win.
Recently the MLB made a major change to the format of the all-star game in which it went from a game to decide home field advantage in the World Series to essentially an exhibition game. People are very split over whether this was a good move or not. There are some very good arguments for both sides. The people who want to go back to the old format argue that removing a reward from the game removes the players motivation to play their hardest. Also they argue that the team whose league wins the all-star game has stronger competition in their league so they deserve to be rewarded for making it through the World Series. The other side argues that it is only fair that the team with the highest record gets home field advantage because they are the best team. There is also the argument that whether or not your team gets home field advantage should not be based off of one game in which it is mostly players from other teams. Also now the game can be about having fun and can be less serious and over-competitive. In my opinion the MLB should go back to the old format because it rewards the team with the more competitive league and brings back a more competitive aspect so they are closer games with the competitive drive being involved. Also this would incentivize players to play and not skip out on the game cause they don’t feel like participating.
On August 31st the Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world by pulling off a last-minute trade for former MVP Josh Donaldson. This trade helped to fortify the already potent Indians lineup by addressing one of their weak spots which was at third base. This trade caused a lot of controversy though because of the logistics of the trade. Donaldson was on his way back from a calf injury and had been on the DL for a long time and was only reactivated recently. There is a rule that the MLB has that states a player can’t be traded if he is not healthy enough to play. You are not allowed to trade a player who is on the disabled list. While he was technically not on the DL when the trade occurred the Indians immediately placed him back on the DL indicating that he was not healthy enough to play again. Three of the major contenders in the AL complained to the commissioner’s office about how the trade was shady and bending the rules. This is a major deal because Donaldson is the type of impact player that can shape the course of the AL pennant race and if he wasn’t healthy he shouldn’t have been allowed to have been traded before August 31st and since he would’ve been traded after that date it would render him ineligible for the playoffs. I think that this was definitely a shady trade and the Indians probably shouldn’t have been allowed to trade for Donaldson at that time so they shouldn’t be allowed to have him for the playoffs. Unfortunately for other AL playoff teams there isn’t too much that can be done at this point to counteract the trade as it wasn’t “technically” illegal. believe that there should be no deadline for when a player has to be traded to make the postseason. I think that teams should be able to trade up until game 162 as this will create new strategies that GM’s will have to employ over the course of the season.
Please Note: The opinions expressed here are individual opinions and should not be considered the opinions of the organization.
"Baseball was, is and always will be the best game in the world"
- Babe Ruth
In my opinion the team that will win the 2018 World Series is the New York Yankees. I believe that 2018 will be the year that the Yankees will be champions of baseball for the 28th time. There are a multitude of factors that lead me to believe it will be the Yankees who will the World Series. The first reason is based off of the success they had as a team last year. The Yankees were one game away from the World Series last year as they went into Game 6 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros up 3 games to 2. Unfortunately for them they were not able to capitalize on the advantage and dropped the last two games to the Astros. This is not the same Yankees team as last year though. First off this was a very talented but very young team. For many of the key players on this team that was their first time in the playoffs and thus were very inexperienced. Plus last year’s Yankees did not win their division, so they had to make this playoff run as a wild card team. That will most likely not be the case this year as the Yankees have a very good shot of winning their division. Last year the Yankees only finished two games behind the Red Sox for the division title without the help of a full season of mid-year acquisitions Sonny Gray, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. The Yankees look to be set in every aspect of their team. They have a very good rotation with Cy Young contender Luis Severino as the ace, Mashahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray who could be aces on many teams, and finishing off with two very solid pitchers in CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery. Despite all this talent in the starting rotation it actually looks to be the weakest part of this Yankees team. They have a bullpen that features all-star caliber relievers Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Tommy Kahnle. The thing is that despite all these big names none of them are even the best reliever in the Yankees bullpen. That honor would go to Chad Green who quietly pitched his way to a 1.83 ERA in almost 70 innings of work. Having a bullpen this deep puts pressure on many teams because they know they have to score early and often because once you get into the bullpen you have a very small chance of scoring. Last year the Yankees had the second best offense in baseball, scoring 858 runs. Now you would think it would be very difficult to improve a lineup led by AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, Silver Slugger Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius who set a single-season homerun record by a Yankee shortstop, and many other very good hitters. The Yankees did just that by trading for NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton who lead the MLB last year with 59 homeruns. With full seasons from Sanchez and Gregorius plus the addition of Stanton the Yankees look to have a very good chance to challenge the single-season homerun record by a team. All of these factors combine to make the Yankees a favorite to win the 2018 World Series.