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MLB Diaries: Casual Thoughts from a Concerned Baseball Pundit

MLB Diaries 2020: Edition 1

By Patrick Gunn

Major League Baseball has hit a massive roadblock. MLB paused the Yankees’ season briefly after the Marlins had an outbreak of COVID-19 on their roster after playing the Phillies, the Bomber’s next opponents. Miami will sit out the next week, while the Yankees made last-minute changes to their schedule and, instead of returning to the Bronx, rushed over to Camden Yards for a two-game set against the Orioles.

The Marlins’ outbreak has put this chaotic season in a new light. Frankly, MLB needs to be stricter about COVID-19 regulations. I know, I know, the players need some semblance of normalcy. Well, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Cases are rising in over half of the states. Several of those states (Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota) are home to MLB franchises.

Look, of course, I want to get sucked into the game like I usually do every summer. I would love to hear crowds of fans chanting compliments and expletives as our heroes dredge through the dog days of summer. I would love to sit back and enjoy Gerrit Cole strikeout a million batters after Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Giancarlo Stanton go back-to-back-to-back.

With that said, 2020 is no normal year (as Evan Davis details here). Major League Baseball is taking a massive risk towards its players’ health by not putting the league inside of a bubble like the NBA, WNBA, and MLS and having players travel. Extra measures need to be taken. So, when teams get positive cases – like the Marlins did on Sunday – they have to cancel games.

MLB did not do that. Nor did they stop the Nationals from playing the Yankees over the weekend even hours after Juan Soto tested positive for the virus. This came after Soto practiced for the team for several weeks.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB are putting the players, coaches, umpires, and other employees at risk by playing games like this. It’s time to take the virus seriously, have a plan, and slow things down.

THIS IS A YANKEES BLOG, PATRICK

Indeed, it is. So, solid first weekend for the Bombers. The Yankees didn’t exactly look pretty – nine runs in three games is tough – but that’s how dangerous the Yankees could be this season. They can win series even if their lineup is shut down for six innings or their bullpen struggles with their command, or if their defense plays sloppily.

That is precisely what happened Sunday. The Nationals had an 84.2-percent chance of winning after Judge struck out in the seventh inning. Washington just needed eight more outs to seal the deal. And then they gave the Yankees an inch in the terms of Gleyber Torres’ home run. Suddenly, manager Davey Martinez pulled Patrick Corbin from his amazing start despite only throwing 75 pitches and dominating the Bombers.

The Yankees turned that inch into a mile. The savages in the box awakened and rallied to defeat the Nationals bullpen.

NEXT TIME, PLAY IT A LITTLE CLEANER

The Yankees can take struggling against a dominant performance like Corbin’s. With that said, Saturday’s loss against Erick Fedde and company, was not as reassuring. The Yankees had faced Fedde twice and yet they struggled to put runs on the board.

After game one, the Yankees were owned by Washington pitching, striking out 17 times in two games with only five walks and 12 hits. The Bombers have hit home runs, but they have also only hit .200 (4-for-20) with runners in scoring position. Stanonian blasts are fantastic, but the Bombers need to be able to consistently score outside of the long ball.

Also, Torres had a rough day at short. His poor throws almost gave Washington a chance to claw back into the game in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. He has not played shortstop in a minute, and Torres did save the Yankees at the plate. However, he needs to sharpen up his defense down the line.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this post did not include a citation to Evan Davis’s column. We apologize for this error.

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