As I reflect on the past week of baseball, I have some perspectives on what has and is taking place:
Mookie Betts – (I note below that the Mookie Betts trade has stalled, but the following are still my feelings about the Red Sox, a big market team, trading away their young superstar.) I understand the argument that no matter what they did, the Red Sox felt they would not be able to re-sign Mookie Betts so it was better to trade him. I get it. Still, that just seems like an easy excuse for trading him. I also understand the argument that it’s not bad for baseball when teams trade great young talent to other teams to make those other teams better. The trade was great for the Dodgers and their fans. In that light, the trade isn’t bad for “baseball.” But, it was bad for the game. It was. The Red Sox got pennies on the dollar for one of baseball’s premier players. And it’s very hard to argue that the Red Sox didn’t trade Betts (and David Price) just to save money. It is not good for baseball when big market teams like the Red Sox sell off their best parts as cost-cutting measures. Mookie Betts is a star. He’s a young star. He should be one of the greats of the game for a long long time. No team should have to sell of their stars in this fashion, but it is especially egregious when one of the biggest markets does this. The Red Sox are a franchise that should be investing in their greatness. It’s not good for the game when the best teams, the most lucrative teams, sell off their best players in cost-cutting measures. It’s a slap in the face to the fans, the city, and more – the people who invested their time, energy, hearts, and money into the team. For those reasons, the Mookie Betts trade is bad for baseball.
UPDATE – It seems the Betts deal has hit a snag days after it was announced. This is an even bigger problem. Talk about embarrassing – teams backing out, changing their minds, and such. What a mess. I am sure the particulars will be worked out, I am sure Mookie Betts will eventually be traded, but…what a mess. This has been a terrible off-season for the Red Sox.
Yankees Should Go Big – If the Market for a star like Mookie Betts is pennies on the dollar, the Yankees should, absolutely, leverage their abundant wealth and resources to acquire the top-flight talent that is supposedly on the trading block. If Nolan Arenado truly is available, get him. If Francisco Lindor can be had, get him. If Mookie Betts can be traded for such a small package…the Red Sox got an outfielder and a pitcher for Mookie Betts and David Price and on top of that, the Red Sox threw cash into the deal. They not only gave the Dodgers their best young player, they added cash to the deal! (“I’d like to trade my Ferrari for your Dodge, but to make the deal even better, I’ll throw in some cash.”) If that’s the cost for acquiring the best talent in the game, the Yankees should go all out and make the big trades. Don’t just get Lindor. Don’t just get Arenado. Get them both. Why not? Make the Yankees into a video game team. Get the best available players. Get them all.
More on the Cheating – The cheating scandal continues to break with more and more revelations. Each day new players speak out about the situation. It will be the never-ending story of Spring Training. As each player and executive arrives, they’ll be asked, “What did you think about the Astros cheating?” This will continue all season long – before each team plays the Astros, both at home and away. Pete Rose even got into the act asking for reinstatement. He reasoned if the Astros players got away with cheating, why not forgive his own baseball sins? Major League Baseball and the Commissioner’s Office did a terrible job with this investigation and with the consequences handed out. The rumors about this scandal have been out there for years. It was ignored. The players were given immunity to just be honest. With more time investigating, and a more thorough investigation, all of this information would have come out. Much of the information came out anyway, just from sources outside of baseball, such as on Twitter and through other investigative reports. The Commissioner rushed to a decision, letting the players off without any punishment. He did this, I assume, to try to make the whole scandal go away. It was the easy way out and it made a bigger mess of a huge problem. It was the wrong approach. Instead of this all going away, it is going to come up again and again as new information comes out. The players would have been better to face a suspension and move on. By baseball pretending the problem wasn’t as big as it is, they made the problem even bigger. In the end, allowing players who blatantly cheated to get away without any consequences is ludicrous at face value. What a terrible message baseball has sent. No one trusts the Astros. Now most don’t even trust he sport and decision makers who run the sport. What a mess. The Commissioner should re-open the investigation based upon all of this new information and meet out appropriate consequences to restore faith in the game.
The 5th Starter – I don’t think the Yankees have anything to worry about with the fifth starter competition. The easy, and correct, decision is to just add Jordan Montgomery to the mix. Mark my words, J.A. Happ will have a fine season this year. James Paxton should be back in a few months… until he’s ready, in Montgomery, the Yankees have a very able replacement.
The 2020 Topps Cards – Staring in a little over a week, we’re going to open a new pack of the 2020 Topps cards each day and show some of the more interesting cards on the blog. Ethan and I will do this as we open the packs across the miles since he’s away at college. We’ll share the fun cards, some stars, and the cards of the Yankees, each day in a post.
This year’s cards are very nice, and it’s always fun to open new packs of cards, but as I looked at the cards, one thought immediately crossed my mind, “Isn’t this the same design as last year…and the year before?” It seems that the creativity in card design has been forgotten about or pushed aside. The cards are great, the pictures clear and crisp. These are very nice baseball cards, but like so many recent years, the cards feature a full-sized photo with an overlay of sorts that is very similar to previous year’s design. Since Topps continues to use this full picture approach, it makes it very difficult to differentiate between each year’s sets. In the “old days” each successive season’s set had a very distinctive design. That’s no longer the case. The differences between each year’s series is a nuance. There is a “sameness’ to each… a small computer graphic and a big photo. I’d like for Topps to go back to creating original designs around the photos again. It added more to the whole experience. See the graphic below. For me, at least, it’s very hard to differentiate between each year’s set. It’s time for Topps to go back to creating an original design each year. The full-size photos are actually less appealing than the way they used to design cards.