Athletics

Why Kyler Murray's 2019 NFL Draft decision makes sense for A's prospect

Why Kyler Murray's 2019 NFL Draft decision makes sense for A's prospect

Kyler Murray's heart appears set on playing football.

The 21-year-old officially declared for the 2019 NFL Draft on Monday, which doesn't completely close the door on a professional baseball career with the A's. But the odds aren't in Oakland's favor.

It makes sense when you really think about it. Murray grew up in Texas, where football isn't just a sport, it's a religion. He's probably dreamed of being an NFL quarterback his entire life. Now, that dream can become a reality.

Murray is projected by some football evaluators to be a first-round draft pick, possibly even going in the top 10. How can he turn down that opportunity?

Murray is a special talent, and he clearly has potential in both baseball and football. But let's be honest. At this point, he's a far better football player than baseball player.

In his last baseball season at Oklahoma, he hit .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 51 games. Those certainly are good numbers, but they're far from great in college baseball.

To put it in perspective, 117 Division I players hit .350 or better last year. Sixty-four players hit at least 15 home runs. While Murray might have an extremely high ceiling in professional baseball, he still must develop a great deal.

That's certainly not his fault. He just hasn't played nearly as much baseball as his peers. Even if Murray did fulfill his potential as a big-leaguer, it likely wouldn't be for at least a few years, as he has a lot of catching up to do.

Meanwhile, on the football field, Murray already is an elite quarterback. He has unbelievable speed and athleticism, not to mention a strong arm. So what if he's 5-foot-9? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn't much taller and has done just fine in the NFL.

Many fans have argued Murray should choose baseball because professional baseball players make more money than football players. That's not necessarily true.

MLB players can make a ton of money but not for several years. Minor-league players make pennies, and young major leaguers earn well under $1 million per year in their first few seasons. The big contracts don't come until much later.

Who's to say Murray definitely will develop into a major-league outfielder? We've seen countless first-round picks fail to materialize the way teams had hoped. Someone can have all the talent and athleticism in the world, but that doesn't mean he can hit a 98-mph fastball or a 12-to-6 curve.

In the NFL, however, first-round picks are paid right away, especially quarterbacks. Last year, Baker Mayfield received a signing bonus of nearly $22 million, and more than $32 million guaranteed after being picked first overall. Fellow top-10 quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen all earned signing bonuses of more than $10 million and were guaranteed over $17 million in their contracts, far more than Murray's $4.66 million signing bonus with the A's.

Of course, Murray's decision really should just come down to which sport he loves more. Unfortunately for the A's, the answer appears to be football. Last month, he was asked if he would rather win a Heisman Trophy or a World Series.

"I'd rather win a Heisman," Murray said.

Maybe we should have listened.

A's legend Dave Stewart describes coronavirus scare, testing process

A's legend Dave Stewart describes coronavirus scare, testing process

Dave Stewart is down 15 pounds, and feeling “about eighty percent” healthy.

All of this part of an illness, which two weeks ago, the former pitcher-turned NBC Sports California A's analyst feared was coronavirus.

“I was very, very much afraid,” Stewart said, who also suffers from asthma.

The 63-year old’s symptoms began while on a baseball business trip in Monclova, Mexico. The return flight to California is when he knew something was wrong, and testing for COVID-19 was imminent.

“Went straight from the airport, to the testing place,” Stewart said. “They didn’t even give me two minutes, rushed me into the tent, put a mask on me. And started the testing.”

That testing, as you might well already know about, is invasive through the nasal cavities.

“Two swabs, up these big tunnels of mine,” Stewart said about the testing process. “They put those things up there, I felt like they were in my brain. One for the flu, the other for the virus.”

Stewart’s breathing and blood pressure were also observed, in addition to an X-ray of his chest region. 

Eight painstaking days later, he received good news: Everything was negative.

But that didn’t stop Stewart from self-quarantining the moment he got home. And for good reason: He has a 93-year old mother and 102-year old step-father.

“If I’m carrying it, and I don’t know it, then I’m responsible for two very elderly people,” Stewart said.

“The people that I could touch, and possibly give this to, and possibly endanger their lives.”

[RELATED: Why Astros serving bans despite hiatus stings for A's fans]

The 1989 World Series MVP is set to resume his role on "A’s Pre and Postgame Live" once baseball resumes. Stewart also was set to have his jersey retired with the A’s on May 23. But that is now inevitably better suited for a later date.

“This is certainly something I can live with, that’s for sure,” Stewart said.

Why Astros' bans ending in 2020 despite MLB hiatus stings for A's fans

Why Astros' bans ending in 2020 despite MLB hiatus stings for A's fans

We're currently in the midst of unprecedented times due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But sports have faced major setbacks, with postponements and cancellations affecting leagues worldwide. MLB has not played a regular-season game, and the date of Opening Day still is undetermined. And yet, the Houston Astros, who were scheduled to face the A’s this week, might get a small break due to the delay.

Former Houston manager AJ Hinch and ex-general manager Jeff Luhnow’s one-year suspensions would be served this year, whether an MLB season is played or not. 

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Thursday, citing a source, that MLB will view both Hinch and Luhnow serving their discipline this year in 2020 because the suspensions were tied to the end of the upcoming postseason.

The league also announced the Astros would lose their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Draft as part of the disciplinary actions, and they also were fined $5 million. 

Astros owner Jim Crane then took an additional step and fired the two. 

With the A’s originally set to face the reigning AL champions this week in Oakland, it would have created many storylines centered around Mike Fiers.

Fiers was the whistleblower who exposed the Astros of their cheating ways during their 2017 World Series run. This subjected him to much scrutiny from fans, but Fiers also was dubbed a hero to those around the game.

For now, the earliest the season could start is around mid-May. That’s in addition to agreement between the league and the MLB Players Association that states the season cannot begin until there are no bans on mass gatherings, no travel restrictions and medical experts have determined games will not post a risk to the health of teams and fans.

The Astros-A’s series could have been the series that set the tone for the rest of the season across the league

[RELATED: What Canha misses most about baseball during hiatus]

It appears that the tone is different now. Not because baseball hasn’t started yet, but Hinch and Luhnow would be getting a free pass in a way. None of us are playing baseball right now. 

That has Hinch and Luhnow waiting around, just like the rest of us.