Giants

Why Evan Longoria is hesitant about reported new MLB playoff format

Why Evan Longoria is hesitant about reported new MLB playoff format

Don't count Evan Longoria among the die-hard fans of MLB's reported playoff expansion plans.

The New York Post reported last week that the American and National Leagues each could have seven playoff teams as soon as 2022, allowing the division winner with the second-best record in both leagues to pick from the three wild-card teams as an initial opponent. Longoria isn't opposed to more teams making the postseason, but he wants to ensure such a change would make more teams try to compete. 

"It doesn't really grab me," Longoria told KNBR's Mark Willard on "The Hot Stove Show" on Monday. "I've never thought that more playoff teams is a bad thing, but I've read [some players' criticism and] I still think the baseball season is set up in such a way that the best teams make the playoffs. [There's] so many games that teams that are not good, they don't last. You saw with [the Washington Nationals] last year. They were not good in the beginning and figured out a way. ... So, I don't think that more playoff teams is a bad thing, I just think that we need to obviously incentivize teams to continue to spend money and bring on veteran players and let the best players play, and not have teams that are just losing on purpose and trying to get draft picks."

Longoria is right to be concerned. Four teams lost at least 100 games last season, matching an MLB record. Under the reported format, teams with 86, 85 and 84 wins, respectively, would've made the playoffs in 2019. 

This week, the Boston Red Sox officially traded superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers under the guise of "payroll flexibility." When one of the richest franchises in the sport trades one of the sport's best players at a time the sport is raking in record revenue -- all in an effort to avoid tax payments that amount to a drop in the bucket -- what does that say about the rest of the sport? 

As long as teams are trying to contend, Longoria's in favor of more playoff teams. He's not worried about the expanded bracket diminishing the regular season, either. 

If anything, Longoria believes it should be shorter. 

"I think the season's too long," Longoria told Willard. "This is gonna be my 13th season now. Do I really think that if you shortened the season 20 games that s--ttier teams are gonna be in the postseason? Excuse my language. No, 130, 140 games -- it really weeds out the bad teams. So, make spring training shorter, make the season shorter. I think all those things are good things."

[RELATED: How Cahill's versatility fits in with Giants' 2020 plans]

MLB won't have a shorter regular season, or an expanded postseason, until 2022 at the earliest. The collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2021 season, and MLB players' vocal reactions to the reported playoff proposal indicated it could be a point of contention when the players association and MLB come to the negotiating table. 

Should the changes encourage more teams to field competitive rosters, Longoria could come around on it. 

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

If you're going through withdrawals without baseball, there might be some good news for you.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday, citing sources, that MLB and the players' association are working on a plan that would eventually lead to the 2020 season starting sometime in May, with all games being played in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

No specific date in May was given, but Passan reported that the plan being worked on has the approval of "high-ranking federal public health officials."

The start of the 2020 season was delayed March 12 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to Passan, players, coaches and essential team personnel would be isolated at hotels in Arizona, and would only allowed to go back and forth between the hotel and the stadiums.

Passan reported, citing sources, that players appear to be skeptical of the idea of separating from their families for four-plus months.

Former A's pitcher Brett Anderson doesn't appear to be a fan of being separated from his family.

As you might expect, this plan is far from a certainty, and Passan reported, citing sources, that some officials believes a June start date for the season is more realistic.

In an interview with KNBR 680 on Friday, Giants CEO Larry Baer said he believes the idea of putting all 30 teams in Arizona might be the best option.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Baer said. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

It remains to be seen if the league and the players' association can clear all the hurdles to make this happen, but at the very least, it's a glimmer of hope for those craving to watch live baseball again.

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

It seems like just about every no-hitter includes that moment that turns a teammate into the game's second star. Gregor Blanco will forever be a big part of Matt Cain's perfect game, and Hunter Pence's diving catch was a memorable moment during Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter. 

But when Lincecum no-hit the Padres again a season later, there was very little drama. Nobody had to dive or leap over the top of the wall. Lincecum cruised, dominating the Padres with an onslaught of sliders -- he threw 40 of them and got 13 outs -- and inducing soft contact all afternoon. He calmly and efficiently put his name back in the record books. 

The second no-hitter in under a year made Lincecum one of just four pitchers since 1961 to pull that off. He joined Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers with multiple Cy Young Awards and multiple no-hitters, and Lincecum and Koufax are the only two who also have multiple World Series titles, as well.

It was a day that added one last highlight to one of the greatest runs in franchise history. "It was the Tim Lincecum show," Bruce Bochy said on June 25, 2014. "He really was an artist out there."

The show will re-air tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. As you watch, here are five things you might have forgotten about Lincecum's second no-hitter ...

Dual Threat

Lincecum truly was a remarkable athlete, although that rarely showed in other facets of the game. He was a smooth runner but not one of those pitchers that you would ever consider as a pinch-running weapon. And while he would occasionally get in a groove during BP, he never homered in a game and batted just .112 as a big leaguer. 

Lincecum had five multi-hit games, and one happened to come on this day. He singled in the third and again in the seventh, by which point the whole crowd knew what was at stake. When he met with reporters the next day, Lincecum admitted he watched highlights after the game, but not of his pitches.

"I watched the replay of my hits," he said. "I was really pumped about those, to be honest with you. I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't. I watched those quite a bit."

He Threw It With a Stache

One of the funniest parts about Lincecum's Giants career was that he often showed up to FanFest with an all-new look. No joke, reporters and cameramen would scramble to get a good spot in front of Lincecum's podium every February, knowing there was a decent chance you would have to send a photo out via Twitter right away.

One year, I sent out a FanFest photo and a couple hours later saw that it had been picked up by the New York Post. 

The 2014 tweak was one of the best. Lincecum showed up with a mustache, amusing his teammates and fans. 

The caterpillar was still going strong when he pitched his second no-hitter. 

(Sidebar: If you're not using shelter in place to experiment with a sweet stache, you're making a mistake.)

Memorable Defensive Day

This is one day that's missing from those #BusterHugs montages, because Posey played first base that day since it was a day game after a night game. He went 4-for-4 and drove in two of the runs.

That meant Hector Sanchez, 24 at the time, got to guide Lincecum through the day and sit on the podium with him afterwards. 

The final out was recorded by Joe Panik, who was making his fourth career start. 

No Time for Jinxes

Linecum was on second base during a pitching change in the seventh inning and he jogged over to the dugout, fist-bumping reliever Juan Gutierrez and chatting with third base coach Tim Flannery. Lincecum was about the last pitcher who would ever worry about the game's traditions, and he spent the final innings chatting it up with teammates. 

Asked later why he didn't sit by himself like most starters working on a no-hitter, Lincecum said, "It's more awkward when they don't talk to you than when they do." That makes a lot of sense, actually.  

Lincecum was carefree that entire day. At one point, the cameras caught him mimicking his own running style in the dugout:

Timmy Being Timmy

One of the main reasons Lincecum became such a fan favorite was how relatable he was. He would forget that the mic was live during on-field interviews with Amy Gutierrez. He would talk openly about how much he could eat at In-N-Out. There were other indulgences that were well known and fit in with the city he played in. 

So it wasn't much of a surprise when Lincecum smiled when a reporter asked how he would celebrate. 

"I'm going to go to my house and drink a little bit," he said. "Can I say that?"