White Sox

Government edicts could force baseball delay to last deep into summer

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USA TODAY

Government edicts could force baseball delay to last deep into summer

When will the Major League Baseball season start?

Obviously, as the world continues fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, that is a question without an answer.

But recent moves by local governments across North America could point to the delay of the 2019 campaign lasting deep into the summer.

The recent agreement between the league and the union established criteria for when the season would be able to start, among them, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, that there would be no governmental edicts on mass gatherings that would prevent teams from playing in their home stadiums.

Well, hopes of an early June start could end up being impacted by that criteria, with the city of Toronto on Tuesday canceling all city-led events through the end of June. It was initially believed that could include more than 40 scheduled home games for the Blue Jays. It does not. But the move shows that cities across the continent are showing concern that social-distancing measures might need to stay in place for months.

In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Monday issued a stay-at-home order that lasts until June 10. There are no major league teams in Virginia, of course, but as more such orders are issued by local governments, it might not be long before a city or state with a major league team is impacted.

Though not as concrete as a stay-at-home order, California Governor Gavin Newsom said earlier this month that social distancing in his state could last as long as 12 weeks, which from when he made that statement would be June 16. California is home to five major league teams.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday extended our state's stay-at-home order to April 30.

As of this writing, Major League Baseball has put no date on how long its delay could last. The most recent announcement by the league committed to following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which at the time was the banning of gatherings of at least 50 people until mid May.

Now, the agreement between the league and the union also included the possibility that games could be played away from teams' home stadiums — perhaps at spring training facilities or neutral sites — if there were no better options. That could include making special arrangements for a team that plays its home games in a city that was particularly affected by the pandemic while other parts of the country or continent were able to start hosting such events.

If local governments in North America make decisions that impact the return of pro sporting events, it could make it difficult for the baseball season to start as soon as hoped.

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Tim Anderson calls out Brad Keller's 'excuses,' reminds him 'I'm on yo ass'

Tim Anderson calls out Brad Keller's 'excuses,' reminds him 'I'm on yo ass'

Tim Anderson has seen what Brad Keller has to say. And he’s not having it.

Keller recently made an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast and was asked all about his intentional plunking of Anderson following the White Sox star shortstop’s bat flip heard ‘round the baseball world last year.

Keller, as was made clear when he threw at Anderson as apparent punishment for breaking the unwritten rule of “no celebrating allowed,” was not a fan.

“How he acted after (hitting the home run), to me and my whole team, was just over the top,” Keller said. “It's like, 'Bro, you hit a homer. Congrats.' This wasn't a Game 7 homer. This wasn't a playoff homer. This wasn't even a homer to win the game. Ultimately, we won the game, 3-2, in the long run, but that gets kind of lost in the whole transaction of everything.

“It just seemed like, at the time, it was an April home run. 'Why are you throwing your bat to the dugout or whatever?' We had beefs in the past, as far as our teams, and that was just like fuel on the fire, basically, is what it seemed like.

“I was upset because I was grinding that day and I was already pissed off at myself, and then you pull some s**t like that? It was like, 'All right, this is bulls**t.' ... I come in, and I'm pissed, I'm hot. And I had other guys on the team like, 'Screw this guy,' basically. Like I said, we (the Royals) had beefs (with Anderson) in the past.”

RELATED: Tim Anderson and the Royals stir up baseball's never-ending debate: 'You want him to not do that? Get him out'

Well, Anderson — on a quest to break what he called baseball’s “have fun barrier” — isn’t about to apologize. In fact, he let Keller know that he isn’t going anywhere.


Major League Baseball and the players’ union seem to have a big divide to bridge on economic and health-and-safety issues if there’s going to be a 2020 season. But if baseball returns this year, Anderson will likely have another chance to swing against Keller.

To be fair, he had a few more after getting plunked April 17. Keller faced the White Sox three more times after that game, which was already his second start of the season against the South Siders. Anderson played in just one of those games and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Should the league’s proposed altered schedule for a shortened 2020 season become a reality, the White Sox and Royals would square off 13 times during the regular season, plenty of opportunity for the reigning big league batting champ to test out a few new flips.

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MLB rumors: Marcus Stroman a potential White Sox target come free agency?

MLB rumors: Marcus Stroman a potential White Sox target come free agency?

In this jumbled-up baseball calendar, it shouldn’t be surprising that free-agent rumors are starting to fly before the 2020 season has even started. In May.

Free agency could be one of the many things that looks way different than we’re used to due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With teams expected to see a steep decline in revenue without paying customers in the stands this year, free-agent spending could take a hit.

But there are certain to be free agents, nonetheless, and after a busy round of free agency last offseason, could the White Sox be active again? That will depend a great deal on how a 2020 season plays out and whether it exposes any needs as the team attempts to make its leap into contention mode.

Already, though, they’re being speculated as a team that could jump into the bidding for free-agent-to-be Marcus Stroman, starting pitcher for the New York Mets.

Jim Bowden, the former general manager now working for The Athletic and CBS Sports, said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the White Sox ended up as one of the teams, along with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, with interest in Stroman when he hits the market after the 2020 campaign.

Now, the White Sox just inked Dallas Keuchel to a big free-agent contract last winter and hope they can fill out the rest of their rotation with some of the high-ceiling arms at both the major league and minor league levels.

Lucas Giolito figures to have a rotation spot on lockdown for the foreseeable future after emerging as an All Star and the ace of the staff in 2019. The team has high hopes for Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech, who have made only a combined 18 big league starts. Reynaldo Lopez remains an option if he can solve his issues with consistency, and Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert are all on the mend from Tommy John surgery and could factor into those starting-pitching plans.

RELATED: Top 20 MLB Draft prospects: Who will White Sox pick at No. 11?

The 29-year-old Stroman, though, could offer some more security — and certainly some more big league experience — should those unknowns stay unknowns once the White Sox get to the offseason. His results have fluctuated somewhat from season to season. He was excellent for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, with a 3.09 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 33 starts, winning a Gold Glove and finishing in the top 10 of the AL Cy Young vote. The following season, in just 19 starts, his ERA was up over 5.50.

But last season, he bounced back again, making the All-Star team thanks to a sub-3.00 ERA in 21 starts with the Blue Jays before being dealt to the Mets, where he posted a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts.

Bowden pointed out that the Mets likely wouldn’t being willing to pay Stroman, much like they let Zack Wheeler walk last offseason. The White Sox attempted to bring Wheeler aboard on a big-money free-agent deal, but he turned down their richer offer to pitch closer to home with the Philadelphia Phillies.

If the White Sox were interested in Stroman, they might be smart to run it by star shortstop Tim Anderson. The two had a tiff of sorts during a 2017 game, with Anderson stepping out of the batter’s box during an at-bat, ruffling Stroman’s feathers and leading to some on-field jawing that caused the benches to clear on the South Side.

“Just the way he carried himself, I felt like I felt disrespected,” Anderson said. “I had to do what I had to do. Just, when I stepped out when he was going slowly, he said a few words. I kind of let it go, and then after he struck me out, he mumbled something else.

“He’s going to try to throw me off, so why not step out and try to throw him off? It was one of those things, I stepped out and he just complains and cries like he always does. That’s what it led to.”

But winning has a way of dissolving any bad blood, and if the two ended up teammates on a team with the ability to win a division and compete for a World Series, it seems something like that could be easily forgotten.

Depending on how things shake out this year, and what state the starting rotation is in come winter, maybe Stroman could be a consideration for Rick Hahn’s front office.

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