Seattle Mariners

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that Major League Baseball would be making its return. 

According to the official press release, players can start reporting to camp on July 1st, with games to begin on either July 23rd or 24th. 

With much of the season already lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will play a modified 60-game season. 

What will that season look like?

Let's first take a look at some other sports leagues like the NWSL, MLS, and NBA, all of which drastically altered their respective seasons to return to play.

Both MLS and the NWSL will skip traditional "regular season" play, instead choosing to play World Cup style tournaments. Due to having more games in a shorter time frame, MLS has expanded roster size and increased the number of substitutions allowed in-game. Both leagues will have all their teams report on one central location, with all MLS games being played in Orlando, and all NWSL games being played in Utah. 

The NBA will return next month, and like MLS it will be doing so with all its teams meeting in Orlando. The league will return with an eight-game regular season to decide playoff seeding. Teams not currently in the top eight have a small chance to catch up and make the playoffs. Once the "regular season" is done, if the ninth place team is less than four games behind the team in eighth place, than there will be a sudden-death style game to decide who gets the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the playoffs start, it's business as usual for the NBA, with the NBA Finals scheduled for late October. 

As for the MLB, it will look drastically different as well, including some very interesting rules changes. 

Here is what the season will look like:

  • The season will be 60 games in length
  • The proposed schedule will feature mostly divisional play, with remaining games to be interleague games played against the corresponding division. I.E., The AL West will play teams from the NL West
  • Each team will play 10 games against their division rivals, and four games against their interleague opponents
  • Teams will make just one trip to each city it visits. So, for instance, the Mariners could play 10 games against the Angels with a five-game series being played in each city
  • 10 teams will make the playoff, the playoffs will be played as normal

So, for you Mariners fans, we may not know the exact schedule, but we do know who they will play. The Mariners will play 10 games each against the Rangers, Athletics, Angels, and Astros. They will also play four games each against the NL West's Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. 

When teams return to play, the schedule won't be the only difference. There will also be some rule changes and dates to watch:

  • NL teams can now use a Designated Hitter
  • If games go to extra innings, the innings will start with a runner on second base
  • Active rosters will be at 30 for the first two weeks, 28 for the second two weeks, and reduced to 26 players in week five
  • The trade deadline will be August 31st 
  • Players must be with an organization by September 15th to be playoff eligible

The shortest baseball season since 1878 looks to be a fun one. 

Ken Griffey Jr. still hates the New York Yankees-- here's why

Ken Griffey Jr. still hates the New York Yankees-- here's why

Ken Griffey Jr. has had some disdain for the New York Yankees... for a long time.

On Sunday, he explained the reason as to why that is.

Griffey shared a few stories from about 40 years ago when his father, Ken Griffey, Sr., played for the Yankees during MLB Network’s documentary “Junior.”

The story of Griffey and his hatred from the Yankees all started when former Yankees manager Bill Martin had an employee tell Griffey Jr. and his brother, Craig, to pipe down while near the Yankees clubhouse.

Giffey Jr. felt that he was being singled out, as other sons of players were being just as loud.

Another story, Griffey recalled, adds more fuel to the fire.

“I came up to visit my dad and it was just me and him. I got to the ballpark early and I'm sitting in the dugout and the security guard comes over and says, '[Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner] doesn't want anyone in the dugout.' My dad was like, 'What? He's my son.' So he goes, 'Alright, hey go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.' It's Graig Nettles' son taking ground balls at third base,” Griffey Jr. said.

“And at that time, my dad was 38 years old, he's like, 'I ain't fighting this no more. I got somebody a little younger. And a little bit better.’

The documentary shared an archived video of Griffey Jr. signing baseballs for Yankee fans. When one fan asks for Griffey to play for the Yankees, he responded with a quick “No."

If the Yankees were the last team … if they were the only team that gave me a contract … I’d retire.

Griffey Jr. went on to demolish the Yankees in five games, hitting five home runs alongside seven RBIs and an OPS of 1.488 in the series.

His Yankee hatred stuck with him since he was a child, and never let it go.

He never forgot what the organization did to him and how he felt disrespected.

One thing Griffey Jr. did not do was not play his best baseball when it was the Yankees.

Over his career against the Yankees, Griffey Jr. batted .311 with a .987 OPS and 36 home runs.

Ken Griffey Jr. had a very special reason for iconic backwards cap

Ken Griffey Jr. had a very special reason for iconic backwards cap

Ken Griffey Jr. is a Seattle sports icon. 

He's arguably the greatest five-tool player to ever hit the diamond and claims ownership to the sweetest swing in the history of baseball. 

"The Kid"  also created an iconic sports look with his iconic backwards cap. 

https://youtu.be/yv4ASTL9zO4?t=33

In the 90s, millions of kids started to wear their caps backwards just to be like Junior. 

But Junior wasn't trying to be some rebellious trendsetter. Rather, like fans were trying to be like him, he was just trying to be like his hero: His dad. 

Griffey told the story in the latest episode of the Sports Business Radio Podcast:

I wear my hat backwards because my dad had a 'fro and I wanted to wear his hat. If I put his hat on at age six, and he's got an eight and a half (hat size) and I got like a little five, it's not really gonna stay on my head. So I just turned it around because I just wanted to wear my dad's hat.  - Ken Griffey Jr. on his iconic look

"It wasn't like I was trying to be different," said Griffey. "I just wanted to wear my dad's hat. Even now, when I put on my hat, I put it on backwards."

We have all been in Griffey's shoes, or hat in this case, trying to emulate our parents, grandparents, or family members. Trying to be just like the people we look up to. 

But unlike Griffey, not all of us made a brand in the process. 

Griffey became the backwards cap. It was his defining look. A look that he continues to rock to this day.

You talk about being defiant. I belong to a country club here, and I got a letter in the mail that says... 'Keep Forward,' meaning you bill facing forward. So I built hats and it said 'Keep Forward' on the back of it so when I turned it around it said 'Keep Forward.' And I wore it. That's who I am. You're not gonna let me wear my hat backwards? It's not like I'm a slob. It's not like my shirt is untucked. This is who I am." - Griffey on his backwards cap

As Griffey said, the backwards cap is "who I am." But who is Griffey, really? Even at age 50, he is still just a six-year-old kid trying to be like his dad. 
 

Be sure to check out Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

Joel McHale still can’t believe Seattle lost the SuperSonics 

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USA Today Images

Joel McHale still can’t believe Seattle lost the SuperSonics 

He’s an actor, comedian and Seattle native. 

But like all of us, Joel McHale is an avid sports fan with feelings. In a recent episode of The Bridge podcast with host Justin Myers, McHale shared how upset he was when his beloved Seattle SuperSonics were shipped off to Oklahoma City in 2008 by Howard Schultz. 

I’m still mad about the Sonics. I still can’t believe we lost the team. And I’m just to this day like how did that happen? So, go Lakers, go Clippers.

McHale also discussed what it was like growing up in Seattle, how the city has become “unrecognizable” over the years and why he refuses to make fun of Seahawks fans who call themselves a “12,” because he is one.

I did not know about this controversy. I would absolutely say that I was a 12 because I raised the flag and wore the 12, so I hope that’s not too controversial.

To hear more about McHale's acting career, how he’s handling quarantine life and what it was like being a walk on for the University of Washington football team, check out the full The Bridge podcast here

Report: Mariners to cut staff salaries to avoid layoffs

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USATI

Report: Mariners to cut staff salaries to avoid layoffs

COVID-19 has been tough on a lot of businesses around the world, and the business of sports has not been exempt.

Many leagues have canceled or suspended play in an attempt to keep those involved with the sports safe from the virus.

As MLB continues to weigh its options for the 2020 season, teams around the league have to deal with the loss of income that becomes greater with every missed game. 

According to a report from Corey Brock of The Athletic, the Seattle Mariners will cut staff salaries in an attempt to avoid layoffs and furloughs. 

Starting June 1st, the organization will implement a 20 percent cut for baseball operations and field staff who make $60,000 or more. The cuts will last through October.

General manager Jerry Dipoto told The Athletic that the Mariners "wanted to make sure we did the right thing and kept people afloat during a difficult time." Added Dipoto, "Our people understand the need to make adjustments and the responses have been genuinely positive.”

According to Brock's report, "The Mariners’ baseball operations staff met online and were assured no cuts or layoffs would be made before the end of May, if at all. This week, Dipoto and other members of his staff had calls with members of their staff to explain the cuts. He said the news was largely met with a sense of relief, especially with the possibility of layoffs and furloughs off the table for now."

While pay cuts are not ideal, they are the best-case scenario until the game itself returns. It may be less money, but it ensures that those on staff will continue to see paychecks during these trying times. 

According to multiple reports around the league, MLB could be eyeing a July start. 

20 years ago today, we said goodbye to the Kingdome

20 years ago today, we said goodbye to the Kingdome

Today should be Opening Day for MLB teams across the country. 

Instead, it’s #OpeningDayAtHome due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It also happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington being imploded. With that in mind, let’s revisit the history of one of the most controversial and interestingly designed sports facilities that once stood out on the Seattle skyline.

FACTS ABOUT THE KINGDOME

- Opened in March 1976

- Formally known as the King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium

- Home to the Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seahawks (NFL), Sonics (NBA) and Sounders (NASL).

- The project initially budgeted for $40 million in 1968

- Construction began in 1972

- The Kingdome covered 9.1 acres, and used 52,800 cubic yards of concrete. The building contained 443 tons of structural steel. It accommodated 64,722 football fans, 59,623 baseball fans, and 80,000 "personality show" attendees. 

- For 24 years the Kingdome was the destination for fans and revelers attending events as diverse as ball games, revival meetings, and motorcycle races

- The kingdome was imploded on March 26, 2000, one day before its 24th birthday.

The Seahawks spent two seasons playing at Husky Stadium, home to the University of Washington football team. In 2002, the Seahawks moved into CenturyLink Field, formally known as Qwest Field.

[RELATED]: Russell Wilson wants Seahawks to bring back these vintage treads

Seattle played almost all of their home games at the Kingdome from 1976 to 1999, but unfortunately their first game in the Kingdome and last game were both losses. The first was a 27-20 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers in August 1976; the latter was a 20-7 playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins in January 2000. 

The Mariners had a similar start to their Kingdome days on April 6, 1977, when the Mariners lost to the California Angels, 7-0. Seattle spent 22 and a half seasons in the Kingdome.

    According to MLB.com, the Kingdome was considered a hitter's park. The dimensions were short, the ball carried well in the controlled indoor climate (68-72 degrees), and the hard Astroturf field benefited hitters as well. 

    The Mariners moved into Safeco Field, now known as T-Mobile Park, in July 1999.

    Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

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    USA Today Images

    Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

    COVID-19 has hit the Pacific Northwest. 

    At least 10 people from Washington State have died from what is better known as the coronavirus. Some schools and public events have closed or been cancelled amid concerns of the outbreak and further spread, and sporting events could be next. 

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Seattle Morning News on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM on Thursday and acknowledged the spread of the coronavirus could have an impact on sports in the state. 

    “We are starting to consider that and have been now for some period of time,” Inslee said. “So, what we are doing is evaluating the legal requirements that are involved in making a decision like that and we are socializing people to the possibility of that.”

    Inslee said they have currently not made any decisions to limit public events, including sporting events, but it could be a measure the state could eventually implement. 

    “It would be a hierarchy of things. The first thing would be to legally prohibit gatherings over a certain number. That can be done by the emergency powers by the governor in statute. To talk about things that are not necessary in our lives, meaning entertainment and sports and political gatherings, I suppose, that are not intrinsic to our economy or our education.”

    Washington events that could be impacted

    If the state did choose to shut down sporting events in Washington State, it would have an effect on a number of major sports teams. The Seattle Mariners, for example, are set to begin the MLB season with a seven-game homestand beginning on March 26. 

    "Currently, we are following guidance from public health authorities and our medical staff to provide training and resources to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff and provide a safe and sanitary facility for the start of the season in four weeks,” the Mariners said in a statement. “This is an evolving situation and we’ll continue to keep fans updated by email, social media and our website."

    The Seattle Dragons have three more games at CenturyLink Field this season on March 15, March 22 and April 11. Spokane, Washington is also scheduled to host the first and second-round of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament March 19-21.

    Some basketball games around the Seattle area have already been effected. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as Chicago State, announced its men’s team would not travel to Seattle University because of coronavirus concerns. 

    While the Seattle Sounders are scheduled to host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, there has been no indication that the game won’t go on as planned. The team’s MLS season opener against Chicago Fire FC continued to draw large crowds. Sounders goalie Stefan Frei was seen signing autographs and personal items for fans. 


    “Sounders FC is part of both a regional task force and Major League Soccer’s task force to monitor this developing situation,” the club said in a statement. “As matters evolve and more information becomes available, we will continue to provide relevant details to the public.”

    The Seattle Sounders next games at home are against Columbus Crew on March 7 and FC Dallas on March 21. 

    Oregon prepares

    Just 174 miles south on the I-5 corridor, the Portland Trail Blazers are also taking precautions to keep their players safe. The NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams advising players to avoid high-fives and offer fist-bumps when interracting with fans.

    Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum took to Twitter to let fans know he would not be signing autographs until further notice. 

    "You just have to be careful," McCollum told NBCS Northwest. "Obviously, it’s affecting people, especially who are displaying weaker immune systems, people over 60. Wash your hands; try to reduce contact with outsiders and outside germs."

    The Blazers have 19 games remaining in the regular season, including 11 at home, over the final six weeks of the season. 

    “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep guests informed of any changes to scheduled events at Moda Center or Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” the Trail Blazers’ statement said. "We have increased the frequency of disinfecting high touchpoint areas on campus, provided additional hand sanitizing stations, switched to anti-bacterial soap and have distributed informational preventative health flyers throughout the campus."

    The Portland Timbers hosted their season-opener on Sunday night against Minnesota and will play their next match on March 8 at Providence Park. The team says they will continue to monitor COVID-19 concerns. 

    “The Timbers have a very robust and thorough housekeeping program in place at Providence Park," the Timbers said in a statement. "We have bolstered our efforts by installing additional hand sanitizing stations and deploying a crew to disinfect surfaces throughout every match night. We encourage fans to wash their hands frequently, and if not feeling well, please stay home. We remain in close contact with local and national health authorities and are monitoring the situation closely.”

    The Moda Center will also be home to 2020 NCAA women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds, which will be played on March 28 and 30. The West Regional will draw fans and teams from across the country. 

    Extra hand sanitizer stations and increased cleaning procedures have been implemented at the Rose Quarter to educate spectators about preventative health. 

    While many sporting events in the Pacific Northwest have not been canceled, moved or postponed yet, the ramifications of the coronavirus have disrupted other areas of the world.

    Club soccer in Italy will be held without spectators until at least April 3, while Switzerland suspended games until March 23 as club's refused to play in front of stadiums without fans. China's World Cup qualifying games have been moved to Thailand and the LPGA Tour canceled its events in China, Singapore and Thailand in February and March. 

    A 'step-back season' for the Seattle Mariners? Not so fast...

    A 'step-back season' for the Seattle Mariners? Not so fast...

    Teardown, rebuild, reimagine. These were all words used to describe the future of the Seattle Mariners when Seattle made nine trades this offseason, shedding itself of lofty salaries and hefty contracts.

    But fast forward half a year and the phrase "step-back season," that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto coined to describe the 2019 season has all but dissipated, Seattle is off to its best start in club history. 

    That was a surprise.

    The M’s just can’t stop hitting home runs and they’ve racked up a monster 98 runs for an average of 8.2 runs per game. With a 13-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Mariners now have the best record in baseball to this point in the year.

    Edwin Encarnación hit two home runs during an eight-run sixth inning against Kansas City, two of the five homers hit in the game. 

    Seattle now has 32 home runs—the most of any team in MLB in the first dozen games. The Mariners didn’t hit 32 homers until their 26th game of the season last year.

    Domingo Santana, who hit 30 home runs and stole 17 bases for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, has been a key player for the Mariners this season. The outfielder has 19 RBI’s through 12 games, the most in the AL, tying a Major League lead with Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger. Jay Bruce (6), Tim Beckham (4) and Encarnación (4) have all provided a spark for the home-run happy Mariners.

    So, are the Mariners the real deal? In this moment, the answer is yes.

    The Astros are still the favorites to win the AL West, but the Mariners are definitely the team to watch. 

    MLB Ballpark improvement disputes may provide more targets for Portland Diamond Project

    MLB Ballpark improvement disputes may provide more targets for Portland Diamond Project

    As the Portland Diamond Project continues to close in on a location for a site for its mixed-use development that would include a major-league ballpark as its centerpiece, the list of potential targets for a team in Portland may be growing.

    Two existing major-league cities are in the process of attempting to get government funding for ballpark improvements. Part of negotiations for such things almost always comes down to teams threatening to leave their stadiums for something better.

    And as the PDP gains increasing credibility as a future destination for a team, expect this city to be used as leverage in negotiations in other cities with stadium issues. It's beyond the control of the Diamond Project and simply the way these things tend to play out.

    And that may not be a bad thing for Portland. Not all those teams will get what they want and at a certain point, they may have their bluff called – and decide to move. And at the same time, any city providing leverage for existing teams would be looked upon favorably by Major League Baseball as a future expansion site.

    To date, it was presumed that Portland has four opportunities for procuring a team – the two potential expansion franchises and the troubled franchises in Oakland and Tampa.

    But don’t be surprised to hear this city mentioned as a possible relocation site for the Arizona Diamondbacks and – what? – the Seattle Mariners.

    There are serious stadium-improvement issues with the latter teams.

    In Seattle, the team’s lease at Safeco Field expires at the end of this season and the Mariners are asking King County for a substantial sum for ballpark improvements.

    The Seattle Mariners have issued an ultimatum: Give them $180 million in taxpayer money for their 19-year-old stadium, or they won’t sign a long-term lease.

    And in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks have already negotiated their way out of  longer-term lease to one that expires in 2022 – coincidentally a year when it’s figured the Portland ballpark would be ready for occupancy.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks can leave Chase Field and end the team's 20-year residence at the downtown Phoenix stadium as early as 2022, Maricopa County leaders decided Wednesday.

    The expectation is that both disputes will be settled without relocation of the franchises... but faced with a lucrative option in a fresh city, it would be difficult to know what to expect from ownership of those teams.

    PDP leaders have promised that they will use no public money for stadium construction other than what has already been set aside by the Oregon state legislature.

    The ballpark in Portland is expected to include a large-scale mixed-use development that includes housing, entertainment and dining options and hotels. The Diamond Peoject is still looking at multiple sites but is expected to make a decision on a location soon.