Phillies

'It will ruin the game' — 8 opinions on the impact of baseball's stalemate

'It will ruin the game' — 8 opinions on the impact of baseball's stalemate

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday night that he's no longer confident there will be a 2020 season, walking back his comment last week that he was "100 percent" sure baseball would be played.

This, on the day Spring Training 2 should have begun.

In reality, Manfred is not speaking for himself but for the 30 owners he represents. It seems pretty clear that Manfred's comments Monday were designed to restart negotiations with the union, yet again. As in ... it's more posturing. It's all posturing. Neverending posturing. Posturing has become one of the six tools.

What is the point of a commissioner in any sport if they fail to protect the game against the harm being done to it? We call these commissioners figureheads all the time, but if the commish is going to act solely as the personal protector for owners no matter what, then what are we even doing here? Why even title that position "commissioner?" Just call it the Steward of Billionaires or something.

Maybe these owners think that fans will forget and just be happy for the return of baseball if it goes away for a year and comes back. If they do, they are mistaken.

Here is what some of our other baseball people had to say:

Phillies insider Jim Salisbury:

This whole thing is repulsive. Baseball is supposed to be a social institution, and in these times, we need it more than ever to set an example of how to get along, not squabble over money when both sides already have plenty of it.

Over the past couple of years, I've heard a lot of dissatisfaction in clubhouses with the last collective bargaining agreement that the union agreed to. Management took a stern tone with its first offer to bring the game back weeks ago and all that did was galvanize the players in their resolve not to accept anything less than a 100 percent prorate of their salaries and create bad blood. Now, you wonder if that resolve and bad blood will lead the players to strike next summer before the CBA expires. 

It's clear the owners are losing revenues and will continue to do so with no fans in the stands, but news of a new billion-dollar TV deal makes it difficult to muster too much sympathy for them. And why is management, when it thinks it's doing the right thing, trying to prevent a union of all things from filing a grievance? Are they afraid something might come out in the legal wash that they'd prefer to keep under wraps?

Not giving the players what they want and playing some type of season might be pennywise and pound foolish for the MLB business as a shutdown would seriously hurt all sides in the long run. The union is clinging to the idea that it was told players would be paid a 100 percent prorate when the season got going. MLB says it informed the union that it maintained the right to renegotiate those terms if games were played with no fans in the stands.

Why was there such ambiguity in this from the beginning? Sounds like there was a communication problem long ago and now the commissioner is backtracking from his vow to play. At least he got one thing right. This is a disaster. 

Phillies pre/postgame live analyst Ricky Bottalico:

Pathetic. This is just depressing. It will ruin the game.

They cannot continue to argue this through the media. When I played and we had a labor dispute, arguments were made through the media but thousands of people couldn't instantly react to it like they do now with social media. It fans the flames.

There's just too much crap going on in the world right now for this.

2008 Phillies documentary producer Brian Brennan:

It's easy to pile on Manfred, but the commissioner simply does the bidding for MLB's owners, who seem perfectly content to let him take the social media bullets for this standoff with the players.

If the owners want the fans to understand their side of the issue, they need to lay out the financial situation. They need to show everyone how much money they'd be losing by playing games without fans in the stands. There are reports that the league would lose more than $600,000 for each game played without fans in the stands. Show us that.

Phillies pre/postgame live host Michael Barkann:

Do the owners (OK, and the players) realize that fans will not return to the game? Do they remember 25 years ago that they failed to return in 1995 when baseball resumed after the 1994 strike? That year, 47 games, the playoffs and the World Series were canceled for the first time since 1904. 

In 1995 when baseball returned? Attendance fell an average of nearly 6,000 persons per game — about 20% below the season before. The owners might beg for a 20% dip by the time fans are eventually allowed back in the stands.

Phillies digital video editor Spencer McKercher:

I've had friends, all under the age of 25, telling me they're done with the sport and how no matter what, they won't come back. That's going to continue if this doesn't get resolved. There's no hiding who is right and who is wrong in this situation.

Brennan:

The owners can actually gain long-lasting devotion from fans by playing a season despite the financial losses. They risk significantly greater losses in the future if baseball doesn't return. 

Right now, they are losing the PR battle by refusing to explain their case to the fans.

Phillies pre/postgame live producer Sean Kane:

I think there will still be a 2020 MLB season. My read on the current state of negotiations is that the owners are trying to buy some more time so they can play as few games as possible, which in turn limits the amount of money they'll lose without fans in the ballpark. 

Think about that logic. The owners want to play as few games as possible. Talk about alienating your fanbase. Considering what is going on in the world, the lack of awareness from MLB right now is nothing short of staggering. They are squandering a golden opportunity to be at the forefront of the healing process.

Longtime Phillies producer Casey Feeney:

I was sure my words would be laced with anger. But then they weren't. 

While I see what most of you see and what my co-workers have correctly stated above, I choose to stand in the driveway a little while longer, boombox-over-head, awaiting a change in baseball's heart.

It still might just heal itself so that it can play a small role in our collective healing. 2020 has been as trying a year as this 35-year old can remember. Cynicism rules the day and for good reason. It's simple, and perhaps truthful in these times, to say baseball is not important. But it is meaningful. It's the game of the optimist.

Salisbury:

The two sides need to set a Friday 3 p.m. deadline to work out a deal. Lock the room, hammer it out. Stop trying to win the deal and start trying to make a deal. For the good of the game.

Remember what that means?

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Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Watch Phillies Alec Bohm's loved ones' amazing reaction to his first career at-bat

Phillies star prospect Alec Bohm made his major league debut at third base on Thursday night, a pretty big moment for the future of the organization. 

Things went wrong basically all night for the Phils - of course! - but the 24-year-old managed to smack his first career at-bat down the third base line for a double, quite a way to begin a career.

While his parents and girlfriend couldn't be in attendance at Citizens Bank Park because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they were certainly watching. And, thanks to technology, we can watch their reactions to Bohm's first hit.

Here's what an MLB debut hit looks like in 2020:

Man, that's just the best. 

So much to love in a 41-second clip - Bohm's dad keeping his cool and noting the double; his mom's absolute exuberance; his girlfriend commenting on Bohm's smile - but my favorite part is the quote from his mom at the very end.

"Go baby go!"

Fantastic.

After an otherwise brutal night for the Phils, I'm going to just keep watching this video on repeat. At least one thing went right.

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Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

Are the Phillies this bad? Phils 5-9 after being swept by Orioles at home

For the third straight night, the Phillies blew a multi-run lead against the Orioles in the middle innings. And for what feels like the 30th straight night, the Phillies' putrid bullpen didn't come close to keeping the game close.

It resulted in another loss as the Phillies were swept at home by the O's, losing 11-4 Thursday with seven of those runs coming against the Phils' bullpen.

Jake Arrieta had been cruising and the Phils built a two-run lead on J.T. Realmuto's opposite-field home run in the bottom of the fourth. But the next half-inning, Arrieta lost his command and couldn't pick up the final out with the bases loaded.

The Orioles scored four times in the fifth inning, the biggest hit a bases-clearing double from outfielder Anthony Santander.

Baltimore tacked on seven more runs against the Phillies' bullpen, which has a 10.13 ERA. Phillies relievers have allowed 48 earned runs in 42⅔ innings, which seems almost impossible.

"You have to be able to pitch to win games in this league, and quite frankly we just haven't thrown the ball well," Realmuto said. "We haven't done well late in games, in particular, when we've needed it. To win a division and to get to the playoffs, you need a really good bullpen. That's an area where we haven't done that well so far. We've got the guys to do it, we've just got to get better."

The Phillies are 5-9. They have the second-worst winning percentage in the National League, ahead of only the Pirates.

"It's concerning," Realmuto said. "With this shortened season, we've got to get it going quicker. It's definitely being talked about in the clubhouse. We're trying to pick each other up and stay positive. If you have one good week, you're back in it. Especially in our division, nobody is really running away with it yet."

Bohm's debut

Making his MLB debut, third baseman Alec Bohm's first major-league plate appearance ended with a double down the third-base line. He struck out looking in his second at-bat and flew out to a step in front of the warning track in right field to strand two runners in his third AB. In his final at-bat, he drilled a ball to the warning track in right-center for a flyout.

Bohm was also involved in Baltimore's fifth-inning rally. Pedro Severino rocketed a ball right under his glove at third base. It was the second-hardest hit ball of the night to that point and was a tough play but still probably one a big-league third baseman has to make.

Prior to the game, Phillies GM Matt Klentak described the team's plans to integrate Bohm into the everyday lineup.

Bryce and J.T. do it again

The Phillies are 5-9 but they might be something like 2-12 without their best two players. Realmuto hit a pair of two-run homers Thursday night, giving him 7 HR with 17 RBI on the season. Both home runs came after an extra-base hit from Bryce Harper, who doubled and tripled.

Harper is hitting .356 and leads MLB with a 1.202 OPS. Realmuto is hitting .292 and slugging .729, third to only Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. Realmuto has three more home runs than any other big-league catcher despite the Phillies having played a handful fewer games than most of the league.

There is a very good chance this is the hottest Harper and Realmuto will be in 2020. It would be hard to be hotter. If that's the case, the Phillies wasted all of this production.

Arrieta's night

Arrieta appeared to be on his way to another strong start before that fifth inning. He followed six shutout frames against the Braves with four zeroes Thursday night, extending his scoreless innings streak to 12 before the Orioles broke out.

"There's no reason I shouldn't have been able to throw at least seven innings in that game," Arrieta said. "A couple of runs should have been enough. Giving up four in the fifth kind of took the wind out of our sails. That one's completely my fault. I had multiple opportunities to make a pitch and get out of that inning. Just wasn't able to do it."

Through three starts, Arrieta has a 4.02 ERA with 14 strikeouts and two walks in 15⅔ innings.

More bad bullpening

Debuting Connor Brogdon was welcomed to the Phillies' bullpen by allowing two homers and three runs in 1⅓ innings. The Phillies have nine relievers with an ERA over 8.00 and ended up using position player Neil Walker for the final two outs.

Up next

The Phillies welcome the Mets to town for a three-game series this weekend. Jacob deGrom is scheduled to pitch for the Mets in Game 1. The Phillies will go with Spencer Howard for his second major-league start.

Aaron Nola starts for the Phillies Saturday, while Zack Wheeler faces his old team Sunday.

After the weekend, the Phillies play 10 straight games and 20 of their next 29 on the road.

"We obviously haven't performed up to our standards, that's for sure," Arrieta said. "There's really no time to worry about it. We just have to play better. We already have to catch up quite a bit."

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