The baseball season’s delay postponed games as well as booing.
Houston was bracing for a grouse-filled season as baseball’s top enemy. The title is usually reserved for the brash, arrogant or well-off (meaning the Yankees). Instead, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal flipped them from model franchise to convicted cheaters. They would be the target of universal vitriol outside of Minute Maid Park. The level of booing would only vary based on location.
Former Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch would be forced to watch the anger-filled tour from afar. Major League Baseball suspended both for a year following its investigation into the organization’s sign-stealing scheme. The duo’s season was over before everyone else’s was delayed.
Thursday, ESPN reported those year-long suspensions would not be bumped until next season -- no matter length of delay this year. Luhnow and Hinch are off the league’s hook following the 2020 World Series. If there is no such event, they will be done regardless. This makes sense.
Why? It’s generally understandable. Baseball also had little choice.
When the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to a deal with MLB in order to set baseline parameters for what would come in a shortened season, service time was the paramount issue. Players wanted their clocks to run. Nothing matters more to their finances. Juan Soto would gain another year toward becoming a future free agent. Moving the young players up in baseball’s drawn-out contractual process was crucial. But, much of this hinged on a single player: Mookie Betts.
Betts was traded in the offseason from Boston to Los Angeles because the Red Sox decided they did not want to pay one of the game’s great talents now or after the 2020 season, when he can become a free agent. Betts can be an unrestricted, 28-year-old, former-MVP free agent this winter. If he wasn’t allowed into free agency via his clock moving, not only would he personally be damaged, but the Dodgers may have received a year-plus of his work when they otherwise wouldn’t.
So, the players demanded their service time numbers move with or without a season. Their give was to prorate their salaries. That pushed everything into motion for the agreement.
It also means Luhnow and Hinch can’t suddenly receive disparate treatment. The season is going to be treated as if it exists, even if it does not. That idea extends to everyone, even the suspended cheaters.
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