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MLB's detailed plans mean one thing: They shouldn't play ball ... yet

MLB's detailed plans mean one thing: They shouldn't play ball ... yet

The reported details in Major League Baseball’s 67-page health protocol document are both impressive and harrowing. Have your temperature taken before you leave the hotel, then again at the park. Spread out in the stands at least two rows and four seats apart. Don’t spit. If the ball is touched by multiple players, replace it. On and on and on.

The league realized its foremost duty when negotiating a season restart is to assure the players they would be safe. Hence the document.

Because there will be no season without safety. No revenue -- shared or otherwise. No baseball in 2020.

Which prompted the league to deliver in pain-staking, yet still incomplete, detail the day-to-day protocol suggestions for a game to happen amid the coronavirus pandemic. A single game. Which means across just an 82-game season, everyone would have to perform this perfectly 1,230 times. Calling the process tenuous gives it too much credit.

All the details don’t amount to a head nod or calm feeling. They are just a compilation of warnings which show how problematic a single game would be. And, together, they make only one thing clear: Baseball shouldn’t be played yet.

If this is what it takes, what’s the point? No fans. A plethora of oddities. A distorted season. Extreme chance of a stop-and-start. Unclear answers for what-if scenarios. No enforcement measures from the league.

Is the desperation for even a modicum of revenue so high they will go through any 50-step process each day to throw a first pitch?

What if Max Scherzer licks his fingers while on the mound? Is he ejected? If someone chats at first base, are they ejected? If tomorrow’s starter becomes ill, how are they replaced? What if the closer is sick for a month and his replacement is a minor-leaguer in a shortened season? What amount of quarantine players would necessitate a venue change? Why is MLB’s recommended quarantine time half of the CDC’s?

Understand and applaud this as a first measure from the league. They checked for details, piled data, formulated contingencies. They are worried about health.

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Everyone wants to play. That’s the first driver. Everyone wants to be paid. That’s a second driver. In order for those things to happen, fathers-to-be and family-oriented husbands need to feel comfortable. Almost as important, so do their partners. The money has a direct influence on that. How much are they being paid and for how much risk?

If the league can demonstrate acceptable risk suppression, it can develop a financial suppression argument, too. “We’re offering a 50-50 split in this safe-as-can-be environment.” It’s a logical statement to make from the ownership end.

Meanwhile, the owners are also in the public sphere lamenting prospective financial losses. The Associated Press reported Sunday a presentation from the owners to the union said, “Major League Baseball told players their prorated salaries would contribute to an average loss of $640,000 for each game over an 82-game season in empty ballparks.”

The presentation claimed the Chicago Cubs would lose $199 million in a fan-less, 82-game setup. Of course, the league and its clubs -- who do not open their books to anyone else -- calculate the numbers. Even if they are true, the numbers are a near-sighted gripe which won’t compel the players.

Take the Cubs. When Forbes released its annual valuations of MLB franchises in April, the Cubs were used as the lead example to define the massive upswing across the sport. The Ricketts family bought the Cubs and Wrigley Field at the end of the recession in 2009 for $700 million. They also purchased a 25 percent stake in what was ComcastSportsNet Chicago for $145 million. Forbes now values the Cubs at $3.2 billion.

Forbes also reported average team value has increased fourfold in the last 10 years.

So, when the owners use large, singular numbers to grouse about prospective losses, consider another large, singular number, which would be their payout if they determine this is a poor business for them to retain (they won’t). Because the players will think about that valuation number, in addition to all the other day-to-day revenue they believe owners pull in from television contracts and running stadiums when they are asked to take a pay cut. Then they will say, “No one pays to see the owners.”

Which again brings back the complications of moving forward. If rosters are expanded to 30 players, the league will be relying on a minimum  of 900 players not to go to a crowded bar once. Not to take one small misstep that begins a trickle-down effect. Not do something human nature will so desperately be prompting them to, whether for good reasons or bad, for the entirety of the season. The league is trying to jump through a pinhole-sized opening

Baseball is missed. That’s not in dispute. But, there is one large, looming question hanging over all the details: Is this worth it?

So far, it appears not.

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Carter Kieboom breaks Ryan Zimmerman's single-game record for assists by a Nats third baseman

Carter Kieboom breaks Ryan Zimmerman's single-game record for assists by a Nats third baseman

Nationals rookie infielder Carter Kieboom set a new team record for the most infield assists by a third baseman in a game when he recorded 10 over the first eight innings against the Orioles on Friday night.

Kieboom passed Ryan Zimmerman’s record of eight assists, set “many times” according to Nationals Director of Communications Kyle Brostowitz.

Though Kieboom was shifted around the infield for most of the night, his new record comes after an offseason full of questions about his defense.

The natural shortstop is Washington’s heir apparent to Anthony Rendon, who departed for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency last offseason after seven seasons with the Nationals. Kieboom had started just nine games at third in the minor leagues before the start of this season.

He still has plenty left to prove as a major-league third baseman, but Kieboom's record did come on an eventful night for the rookie. In addition to his feat (albeit, a bit fluky of one), Kieboom went 2-4 at the plate with an RBI and two runs scored.

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Nationals pull Stephen Strasburg after 16 pitches with apparent hand injury

Nationals pull Stephen Strasburg after 16 pitches with apparent hand injury

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was pulled just 16 pitches into his start against the Orioles on Friday after visibly shaking his hand and wincing after several pitches.

The reigning World Series MVP missed the start of the season with a nerve issue in his throwing hand. He returned to the mound Sunday, also against Baltimore, and cruised through four innings before things fell apart in the fifth. On Wednesday, Nationals manager Davey Martinez expressed concern with how he was still feeling a tingling sensation in his hand.

“I was a little bit concerned,” Martinez said during a Zoom press conference. “We will see how he feels. Yesterday he threw a little bit. He still felt it, so we will see where he is at. It’s raining right now, so we will see if he can go out there and throw again today. But we will definitely have to keep an eye on it. It’s a weird thing. He doesn’t feel it all the time. I know he’s in the training room working with the staff and trying to get it to go away.”

Strasburg faced only three batters Friday before getting the hook. He recorded two outs around a solo home run off the bat of outfielder Anthony Santander and was replaced by right-hander Erick Fedde.

The news comes on the heels of the Nationals losing second baseman Starlin Castro to a broken wrist and announcing that lefty reliever Sam Freeman was transferred to the 60-Day Injured List.

Strasburg is in the first season of a seven-year, $245 million extension he signed with the Nationals last offseason.

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