And all through Wrigley Field, not a creature was stirring because of COVID protocols.
OK, so it doesn’t rhyme.
So I watched Iowa Cubs broadcaster Alex Cohen and his girlfriend Tessa Chen find a house on House Hunters last night. I now know that Cohen likes “the basement” more than any broadcaster should. Did anyone else watch? Do you think they made the right pick of the three homes they looked at?
- SB Nation has their season preview with a roundtable discussion on seven questions, including our own Sara Sanchez and Ashley MacLennan.
- Neil Paine has a guide to the 2021 American League season. I assume the National League article will show up today.
- Hannah Keyser has a preview of the NL West by getting the five general managers to talk about their own teams.
- Dennis Lin has an in-depth look at the Padres and their master plan to topple the Dodgers from the NL West throne. (The Athletic sub. req.) I knew the Dodgers had been atop the NL West for a while, but do you realize they’ve won eight-straight division titles? The Giants last won the division in 2012.
- Anthony Castrovince ranks the best ten MLB lineups, the best ten starting rotations and the best ten bullpens heading into the season.
- Andy McCullough and Marc Carig poll industry insiders about who the best starting pitchers in the league are. (The Athletic sub. req.) Man, even baseball executives don’t five Kyle Hendricks the respect he’s earned.
- Sarah Langs has some career milestones that could be reached in 2021.
- Mike Petriello ranks all 30 teams into seven “tiers.”
- Will Laws ranks all 30 teams by how “watchable” they’ll be this season.
- R.J. Anderson has three key off-the-field storylines to the 2021 season.
- Will Leitch writes that MLB has a big opportunity to capture the attention of the nation in 2021 and it better not screw it up with a labor stoppage in 2022.
- Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville had MLB executive Theo Epstein (you might have heard of him) on their podcast and Stark summarizes what Epstein said about his love of baseball and what MLB needs to do to make the sport better. (The Athletic sub. req.) Or I suppose, you could just listen to the podcast if you’ve got a spare 85 minutes.
- MLB also issued new COVID guidelines for minor league baseball to follow this season. Broadcasters can’t travel with the team. No batboys or batgirls. No sunflower seeds. Teams are required to charter three buses instead of two and charter flights for Triple-A are strongly encouraged. Teams are also strongly encouraged to put each player in a separate hotel room on the road. MLB does not bother to explain who is going to pay for these extra expenses, so it’s a good bet that MLB doesn’t feel it’s their responsibility.
- The biggest off-the-field story at the moment (non-COVID category) is whether or not shortstop Francisco Lindor signs a long-term extension with the Mets. Owner Steve Cohen said “I hope he decides to sign.” The two sides are reportedly $60 million apart, with Lindor wanting $385 over ten years and the Mets making their “final offer” at $325 over ten.
- Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said that Lindor is worth $400 million.
- Gabe Lacques has a preview of the “billion dollar shortstops” that could be on the free agent market next winter. It certainly seems like the total dollar amounts of the contracts they’ll sign will exceed one billion, if labor issues don’t get in the way.
- The Mets have also hired a law firm to conduct an organizational review of “workplace culture . . . with a focus on sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination issues.” (The Athletic sub. req. although here’s a non-paywall summary.) Also, the investigation into former Mets manager and current Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway is still “ongoing.”
- Michael Baumann argues that the top rivalry in 2021 will be the Twins and White Sox.
- The Blue Jays will play in Florida until at least the end of May.
- The Tigers are moving Miguel Cabrera back to first base. Good luck with that.
- The Rangers have designated infielder Rougned Odor for assignment. Jay Jaffe looks back at Odor’s career and what went wrong for him in Texas in recent years. The Rangers still owe Odor $27 million over the next two seasons.
- Howard Megdal argues that “versatile infielders” are baseball new “secret weapon.” That is, guys without a regular job but ones that can be slotted into all four infield positions.
- The Angels remade their bullpen just as Spring Training was ending, picking up four new relievers just in the last week. Jake Mailhot explains this isn’t an ideal situation, but that the Angels had little choice.
- Former number one draft pick Mark Appel is attempting a comeback with the Phillies.
- Marlins manager Kim Ng is aware of the pressure she is under and insists that “Failure is not an option for me.”
- The Marlins announced that their ballpark will now be known as Loan Depot Park. You are supposed to write it “loanDepot park” with apparently random capitalization, but I’m not going to do that because neither the Marlins nor Loan Depot are paying me to go along with their silly capitalization scheme.
- President Joe Biden will not throw out the first pitch on Nationals Opening Day. He hopes to throw out the first pitch sometime later this season at Nationals Park. Or maybe he just thinks no self-respecting Phillies fan would ever put on a Nats jersey and throw out the first pitch.
- Bob Nightengale speaks with former Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson about the tragic year baseball had in 2020. In a nine-month span, ten Hall of Famers died, which is an all-time high.
- And finally, Ben Lindbergh has an interesting piece about . . . a drive into deep left field by Castellanos and that’ll be a home run and so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame . . . how a bungled apology by Thom Brennaman became baseball’s top internet meme. It took longer to take hold than you might expect.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster, because it will be Opening Day!