I watched Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams yesterday. Good documentary about the event that has been described as a combination of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Super Bowl in Japan. If you don’t know what it is, Koshien is a nationwide high school baseball tournament that is a national obsession. The documentary follows one school through a year of preparing for the tournament, as well as another, more successful school coached by a former assistant of the head coach of the first school. The second school is where Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi played.
I mention it just because I’m sure some of you, like me, need a baseball fix.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the media on Thursday and said that losing regular season games would be “disastrous” but that he was “optimistic” that an agreement would be reached before then.
- Manfred also stated that the league has agreed to a universal DH and the elimination of draft pick penalties for signing free agents.
- As far as the end of pitchers hitting, former Cubs pitcher Trevor Williams posted this (tongue-in-cheek) video tribute to his hitting highlights:
- Matt Weyrich has three thoughts on Manfred’s press conference.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith thinks that there is some momentum towards a deal, but he also outlines where both sides still need to compromise.
- Manfred also said that finding a new stadium for the Rays is urgent.
- Evan Drellich writes that what Manfred said on Thursday was meaningless compared to what the owners’ proposal looks like on Saturday. (The Athletic sub. req.) Or in other words, actions speak louder than words.
- Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville interview Royals player representative Whit Merrifield about the negotiations and how the players feel at the moment. (The Athletic sub. req.) Merrifield said that the players are united and frustrated that the owners don’t seem to want to negotiate.
- Dayn Perry looks back at when players were eligible for arbitration after two seasons. The MLB Players Association wants a return to that but the owners are dead-set against it.
- On to other, even sadder news. Former major leaguer Jeremy Giambi died on Wednesday night at the age of 47. The death has been ruled a suicide. Our condolences go out to Jeremy’s friends and family. Please know that there is help available for those of you struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is help available.
- An update on the Eric Kay trial. Kay is the former Angels employee charged with supplying the drugs that killed pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
- Skaggs’ mother also testified at the trial. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- What happens when the lockout ends? Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal explain what is likely to happen and how it is going to be “absolute insanity” (The Athletic sub. req.) as both players and teams will rush to get ready for the season. For example, arbitration-eligible players may have to start the season before they learn how much they’re going to earn.
- Mike Axisa has the first move that each team should make when the lockout ends.
- Will Laws has trade suggestions for the Yankees, Giants and Mariners.
- Tim Stebbins reports that the Mariners are expected to make a big push to sign former Cub Kris Bryant.
- A roundtable discussion about where first baseman Freddie Freeman will play next season.
- Mike Axisa has ten players who are returning from injury in 2022.
- Former Cubs pitcher Dan Straily is returning to the States after two seasons in KBO as he has signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks. Jay Jaffe explains how two years of pitching in Korea has changed Straily and how he might do in MLB.
- And former Cubs (and several other teams) manager Jim Riggleman will be managing the independent Billings Mustangs in 2022.
- Ben Clemens looks first-pitch strikes and how some pitchers succeed by throwing lots of them and some pitchers succeed despite being in the bottom of first-pitch strike percentage.
- MLB Pipeline lists the most athletic prospect for each team. No surprise who the Cubs’ most-athletic prospect is.
- Manny Randhawa looks back at the trade that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to the Reds, 22 years ago yesterday. The trade was seen as a heist for the Reds at the time, but in retrospect, Mike Cameron was better for the Mariners than Griffey was for the Reds. And yes, I know injuries to Griffey were a big reason for that. But also, Cameron turned out to be very good.
- Getting back to Whit Merrifield, former Royals manager Ned Yost admitted he never thought Merrifield would be as good as he turned out to be. That ended up costing Merrifield a call-up in 2015 and thus, a World Series ring.
- Andrew Simon remembers back to 1995 when Hideo Nomo came over to play for the Dodgers and how that started the flow of Japanese stars who have played in MLB since then.
- Were going to finish up today’s edition with two inspiring stories of ballplayers overcoming health scares. Chris Cwik looks at Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins and how he battled to overcome Crohn’s Disease and become an All-Star.
- And finally, Phillies minor leaguer Daniel Brito had a seizure on the field at the end of last July. He underwent two brain surgeries and spent one month in a coma. Now he’s making a miraculous recovery and is looking to be playing baseball again this upcoming season. (The Athletic sub. req.)
End the lockout, commissioner Manfred.