Super Bowl Sunday is here, which will serve to underscore some of the fundamental differences between the NFL as national event programming, and MLB as increasingly regional. A lot of that is tied to the once-a-week nature of football, and this game being literally just one game for all the marbles, but I was interested to see the NFL put on an awards show last night on NBC (a national broadcast channel). By all appearances, the fourth annual event was relatively well-received (I thought Seth Meyers’ opening monologue was pretty funny), and it’s a smart idea to pair that with the Super Bowl. The league’s stars were on display, walking around with celebrities. I’m not going to argue that MLB should – or even could – pull off something similar with its awards, but there are probably some lessons to be learned there about managing the national conversation about your sport.
Hell – just look at what the NFL went through this year, and Commissioner Roger Goodell was sitting there last night laughing at jokes about his job security. Clearly, the league knows how to maintain its national prominence.
- The update to yesterday’s update on the status of Cuban players like Yoan Moncada is that MLB has told teams not to sign these players just yet, in the wake of OFAC’s confirmation that they consider those players unblocked and free to do business with U.S. entities. Jeff Passan writes about MLB’s message to teams, and notes that MLB is hoping to receive additional guidance from OFAC (or any other relevant governmental body) as soon as early this week. As I said yesterday, I get the sense that the tentative expectation is that MLB will hear what it needs to hear within a few days, will change its policy requiring specific licenses from OFAC for Cuban nationals, and Moncada (and Andy Ibanez, and probably second baseman Hector Olivera, too) will officially be free to sign.
- From there, the odds that the Cubs could convince Moncada to wait until July 2 to sign would seem to drop precipitously unless they made an offer so hugely over the top that a 19-year-old was willing to wait another five months to guarantee life-changing riches. If the Yankees and Red Sox were offering him $40 million, would $45 million be enough? $50 million? At that point, you’re talking about spending $100 million (money to Moncada plus overage penalty) to lock down one prospect. I know it’s just money, and it can be spread out a little bit over the next couple years … but the Cubs aren’t quite yet rolling around in limitless funds.
- Somehow I missed this last week from new White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija, who joked about former teammate Anthony Rizzo’s media interviews (CSN). If the gods are just, the Cubs will get to face Samardzija in each of their two series against the White Sox this year – it would just be so much fun.
- Noted sabermetrician and Cubs consultant Tom Tango offered some thoughts on substitution rules in baseball here at FanGraphs. His interesting idea? Allow pinch hitters and pinch runners to be the player taken out of the game after their half inning, rather than the person they replaced. (Example: catcher gets a hit in the 8th, and the manager brings in a swift bench guy to pinch run. After the half-inning, the pinch runner is out of the game (cannot be used again), and the catcher heads back out behind the plate. The idea is that the manager is still losing a player; he simply gets to choose which one is lost.) Tango discusses the upsides to this approach in his piece, and it could lead to quite a bit of additional excitement, especially in the National League. Imagine being able to pinch hit for the starting pitcher in a crucial spot early in the game, but NOT having then to take the pitcher out of the game. Instead, that pinch hitter is lost for the game. I’m not sure how I’d land on this, but it’s interesting. I definitely like the pinch runner part.
- The memorial service and procession for Ernie Banks was yesterday, and you can read about the memorial here. You can also watch a bit on the service here (there are more videos at Cubs.com of the individual remarks):
- I missed this when it happened, but it’s another nice tribute to Ernie:
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) January 29, 2015