MLBits: Kershaw's Opt-Out, Free Tickets for Kids, Players Want Say in Sports Gambling, More

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MLBits: Kershaw’s Opt-Out, Free Tickets for Kids, Players Want Say in Sports Gambling, More

Chicago Cubs

Although I went to all three games at Wrigley Field this week, I didn’t really get a chance to partake in any of the new restaurants at Hotel Zachary across the street. I think I’ll change that tomorrow.

I’m feeling a little Big Star before the game. See ya there?

  • It’s not much of a surprise (I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t), but Clayton Kershaw is expected to opt-out of his contract with the Dodgers this offseason. If he didn’t, he’d play out a two-year/$65 million deal, but, in terms of the guarantee, he’d get much more than that as a free agent. However, don’t start getting excited about his market being fun to follow. Prevailing wisdom suggests he’ll stick around in L.A. and probably finish his career as a Dodger (in fact, that’s probably part of why they were so intent on getting under the luxury tax threshold this offseason and resetting their penalties in the first place). Jon Heyman expects Kershaw to set a new record (both AAV and total dollar) for starting pitchers, and so do I. The Rangers are mentioned as an outside possibility (hometown connections), but I don’t buy it. He’ll be a Dodger, and an expensive one at that.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
  • The Baltimore Orioles are doing the $0 admission thing for kids under 9-years-old (when an adult buys a ticket in the upper deck), and I think it’s just a fantastic idea. Sure, this sort of play will help attendance issues in the short-term, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about attracting and holding onto fans from a very young age, which is something baseball has struggled with over the years. Moreover, it’s not just a cash grab for the concessions, as some of the more cynical among you may have guessed. Because if it is, it’ll take a lot of $1.50 hot dogs and $4 beers to make up the cost. In fact, the Orioles whole “anti-airport experience” attitude is one I can really respect. I hope more teams follow their lead (in this one specific regard, that is).
  • Coming into the 2018 season, I think we all expected the juiced ball era to continue in the form of homer after homer leaving the parks around the league. However, according to Rob Arthur, we’re not currently seeing the spike in dingers we expected. In fact, the percentage of home runs per fly ball is down to it’s lowest level since 2014 and it might, once again, be due to changes in the baseball (the “drag” on the baseball seems to be up compared to this time last year). We’ll see if things change as more data comes in.
  • Well how about this:

  • Basically, representatives from the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL player unions have come together to say that while Sports Gambling appears to be heading towards mainstream/legality, they need to have a seat at the table when the rules are created: “The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs. Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players’ privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses. Betting on sports may become widely legal, but we cannot allow those who have lobbied the hardest for sports gambling to be the only ones controlling how it would be ushered into our businesses.” Solid statement, and I agree completely, even if I wouldn’t mind it becoming more and more legal.
  • The Giants are hopeful reliever Mark Melancon can begin a throwing program in two weeks after receiving a stem cell injection in his injured right pronotator, which apparently did not respond well to surgery last September. And if it all sounds a little confusing, don’t feel alone. NBC Sports concedes that while the news was the first in a while, it was hard to gauge how good/bad it was. “I think it’s good news that we don’t have to do more than that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I can’t tell you how long before he’s on the mound pitching for us, but at least we have a better idea now than we did yesterday.” Melancon, a huge free agent signing a couple years ago, threw just 30.0 innings for the Giants last year and has yet to throw this season.
  • While we’re on the injury wagon, Elvis Andrus has been diagnosed with an elbow fracture after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday, but he won’t need surgery. Still, he’s expected to miss about eight weeks (it’s not clear if that includes a rehab assignment, but I’d guess it does not).
  • Now that the dust has settled on that big Red Sox/Yankees brawl on Wednesday, MLB has dropped a six-game suspension on Boston righty Joe Kelly and a five-gamer on Yankees infielder Tyler Austin. Both players have appealed. If you recall, Kelly hit Austin in the back in the top of the seventh inning, after Austin had a late slide into second earlier in the game.
  • And to think, this series started off with a light-hearted (but intense!) game of chicken:

  • We’ll get into it more deeply later on, but Forbes has this week released their MLB organization valuations, and the Chicago Cubs rank third in terms of overall value, behind just the Yankees and Dodgers (beating out the Giants and Red Sox is pretty impressive), and in annual revenue. As for the least valuable organizations, it’s the Rays, Marlins, Reds, Royals and Athletics, though only the Rays are worth less than $1B. The Marlins, by the way, have a reported -$53M operating income. And interestingly, their $1B valuation is $200M less than Derek Jeter’s group paid for it last year. [Brett: Yes, that loss of $53 million annually is totally believable. I mean, I believe Forbes got that figure from the Marlins’ submissions, but I also believe there have long been ways that the ownership down there was extracting its value while claiming a loss. Otherwise, nobody is buying that organization for $1.2 billion.]
  • I don’t know how the advanced defensive metrics will judge the following play, but I can tell you it’s one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen a catcher do:

  • LOL … it’s hard not to love Clickhole (from the makers of The Onion):

  • And finally, have you ever wondered what the kids from The Sandlot look like nowadays? Well, with the exception of Ham Porter, who looks EXACTLY like he did in the movie, the rest of the group is pretty surprising:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami