The deep cold today is really annoying, having just arrived for the weekend, when I especially like to get outside and play with the kids. I still will, but it’ll be a lot more brief and poofy than I would have preferred.
• The Red Sox landed Enrique Hernandez, lefty-killer and good-defense-all-over guy, for two years and $14 million (with some money deferred). I don’t really see signs that the bottom has fallen out of the market too much, which will leave the Cubs scrambling close to Spring Training to pick up the few guys who have to settle for minor league deals, or uber-cheap guarantees. Until they demonstrate otherwise, that’s my anticipation. Sorry. It sucks. But the Cubs just aren’t going to spend $7+ million right now on complementary roster guys like Hernandez, because I think they just don’t have it.
• Speaking of which, the Austin Romine signing is now officially official:
Cubs make the Romine signing official. pic.twitter.com/2biLTyPz6N
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) January 23, 2021
• At $1.5 million, the Cubs just DOUBLED the previous biggest signing for the entire NL Central this offseason (reliever Jonathan Holder, also signed by the Cubs, got $750,000). The Cubs are, by far, the big spenders of the NL Central this offseason. Talk about the moneybags of the division, right?! Yes, I’m laughing.
• Big sports media news, as NBC’s national sports channel is shutting down at the end of the year. Some content will shift over to USA (like hockey), while other content will undoubtedly wind up on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock. I mention it here because the decision is in line with our thinking about what’s coming long-term for baseball teams’ broadcast rights: standalone streaming products that carry a team’s games, controlled by the team rather than MLB. In five years, I think the whole MLB-watching ecosystem is going to look vastly different. Or at least it should.
• Sinclair – a partner in more than half the league’s RSNs, including Marquee – has already indicated that it will soon offer standalone products, which would mean the ability for fans to get (for example) a Marquee app subscription to watch Cubs games directly from the Cubs. Think Netflix, but for Marquee/Cubs. I hit on this stuff often because it’s so critical for the long-term health of the sport and the ability for fans to consume the sport HOW THEY WANT TO – the cable bundle is fading, which means the huge carriage fees that RSN’s get from cable networks (including from many subscribers who don’t actually care about every channel in their lineup) will soon fade, too. A huge hurdle to full team app-living is going to be MLB’s control of a team’s out-of-market rights, which would mean, right now, teams can sell a standalone streaming app (with the games, I mean) *only* within their designated broadcast territory. In a cable-free world, yes, I agree, that just seems crazy. So, if you can get MLB on board and you can execute things just right, teams like the Cubs – ones that have broad fan interest and own their own network – could be in the best spot long-term (it is, in my mind, why it was still potentially smart for the Cubs to start their own network even in a cord-cutting world). A whole lotta could-and-should there, but these things change incrementally, bit by bit, over many years. This NBCSN news is just the latest bit.
• Another bit, since we’re on the topic – MASN (the RSN for the Nats and O’s) is cutting back significantly. It’s partly because of their unique shared situation, but it’s also because, frankly, RSNs just aren’t worth what they once were:
#Sportsbiz #MASN #Orioles #Nats Clearly the end of the MASN/Orioles/Nats relationship draws closer. It's going to end with lots of legal fees and maybe in the anti room, right before a trial judge hears a case. The only assets which remain are the games. https://t.co/t2VeJALhE9
— martyconway (@martyconway) January 23, 2021
• It’s kind of crazy that the Mets are having to apologize in advance for possibly having interest in signing Trevor Bauer, who has harassed women on Twitter, after they just had to fire their newly-hired GM for a particularly horrible incident of digital sexual harassment:
Story regarding Mets’ interest in Bauer, updated with statement from Bauer on his social-media behavior: https://t.co/PwuQ8qYqKV
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2021
• Ian Happ is just a really good guy:
— Connect Roasters (@connectroasters) January 23, 2021
Ian Happ drove 96 miles west of Chicago to make a surprise visit to Matt Henkel, bearing gifts and words of encouragement as the lifelong #Cubs fan continues his battle with brain cancer
“Something never in a million years you think would happen”https://t.co/JP7gDTfnHK
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) January 22, 2021
• Great stuff on a collaboration here from Mario for folks who are into hockey and want to broaden their horizons a bit:
The National Women's Hockey League kicks off its unique 2021 season, and there's a lot to love about what the league is doing for the sport. https://t.co/h2HH40LShA
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 23, 2021
• Enjoyed this feedback:
It’s in the works. pic.twitter.com/BQJVDf92Mu
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) January 23, 2021
• People seem to be having a lot of fun with this one:
What is your favorite TYPE of hit in baseball? Like, the most enjoyable to watch?
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 22, 2021