MLBits: Manfred is Trying to Clean Up His Mess, Shildt’s Broken Heart, Passan’s Predictions, More
Rob Manfred is making the rounds this spring, attempting to improve the relationship between the players and the owners after a nasty lockout, but will it land with the players?
Improving the Post-Lockout Relationship
Rob Manfred vowed to work more closely with Tony Clark and the MLBPA after the two sides struck a deal on a new CBA that ended the 99-day lockout earlier this month. Manfred acknowledged that he has not successfully promoted a good relationship between the owners that he serves as the commissioner of MLB and the players that make up the rank and file.
“One of the things that I’m supposed to do is promote a good relationship with our players. I’ve tried to do that. I think that I have not been successful in that. I think that it begins with small steps. It’s why I picked the phone up after the ratification and called Tony and expressed my desire to work with him. It’s going to be a priority of mine moving forward to try to make good on the commitment I made to him on the phone.”
Manfred is now making the rounds in that effort, meeting with veteran players on multiple clubs, most recently the Chicago White Sox. On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Manfred met with nine veteran White Sox players at Camelback Ranch. Rosenthal says that players from the Rockies, Phillies, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks have had the same opportunity this spring.
Rob Manfred meeting with MLB players in effort to improve relationship post-lockout. Story: https://t.co/7sHkT2hl3F
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 31, 2022
Of course, CBA-specific issues that boil down to dollars and cents have been (and will rightfully continue to be) or priority in these conversations between Manfred and players, but some players are taking the opportunity to address other matters that are important to them.
White Sox closer (which one, right?) Liam Hendriks took the opportunity to bring up MLB’s archaic blackout policy, with Hendriks stressing that the blackouts are detrimental to the growth of the game and the player’s brand. Hendriks told Rosenthal that Manfred said, “they’re working on it, and it hopefully will lead to something positive in the future for fans in that regard.”
Phillies’ veteran outfielder Rhys Hoskins took the opportunity to stress the importance of improving the relationship between the two sides and other CBA issues that will be on the docket for the two sides shortly as the international draft and the rules changes.
“I mean, there are obviously topics that were covered for the last seven, eight months that we spoke about,” Hoskins said. “There’s a group of us that I thought we needed to get their opinions to him to make sure that decisions going forward, at least there’s information they have about what guys in here think regarding some of the issues that are going to be talked about. The rule changes, the international draft. Just all those things that are going to be on our plate in a year. So it was a lot of that.”
This is a nice gesture, but Manfred and the owners have plenty of work to mend the relationship they dragged through the mud for nearly 100 days this winter. The commissioner has extended the invitation to players to come and visit the league offices when they are in New York this season, offering an honest look at what they do there daily.
“I’m hoping players come and see what we do,” Manfred said. “When you understand what somebody does, you understand them better.”
Yankees To Broadcast 21 Games on Amazon Prime Video
This won’t affect fans outside of the New York tri-state area (for now), but the Yankees fans will have a problem catching a handful of their games this season if they’re not Amazon subscribers. The Yankees will broadcast 21 games on Amazon’s streaming service this season, and those games will not be available on their local RSN, YES.
This is the latest in the growing trend of professional sports striking deals with major streaming services, but this one is specific to the Yankees and their local viewing market for now. These Amazon Prime broadcasts will feature their local broadcast team and mostly be Friday night matchups that would have been on Channel 11 in the past.
NEW COLUMN: The Yankees will have 21 games this season that fans will only be able to watch through Amazon Prime Video. https://t.co/rsEVWTmLv1
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 31, 2022
We saw MLB strike a deal with Apple TV+ last month, and there have been talks of NBC’s streaming services Peacock acquiring the rights to some games in the near future, further mucking up the already tedious process of watching baseball.
WOW. Nearly 13% of the Yankees' games this year will be available *EXCLUSIVELY* on Amazon Prime. https://t.co/b2mfsuYkjG
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 31, 2022
Schildt’s Broken Heart
The St. Louis Cardinals won nearly 60 percent of their games under Mike Shildt. They stretched a postseason streak to three with one of the wildest September surges in the standings that you will ever see, but it wasn’t good enough for the 2019 National League Manager of the Year to keep his job.
After the Dodgers eliminated the Cardinals from the MLB Postseason last October, Shildt prepared himself for a Zoom meeting with John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt on October 14, thinking that he was up for a contract extension on the heels of a historic September and a Wild Card loss to the Dodgers that ended in a walk-off home run by Los Angeles. What came next hit Shildt, who spent 18 years with the Cardinals, like a “bag of bricks.”
“Mike, this conversation isn’t going to go the way you think it’s going to go.’’
It took Mozeliak all of five minutes to sever ties with a dedicated and loyal member of the organization for nearly two decades over alleged philosophical differences. If there ever was a harsh reminder that baseball is, in fact, a business, this is it. Bob Nightengale sat down with Shildt to discuss the firing and Shildt’s future in baseball.
'I have a broken heart:' Mike Shildt bares his soul about being fired by the #Cardinals https://t.co/4y52iDKSRL
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 31, 2022
ESPN MLB Preview
This week, Jeff Passan busts out all of his hats in his comprehensive 2022 MLB Preview over at ESPN. Passan covers it all in this one, from fantasy and gambling to prospects to watch, and can’t miss predictions for some of the game’s brightest stars.
Fantasy breakouts. Gambling tips. Helium prospects. Contract and trade insight. My World Series pick. Me wearing amazing hats.
A week before the season starts, a preview that covers all of baseball and prepares you for the year ahead, here at ESPN+: https://t.co/WK0SoF68Nl pic.twitter.com/Pgqth8zmKi
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 31, 2022
Odds and Ends:
• The Texas Rangers had one of the splashiest offseasons in baseball, and it might still net them a third-place finish in the AL West, but at least they landed a new fan! Donning a Texas Rangers cap in a Maverics media availability, Luka Dončić confirmed to SI that he is indeed a Rangers fan.
“Yeah, I’m a Texas Rangers fan, thanks to DK,” Dončić said. “It was DK, who I think is the most important guy in our organization.”
“DK” is Don Kalkstein, the Mavericks’ director of sports psychology. Kalkstein served as director of performance enhancement for the Rangers from 1995-to-2005. He also spent seven years in a similar role with the Boston Red Sox.”
A man with taste. pic.twitter.com/AGNjnDyi6g
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) March 31, 2022
• Luis Robert at No. 50 will be the juiciest piece of social media fodder for fans to launch back at MLB in six months. If Robert is healthy this season, he’ll be a top-five outfielder in baseball. This kid is primed for a MONSTER season (Michael: Yeah, he’ll be fifth right behind Seiya Suzuki, Clint Frazier, Ian Happ, and Michael Hermosillo).
#Top100RightNow rolls along with a big group of talented outfielders. pic.twitter.com/l4hLZlmbNA
— MLB (@MLB) March 31, 2022
• This seems like a nice concept, but a half-baked idea at best right now:
New ground. New rules. New levels. Home Run Derby X explained. #HomeRunDerbyX pic.twitter.com/CmQRc5eJS8
— MLB (@MLB) March 30, 2022
• It appears that Bryce Harper is ready for Opening Day:
• WOW 🤯:
The play of the year in Spring Training? Wow! pic.twitter.com/uUS6xVixl3
— MLB (@MLB) March 31, 2022
• One. 👏 More. 👏 Week. 👏
This time next week, it begins for real. pic.twitter.com/gjB9aRDqrL
— MLB (@MLB) March 31, 2022