Updated at 4:28 p.m.
Multiple outlets, including Baseball America, reported that the 2020 Minor League Baseball season would be canceled today. That announcement came at 4:24 this afternoon in a release from MiLB.
The season was canceled after MLB informed Minor League teams that it would not provide players for their clubs.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played, MiLB President and CEO Pat O'Conner said in a statement.
Some have been expecting this news for a while as others held out hope, but it shouldn't come as too much of a shock to anybody. What makes everything worse though, is the potential that some of these Minor League clubs will never play again.
MLB has reportedly been planning to cut 42 Minor League franchises in order to downsize the total number of teams. There are multiple reasons behind this - saving money, providing better facilities to players - but none of them can justify these actions to those who will be affected by it.
Communities will lose a major source of revenue and a gathering place for summer nights. Players with big league hopes will find it even tougher to make it there; fewer Minor League teams means fewer players needed to fill out a team's farm system.
Hundreds of people will lose jobs - stadium workers, front office personnel and summer interns will all be looking for new employment.
This is something that we all knew was coming, but with the cancellation of the 2020 Minor League season expected to be announced today, it makes it all feel more real. No one can say with certainty what comes next, but it's sure to be a rough road ahead for MiLB.
Following the announcement that Mike Leake, Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross would all opt out of playing the 2020 season, Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced yesterday that he would be opting out as well.
The veteran batted .255/.310/.479 last year for Colorado while adding 20 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Citing the dangers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Desmond made a long and heartfelt Instagram post detailing how he came to this decision.
I won't go into too much detail on his post, because I think you should take the time to read it in its entirety and reflect on his words. But the important part is that Desmond is using this time to do what he can to give back to his community and be there for his family.
He says he'll be spending his time away from MLB to help get Sarasota youth baseball back on track and make sure kids in the community have the same opportunities that he did. He also said he feels he needs to be with his family, which includes his wife and four kids.
I have massive respect for Ian Desmond after making this announcement, and in my opinion, you have to respect the way he made his decision. Ultimately it's his, and any other player's, decision whether or not they play this year, and if they feel it's best for them, we should all just leave it at that.
When Major League Baseball and its players came to an agreement on the 2020 season, one of the provisions was that players could opt out of the season if they didn't feel comfortable playing. Players who are considered high-risk for COVID-19 will still be paid, while others will have to forfeit their salary for the season.
Today we saw the first few examples of players deciding to forego the 2020 season. Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake has decided to opt out, as reported by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. ESPN's Jeff Passan tweeted out a statement from Leake's agent, which said "During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had many discussions about playing this season. They took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family. After thorough consideration, he has chosen to opt out of playing in 2020."
Leake started 32 games for the Dbacks last season, finishing with a 12-11 record and a 4.29 ERA.
Additionally, multiple Washington Nationals' players have decided to opt out this season. The Athletic's Britt Ghiroli reported that right-handed pitcher Joe Ross and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman have decided not to play this year. She also said that she's hearing that two to three other Nats players are still considering their options.
Ross went 4-4 for the Nats last season with a 5.48 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Zimmerman, a veteran in the Nats' lineup, batted .257 in just 52 games as he claimed his first World Series championship after becoming the first draft pick in Nationals' history in 2005.
I'm sure we'll see more players make the decision to opt out in the coming days as they begin to report to Spring Training 2.0, and I can't blame them. If that's what they feel is right for themselves, it's a decision they have to make.
There's a long list of craft beers brewed specifically for Major League Baseball teams. Frankly, if you operate a brewery in an MLB market, I don't know why you wouldn't want to release a beer collaboration with your local team.
Everyone knows that baseball and beer just go together. Plenty of people enjoy going to baseball games just to sit outside and drink beer all afternoon, and if that's what gets them to a ballpark, that's fine by me.
Biscayne Bay Brewing in Miami is the latest brewery to hop on the baseball bandwagon. They announced today that they will be releasing the new Marlins Lager.
According to the Miami New Times, the beer is a "crisp, light-bodied, German-style lager that's the ideal teammate for baseball on a summer day."
Say no more. Even though I'm a Braves fan and am not very fond of the Marlins, I'd give this one a try. Biscayne Bay said the beer is available at local grocery stores in Miami, but no word yet on shipping.
We've made it to the Elite Eight of the Best Seasons bracket, and there haven't been any real surprises yet. But this round brings a couple of tough matchups, and the one that I'm interested to watch is the 2018 Red Sox vs. 2001 Mariners.
Make your picks before Tuesday night, and we'll see who comes out on top and moves on to the semifinals.
Round one of the Best Seasons bracket was a good one, and some of the votes came down to the wire. Now it's time to move on to round two, and that means it's time to bring in the top 2 seeds, which each got byes in the first round. Take a look at the bracket, make your choices, and we'll see who moves on.
The Texas Rangers are moving into a new ballpark this year, despite the fact that their old one is less than 30 years old. They'll play the inaugural season at Globe Life Field this year, an indoor ballpark in Arlington directly across the street from the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium.
The main reason for the new ballpark is that it can be climate controlled, making those hot Texas afternoons more comfortable for fans. While the inside of the ballpark looks fine, the birds-eye view is not as flattering.
If you were flying over Arlington and didn't know what this building was, you probably wouldn't guess it was a baseball stadium. This picture was posted on Twitter by the user @b1rky, and the responses to their tweet pointed out how the ballpark looks similar to, say, a sheet metal warehouse, or a garage, or a barn. But pretty much everyone agrees that does not look like a ballpark.
Thankfully for the Rangers, no one has to see this view while they attend a game.
After lots of negotiations, back and forth drama and plenty of pessimism, we have a baseball season put into place! The MLBPA announced last night that all remaining issues have been resolved and they are ready to play the 2020 season.
MLB released a statement last night as well, saying that the 2020 season is scheduled to begin on either July 23 or 24, with "Spring Training" beginning on July 1.
The league's statement says that the "health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB's foremost priorities in its return to play." There are a lot of details regarding the league's health and safety protocols, including players having the ability to opt out if they do not feel safe playing this season.
Those protocols will have to be robust throughout the season, as multiple players have already tested positive for COVID-19, including Rockies' outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
While the risk of the virus is still very real and worrisome to some, it's good to see baseball finally put together a plan to return with an actual start date on the calendar. Now we've all got one month to get ready, and then it's time to play ball.
By Trey Lyle
Time for our last team on the Best Seasons series. This one goes to a team that has won both an American League and National League pennants since 2000. The Houston Astros, who won an NL pennant in 2005 and moved to the AL in 2013, didn’t take the team long to reach the mountain top for the first time in franchise history.
So, time to talk about 2017 Houston Astros, which is the best season in franchise history despite everything we know about that team.
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room when you mention this team: the sign-stealing scandal. Sign-stealing has always been a part of the game, but the team crossed the line when they used cameras, computers, electronics, and trash cans to steal signs to get an advantage. However, if you ask most Astros fans, they will say despite everything that the 2017 team is still their best season because of the championship they were able to win.
Now that that is out of the way, time to talk about objectively an excellent and very talented baseball team.
The Astros went 101-61 during the regular season, winning their first AL West title in franchise history and first division title since 2001 when the team was a part of the NL Central. In the postseason, the team defeated the Boston Red Sox in four games in the ALDS and the New York Yankees in seven games in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. In the World Series, the team went on to win their first title in franchise history, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
The Astros' dynamic lineup led the league in runs scored (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346), and slugging percentage (.478). They were headlined by Jose Altuve, who was the AL batting champ hitting .346 during the season, which led to him winning AL MVP.
The most significant transaction the team made during the season was acquiring Justin Verlander at the trade deadline. With the Astros, Verlander went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. As a staff, the team had a 4.12 ERA and 1,593 strikeouts, which were both in the top 5 in the AL.
One of the most talented rich teams in the history of baseball built mainly through the Astros’ farm system, despite the cheating, keeps the 2017 team as the best season in franchise history.
After the MLBPA voted against MLB's 60-game proposal this evening, the league released a statement saying that the clubs have voted unanimously to proceed with the season under the March 26th agreement.
But first, the league says it needs two pieces of information from the players in order to set a schedule. The league needs to know whether the players can report to camp by July 1st. It also needs to know whether the players will agree on the Operation Manual, which contains health and safety protocols necessary for the 2020 season.
The league's statement read:
"Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.
The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:
In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative."
While it's not a guarantee yet, this is a significant step forward in starting the 2020 MLB season. I think we can all take a breath of relief now and start getting ready for some baseball.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.