I don’t usually get excited when I hear that the owners and the players’ union in Major League Baseball have a new collective bargaining agreement. Yes, there was some worry that the process was taking too long this year, and there was even some mention of a possible lockout if they didn’t make the deadline, but with all that money on the line you knew they were extremely motivated to find common ground. But they came together and got ‘er done in time. There is something in the agreement that I didn’t know was being discussed but which directly affects part of what I do here, namely counting spits, and I am more than excited about this. I am thrilled to announce that the MLB has banned smokeless tobacco. (cue the angels singing) Hallelujah! Isn’t this incredible? Now the one caveat is that if you played at all during the 2016 season or before, you are grandfathered in and can still chew to your heart’s content, but otherwise YOU CAN’T CHEW!!! I am so excited about this!! I’m almost positive this is in response to the untimely death of Tony Gwynn a couple of years back due to salivary gland cancer. Gwynn and his family attributed his cancer to his habit of chewing tobacco. I am very proud of all those involved in making this decision as I’m sure it will not only improve the health of many players but it will almost definitely save lives. Way to go, MLB!! What a wonderful tribute to the life and talent of Tony Gwynn. Plus, I wonder if this will cause my spit counts to drastically decrease. I can only hope so!!
There were many other things decided upon in the CBA. Here are a few of the more interesting points:
- The regular season was lengthened to give the boys some extra days off. They deserve it – a 162-game season is harsh enough. And time with the family is important to their well-being.
- World Series home team advantage will now go to the team with the better record, not to the winner of the All-Star Game. This seems so much more fair to me, and I bet they’ll still take the All-Star game seriously even though there is nothing at stake any longer. They will still be on the big stage after all representing their team.
- Clubs will play games in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London over the next five years in order to increase the popularity of baseball worldwide. This can include regular season games, and the players will get extra compensation for playing in these countries. MLB is all about making the game more popular in other countries right now. Will be fun to see how fans react in other countries – not just fun for us but fun for the players. And will they still eat hot dogs? Or fish and chips?
- One thing I’m really thankful for is that the league is ramping up drug testing and making penalties for offenders harsher. There will be increased testing for human growth hormone, with double the amount of random testing during the season and triple the amount during the off-season. Players caught taking stimulants will be warned after their first offense plus have increased random testing, be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 for a third, and up to permanent suspension for a fourth violation. Plus if you are suspended, now you don’t accrue service time during the suspension, thus closing a loophole in the previous agreement.
- The league’s domestic violence policy has remained intact, plus there will be new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policies. Sad to think that this actually exists in baseball, but glad to hear they’re doing something about it.
As far as the Hot Stove League goes, still not a lot of news but a few tidbits to mention. Cory Gearrin and Ehire Adrianza were signed to one-year contracts. Gearrin will get $1.05 million plus performance bonuses, and Adrianza will get $600K while in the majors and $300K while in the minors (guess that’s how they do it when a guy will potentially be in the minors for a big chunk of the season). The Giants have also tendered offers to Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith, saving them from free agency. They will either receive a contract soon or go through the arbitration process. Regarding the opening in left field with the departure of Angel Pagan, Bobby Evans mentioned that he would like to give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson the opportunity to take that role. He’s still keeping all options open for acquiring a player, but he thinks they would do fine as well. I would have to agree with him, and I’m sure they will play better if they see more playing time. The strongest rumor to date revolves around the Giants possibly obtaining a closer. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, free agent Mark Melancon (formerly of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates) has multiple 4-year, $60 million plus offers, with the Nationals and the Giants definitely in the mix. Crasnick thinks the Giants have the strongest offer. Melancon pitched in 75 games last year for 71 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 1.34, and WHIP of 0.90, struck out 65 while only walking 12, and logged 47 saves. Hope Jerry is right and we get him. What a relief that would be (haha – get it??)!
The Winter Meetings started today in Maryland, so there will probably be some important moves made in the next few days. All 30 front offices will be there with lots of opportunity to negotiate. While doing some research, I learned that the Winter Meetings are actually a minor league networking event, but the major league teams always tag along. Can’t wait to hear some solid news. Bobby Evans, work your magic!
I’m always impressed by how active my boys are in community service. I learned recently that one of our newest members, Matt Moore, supports a charity that benefits our veterans. It’s the cycling based non-profit organization Ride 2 Recovery. They use biking to help vets get out and active. They’ve gotten many off medication in the process. They also fund research into vet related issues like PTSD. Moore did not choose a charity that supports veterans by chance. He has a personal stake. His father was in the Air Force for 23 years. One of his best friends is a combat-wounded veteran. Matt hopes that his work with the charity can reduce the extremely high suicide rate amongst vets as well. Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day. “That’s something you can’t really walk away from,” Moore said recently. “I believe that it’s our duty to take care of the people who have protected and served our country and provide help when they need it.” Nice work, Matt. If you’d like to help Matt’s cause, you can get more info at www.ride2recovery.com.
Well, I purchased our first set of game tickets for our Spring Training trip! I can almost taste those hot dogs, smell that freshly-mown grass, and feel that intense heat already! I miss everything about baseball. Will keep you posted if I hear any news about player transactions. Hopefully we’ll hear something at least about a closer soon (probably right after I post this – that seems to happen a lot!). Until next time, GO GIANTS!!