Welcome to TSFJ's new weekly baseball column, Getaway Day. Here, we will question, shake our fists, laugh at, cry about and maybe actually enjoy baseball for what it is - seven months of heaters and homers.
The day before MLB Opening Day is usually one filled with excitement, hope and promise. Maybe your team made the postseason and just missed out on a championship. Perhaps your team made the Wild Card and added a few pieces during the offseason and you have visions of a division title in your mind. Maybe your team had a dumpster fire of a season and something in you irrationally thinks “this is the year they turn it around.” Around this time, we’d break down rosters, plus and minuses, matchups and focus on who might win the coveted end of season awards.
But the first pitch hasn’t been thrown yet and many baseball fans are already exhausted. It has nothing to do with being tired of the game itself. It has everything to do with being tired of those running the game.
When most offseason “hot stove” talk of years’ past focused on major acquisitions, this season brought about allegations of collusion and a depression of player salaries. We heard about service time and Super Twos and the possibility of a strike once the latest collective bargaining agreement expires.
We heard about Manny Machado’s lack of hustle stopping teams from offering him a big contract (until one did) and waited to find out when would Bryce Harper get his big payday - he eventually did… weeks into spring training. One of the best closers of this generation, Craig Kimbrel, doesn’t have a contract. One of the best starting pitchers in recent years, Dallas Keuchel, is currently unemployed. The desire to find the “cheaper option” - the “generic brand” of whatever current talent exists that might cost money - has become a premium among league front offices.
If you’re a baseball fan, you might have just finally gotten comfortable with math and numbers to not only embrace sabermetrics, but become a connoisseur. Now, you might need an economics degree to understand what goes on each offseason.
To say it’s depressing is an understatement.
You can’t help but be sarcastic when you hear these stories. You can’t help but be cynical.
But the season is here and a few teams have decided to be smart and put together their best roster possible, service time be damned. The Mets added highly touted first baseman Pete Alonso to the roster instead of keeping him in Triple-A for a few weeks. The San Diego Padres will start the season with top prospects Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Chris Paddack on the team.
The Toronto Blue Jays, on the other hand, struck gold when Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. injured his oblique and will keep rehabbing in Florida this week. He’ll start the season and Triple-A and will magically improve all of his attributes enough to earn an extra year of control by the franchise.
I thought the sarcasm was gone. It wasn’t. OK, I’m done now.
Let Kimbrel find a job (hopefully with the Mets). Let Keuchel catch on somewhere (hopefully with the Mets). Let’s get these games going and let’s stop talking about contracts, service time, deferred contract payments and other stuff that isn’t happening on the diamond.
Let’s (finally) play ball.
- Before we move on, let Mr. Getaway Day present to you his All-Service Time Team. This stretches from the late 2000s to now and some of these players haven’t been called up yet. Those are the parameters because I said so. Without further ado:
Evan Longoria (called up Apr. 12, 2008)
Kris Bryant (called up Apr. 17, 2015)
Bryce Harper (called up Apr. 28, 2012)
George Springer (called up Apr. 16, 2014)
Ronald Acuna Jr. (called up Apr. 25, 2018)
Eloy Jimenez (who suddenly ended up on the Opening Day roster once he signed a team-friendly deal)
Gleyber Torres (called up Apr. 22, 2018)
- Injuries already seem to be piling up before the season starts. Steve Souza, Jr. tore his ACL, his LCL and partially tore his PCL after stepping on home plate during one of the final Diamondbacks spring training games. Cleveland Indians star Francisco Lindor suffered an acute ankle sprain while running the bases in a minor league game. He was on his way back from a calf strain. I know that spring training is more for the pitchers than the hitters, but maybe it needs to be shortened a bit. Unless there’s a World Baseball Classic happening, it should be a month and a half tops. Players workout all year round now. They don’t have offseason jobs driving trucks or selling insurance anymore. They’re already in shape (most of them anyway). Enough is enough. Just look at this photo of Trevor Bauer from a recent Sports Illustrated feature. LOOK. AT. IT.
- I miss the home run sculpture in Marlins Park already.
- The rally video posted on the New York Yankees’ Twitter page is insane.
- The first year of Jacob deGrom’s deferred payment on his new contract starts the same day Bobby Bonilla’s deferred payments end. The Mets.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.