HOF 2023

It’s that time again; one of the surest signs that Spring Training is on the way: the Hall of Fame votes have been announced.

Once again, only one player made it into the Hall: Scott Rolen, making the jump from 63.2% of the votes, past the magic number of 75%, all the way to election with 5 votes to spare at 76.3%. Welcome, Scott!

At the other end of the voting, seven players failed to garner a single nod. Five more scraped up a single sympathy vote, and, to my surprise, nobody had more than one. The next lowest total was Torii Hunter hanging onto the ballot for another year with nearly 7%.

I don’t have any significant disagreements at either end of the balloting. I’d have liked to see R.A. Dickey get a few more votes in recognition of his contributions to the art of the knuckleball, but even there, I agree with the voters that his career wasn’t Hall-worthy. And I’ve got no problem with Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, and/or Gary Sheffield being elected; none of them made it this year, but they all had significant jumps, at least in part because the Bonds/Clemens logjam is gone.

As for those guys in the middle, there are arguments to be had.

Alex Rodriguez, for one. Last year, he scored 34.3% on 135 votes. This year, he soared to 139 votes, good for 35.7%. I like this trend. If it continues, he’ll hit 171 votes (somewhere around 58%) in his final year of eligibility. I’m more than okay with that.

On the other hand, we’ve got Omar Visquel. IMNSHO, he belongs in the Hall. But his 19.5% score this year is a significant drop from last year’s 23.9%. I don’t see him falling off the ballot before his eligibility runs out after 2027, but I don’t see him getting elected either.

All in all, 2023 was a quiet year as far as Cooperstown was concerned. Next year should be more interesting, though. There are several newcomers to the ballot I expect to make the cut: Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, and Bartolo Colon spring to mind. But will any of them get in on their first ballots? Somehow I doubt it.

Only a bit over two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Three weeks until positions players check in. And the first exhibition games are a mere three and a half weeks away. Everyone ready for something resembling baseball?

SAST 21

I’m not sure what’s causing it, but linear thought and get-up-and-go seem to have deserted me this week. The calendar says it’s Wednesday, but my brain is absolutely convinced it’s Monday. Except during those intervals where it decides that two Mondays in three days is a really bad idea and declares it to be Septober 37th.

So, a few quick hits, dashed off many, many hours after my self-imposed posting deadline.

I imagine you’ve heard that Google is releasing new hardware. The Pixel 7 series of phones are evolutionary advances over the Pixel 6 series. Better in some marketing-influenced way (keep in mind that most of the significant changes are in software and will undoubtedly roll down to the older generation in due course). A few cosmetic tweaks. If you’ve got a 6, I don’t see any really compelling reason to upgrade.

Then there’s the Pixel Watch. Which really comes across as a Apple Watch wannabe. It’s got Fitbit integration and the necessary sensors to allow it to do most of the health-related things the Apple Watch does. It also has a claimed 24 hour battery life, so–like the Apple Watch–you’re going to be charging it every day. Remember when watches, even “smart” watches, could run for a week or two on a single charge? Actually, you can still find ones that can do that, but the Big Two are so determined to make watches into do-everything devices, you’re never going to find one with a Big A or Big G butt stamp. (And, yes I am bitter about Google’s decision to use a proprietary method of attaching the band, rather than allowing users to customize with the millions of bands that are already on the market.)

What else? Pixel Tablet. Not coming out until next year; plenty of time for them to release specs and hype before we see it. Nest Wifi Pro. Nest Doorbell (Wired). Great if you need ’em, zero interest for most of the world’s population.

Moving on.

Yes, of course I watched the Mariners’ first game against their nemesis, Houston yesterday.

Yes, of course I’m bitterly disappointed in how it turned out.

But no, I’m not going to second guess. I’m just going to say, “Seattle sports. sigh“.

‘Nother game in Tejas tomorrow. Hopefully with a happier ending: it’s a best of five series, so losing both games in Houston would force the Mariners to win three straight. I’m not sure they’ve ever won three in a row from the Astros.

Meanwhile…

Microsoft announced new hardware yesterday too.

The Surface Pro 9 comes with your choice of an Intel CPU or a Microsoft-designed chip, the SQ3. Because abandoning the “Surface Pro X” branding that distinguished between the two product lines isn’t going to cause major confusion among consumers. I forsee lots of returns when people discover their new laptop won’t run all the software they want to put on it. Heck, people still haven’t figured out the “S-mode” app restrictions yet.

That aside, they both look like solid machines in that thin-and-light aka two-in-one space. Microsoft has finally moved from USB-C to full-blown Thunderbolt 4, at least on the Intel machines. That’s progress.

There’s also the Surface Laptop 5. Thunderbolt there, too, along with overall decent specs at a reasonable price. Still a really low budget webcam, though. You’ll probably want to invest in a USB camera if you’re a serious Zoomer.

Other announcements are much less exciting. The Surface Studio 2 is getting a “+”: not enough of an upgrade for Microsoft to justify bumping it to “3”. New “Designer” software if you have a Microsoft 365 subscription. New hardware with a focus on accessibility*. Presentation and audio hardware designed to make online meetings better.

* I’m not casting aspersions at Microsoft by lumping it into the “not very exciting category”. It’s seriously great news for those who can’t use conventional mice and/or keyboards and I give Microsoft major props for going down this path. But the regrettable truth is that 90+% of the computer-using public isn’t going to care one way or the other.

The only thing that really made me sit up and take notice (for the few seconds my brain allowed) is the note that Windows will be able to automatically synchronize pictures from “the iOS Photos app” (i.e. iCloud). Done well, this will remove a major pain point for any Windows user with an iPhone. Done poorly, well, we won’t be any worse off than we are right now.

Oh, Is It October Already?

I’m rarely so pleased to be wrong.

Not only did the playoff battle not come down to the last day–the Phillies wrapped up the last slot on Monday–but despite having clinched a spot last week, attendance in Seattle remains high.

I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon (while I watch Aaron Judge try for his 62nd home run of the season) so there are still some positional battles remaining: will Seattle or Tampa Bay be the sixth seed in the AL; will Atlanta or New York win the NL East, relegating the loser to the top Wild Card slot; and will Philadelphia squeak ahead of San Diego into the NL fifth seed?

(Update just prior to posting: the positional shuffling is done, Judge hit Number 62–in the second game of the double-header, after I’d switched to watching the Mariners–so all that’s left for today is pure baseball, untouched by any concern greater than “Don’t get hurt, guys!”)

Final positioning aside, since the teams are set, it’s time to have our usual pre-post-season discussions.

Let’s start with my results for the season. Historically, I’ve hit somewhere between .500 and .700 in picking playoff teams. Pretty darn good as a batting average, downright sucky as a fielding percentage. And, of course, this year the playoffs have expanded from eight teams to twelve, giving me plenty of room to do a lot worse.

In the NL, I picked the Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, and Rockies.

Oops.

Mets and Dodgers, yes. Padres, too. But the Giants missed the playoffs by seven games, the Cubs by fourteen, and the Rockies by a depressing twenty. In their places, we got the Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies. Fifty percent on the senior circuit.

In the AL, well… I had the Yankees, Guardians, Athletics, White Sox, Astros, and Rangers.

Reality has the Yankees, Guardians, and Astros. And also the Blue Jays, Mariners, and Rays.

Fifty percent there, too. Prognostication is a tough game; nice to know I can play it consistently, if not necessarily well.

Moving on. If your team made the playoffs, you already know who you’re rooting for. If your guys came up short, or if you don’t have a regular team*, here’s how to choose a rooting interest this year.

* Only following baseball during the playoffs is much like only going to church at Christmas. We’re happy to see your butt in a pew, but we’d be even happier to see you there the rest of the year. But I digress.

Briefly, you can NOT root for a team that claims to be everyone’s team. If you have a team that didn’t make the playoffs, you shouldn’t root for a team in the other league or one in your team’s division. And, because everyone loves an underdog, teams with a record of futility get bonus points. (You can read the full rules in the 2019 Playoff post.)

So, that said, the only people who should be rooting for the Dodgers, Braves, and Yankees are the ones who root for them during the regular season. Last year I had the Astros on the list as well, due to the cheating scandals; I’m inclined to keep them there this year*, futile though I know it is. On the other side, bonus points for sustained futility before this year go to Seattle (21 years without a post-season appearance) and Philadelphia (11 years sitting out October); additional bonus points to the Mariners for never having been in the World Series (46 years and counting), and a slightly smaller quantity of bonus points to the Padres and Blue Jays (respectively, 24 and 29 years since their last World Series).

* Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?

So, if you’re officially unaffiliated, Seattle is your obvious choice; if you have a vague NL affiliation, pull for Philadelphia.

If you normally root for an AL East or Central team, again, you should be pulling for the Mariners; if you normally follow Texas, Oakland, or LA, Toronto is your best choice. Similarly, if you’re usually an NL East or Central fan, latch on to the Padres; San Francisco, Arizona, and Colorado fans, hold those Phillies close to your hearts (though nobody can blame you if you would rather pull for the Cardinals.)

And, now that we all know who we’re rooting for, I’m going to spoil all your fun by telling you who’s actually going to the World Series and who’s going to win.

As usual, the Dodgers have the best run differential in MLB, a staggering +332, as I write this. (Parenthetically, based on their respective run differentials, I expect the Braves to beat out the Mets for the NL East title. sigh)

Their opponent in the Series will naturally be the Yankees (+242) with the Astros as a possible dark horse (only +208, but with the second-best winning percentage at .650). Either way, it will again be a Series between two Rule One teams.

But can that stellar run differential carry the Dodgers through the World Series? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no. Just look at their recent history. Yes, they won it all in 2020–the COVID-shortened season. But in their most recent eight full-season playoff appearances, they’ve only made it to the World Series twice (2017 and 2018), losing both times. In the other six, they’ve been eliminated in their first round three times (2014, 2015, 2019) and their second round twice (2013, 2016). That’s not what I’d call a record of sustained excellence.

It’s gonna be the Yankees. Unless it’s the Astros. double sigh

And Here We Are

I’m writing this post Tuesday afternoon–we’re just about a week from the end of the regular season–and the Mariners are determined to be the Mariners.

A week ago, they had a reasonably solid grip on the playoffs, with a five game lead over the next closest team. Not a cinch, but wildly encouraging for those of us who are old enough to remember the last time the Ms played a post-season game.

There are, by the way, at least a dozen players on their 40 Man Roster who are too young to remember anything from October 22, 2001.

But again, Mariners: a subset of Seattle sports. They’ve managed to lose seven of their past ten games, and only the fact that the Orioles haven’t managed to do any better than .500 has kept Seattle in that third Wild Card spot. Nineteen games remaining: ten for Seattle, nine for Baltimore. Six Orioles’ losses, Mariners’ wins, or any combination adding up to six eliminates Baltimore and probably* clinches a playoff spot for Seattle.

* Chicago and Minnesota could still be spoilers. But for the Twins to boot Seattle out of the playoffs would require them to win all of their remaining games and Seattle to lose all of theirs. Even for a Seattle team, that’s a stretch. Chicago’s chances aren’t much better: three Seattle wins in these last ten games–the same record they’ve accumulated over the past week and a half, remember–would end Chicago’s run.

But, the Baseball Gods forbid the Race For the Playoffs to be settled without drama. And, yes, one has to admire the Ms’ willingness to look bad* in the interest of keeping interest high. Let’s face it, this is Seattle we’re talking about. As soon as the Mariners clinch–assuming they do–attendance at T-Mob is going to crater for the rest of the regular season. (Seattle is far from unique in that regard: there’s a reason why teams schedule special games–Fan Appreciation Day, Oktoberfest, Kids Run the Bases, and suchlike–during the last week of the season. Can’t get butts in seats without some intrigue; can’t find some excitement? Invent some!)

* Giving up eleven runs in one inning, and still losing by a single run? That’s drama, that is.

But Seattle teams excel at stretching drama, often until it snaps in their faces. How many times this century have the Mariners been eliminated on the last day of the season? I won’t be a bit surprised if this year’s postseason isn’t settled until the final games of the season*.

* Wednesday, October 5. Mariners/Tigers, Orioles/Blue Jays, and (for the sake of completeness) White Sox/Twins.

Of course, it being a work day, with all games starting at 4:00 (give or take a few minutes) I won’t get to watch any of them.

The Baseball Gods are cruel. It’s a well-known fact.

Mind you, I’d love to see both the Mariners and Orioles make the playoffs, even if it did mean they’d be facing each other. It could happen: Tampa Bay is only half a game ahead of the Mariners, and six of their last nine games will be against teams that have clinched playoff spots. If they were to go, say, 3-6, while the Mariners go 5-5, all Baltimore would have to do snag the last slot would be winning eight of nine*. A pair of four-game winning streaks would do it. Happens all the time, right?

* Unfortunately, Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker–head to head record–over both Seattle and Baltimore.

Okay, it’s unlikely to happen. But you gotta admit, the odds are slightly better than the Twins’ chances of playing past next Wednesday. (Before any games were played Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight had the Orioles odds at 1%–which does, of course, include the possibility of leapfrogging Seattle, but not Tampa Bay–and Minnesota’s at the uninformative “<1%”*.

* Come on, gang, tell us how much less than one percent they are!

As I said, here we are. The thrill of defeat, the agony of victory, isn’t that how it goes? Close enough, anyway.

See you at the ballpark.

A Little Different This Time

Now that we’ve arrived at the All Star Break, I took a look back at my last few ASB posts. There’s a consistent thread running through those posts: all of the teams I root for suck.

This year, not so much. The Mets are sitting on top of the NL East with a solid six game lead over Atlanta, the Giants are a mere half game out of the third NL Wild Card slot, and the Orioles have a respectable* .500 record (and are only three and a half out of the Wild Card).

* When it comes to baseball, I define “respectable” as .500 or better. So, okay, yes, the O’s are there by the thinnest of possible margins. But there they indeed are.

And then there are the Mariners. A fourteen game winning streak has brought them from irrelevant unrespectability to nine games over .500, the second Wild Card slot, and–with seven of their first ten after the break against Houston–a chance to challenge for the division.

The streak can’t last forever; it’s one short of their best-ever, and even if they surpass that mark, the all-time longest winning streak is 26. That was set in 1916, a lapse of time which should give you a very clear picture of just how hard it is to string together wins in MLB. And, let’s face it, the All Star Break has ruined more than a few winning streaks; momentum is a thing. But the beauty of baseball and the 162-game schedule is that you don’t need to win every game to succeed. Just win consistently.

But enough daydreaming.

I’m writing this post Tuesday afternoon. The actual All Star Game is tonight, which means yesterday was the Home Run Derby. The universe being the intermittently cruel place that it is, I was at work. And I especially wanted to watch this year, what with the Mariners connection: Julio Rodriguez. At the very least, he figured to erase the pitiful performance we got from the last M to play Derby (Cano, 2016: 7 home runs).

I hate watching pre-recorded sporting events. It’s too hard to avoid spoilers, and cheering your favorites doesn’t give them any help*.

* Of course cheering for your team while watching on TV helps them. Well-known scientific fact. But if cheering worked retroactively, teams with small fan bases would never win: the fans rooting for the Yankees to complete their 162-game sweep would drown them out every time.

I recorded it anyway and watched it earlier today.

Let me tell you, Rodriguez put on the most impressive rookie performance since Aaron Judge in 2017. He didn’t hit as many long bombs as Judge had, but a total across the three rounds of 81? Holy Flying Salmon! (For the record, Judge only needed 47 for his win.) He didn’t win–that was Juan Soto–but he sure turned a lot of heads.

Soto, by the way, is available for a trade, and just about every team within sniffing distance of contention would love to have him. He’ll be expensive; probably too expensive for the Mariners, still smarting from the result of that huge contract they gave the aforementioned Robinson Cano. But can you imagine how much opposing pitchers would hate to face the reigning Derby winner and runner-up hitting back to back?

I know, I know. I said “enough daydreaming”. But some dreams are irresistible.

2022 Prognostication

It’s time for me to make my predictions for the 2022 playoffs. And, since there’s a new playoff format–12 teams instead of 10, with an additional Wild Card team with no tiebreaker games–I’m going to tweak my approach.

My picks are, as in previous years, primarily based on Run Differential, modified by record and prejudice. This year, however, I’m going to throw out the record and just go with the traditional “personal prejudice” metric.

With no further ado, our American League playoff teams.

The East winner will be the Yankees (spit) with a +4 RD.

In the Central, it’s the IndiansNoNamesGuardians with a staggering +23 RD through their first six games.

The West will be won by the Athletics (spit) at +12.

And our Wild Card teams are going to be the White Sox (+10), Houston (+10), and Texas (+3). For seeding purposes, MLB would award the top Wild Card spot to Houston, based on their 3-1 record against teams in their own division. Since I’m only predicting teams, not their relative ranking, I won’t argue MLB’s methodology.

Turning our attention to the National League, the picture is even simpler.

In the East, nobody is even close to the Mets’ +15.

The Cubs have a firm grip on the Central with a +9 RD.

And the West winner can only be the Dodgers (spit) thanks to their +14 record.

Which means that all three Wild Card teams are coming out of the West: the Giants (+11), Padres (+10), and Rockies (+6).

One has to pity the Diamondbacks; the only NL West team sitting out of the playoffs this year.

Just as a side-note, the two teams trailing their respective leagues–and guaranteed to miss the playoffs with identical -17 RDs–are the Royals and Nationals. Sorry, Kansas City; but a big Simpsonsesque “Ha-Ha” to Washington.

SAST 18

[Administrative Note: The last SAST post was 19. The one before that was 17. Oops. Consider this a modest nod in the direction of numerical consistency.]

I was pondering the fact that the two stories everyone knows about George Washington both involve wood. That is, of course, that he chopped down a cherry tree and that he wore wooden dentures.

The first, obviously, is a myth. But I wondered if the infamous dentures were made of cherry wood. That would be at least an amusing coincidence–because the tree-chopping legend surely doesn’t predate the real dental appliance–and possibly even a source of the legend.

So, a bit of research ensued. And, annoyingly, it turns out that the wooden dentures story is totally fictional as well.

Okay, not totally. George did wear dentures. Just not wooden ones.

Still, it does leave room for some creative fictionalizing. Anyone want to help spread the story that President Washington’s wooden dentures were made from the very same tree he chopped down as a nipper (sorry)?

Moving on.

Gotta love the rumor mill.

There was a rumor making the rounds that Apple was going to release a new Mac Mini this year. Perfectly logical: the entry level Mini now has an M1 chip, but the high end Mini still has an Intel processor. Gotta have a high-end M1 Mini, right?

Then Apple introduced the Mac Studio. Which is, to all intents and purposes, an ultra-high-end Mini.

So now, of course, the rumor is that Apple is not going to come out with a new Mini this year. It will be next year.

Personally, I don’t see why we even need a high-end Mini. The original Mini was unveiled as a “bring your own peripherals” deal that would let Apple sell you on their hardware and software at a significantly lower price than the rest of their line. It’s still a great idea, and the M1 Mini fits the niche admirably.

Leave it at that, Apple. Keep the Mini low-end and low-rent and let the people who need power go with the Studio.

Moving on again.

Thanks to Eric for pointing me at this article in Politico.

There isn’t much in it that will be new to anyone paying attention to the Oakland As efforts to convince the city to give them a dream platter of goodies–though I’m somewhat amused by the author’s characterization of the Mets as the antithesis of the As.

What struck me while I was reading it, though, was the thought that perhaps we’ve been misreading the situation. The team’s ownership keeps presenting it as “give us what we want or we’re moving to Vegas.”

Totally standard sports team tactics. Except that the Athletics keep moving the fences back. Every time it starts to seem that they’re going to get what they’re asking for, they add something to their demands.

At this point, they’re promising to put $12 billion dollars into constructing their megafacility–if. Given the typical lack of correspondence between construction estimates and actual costs, the bill is likely to be closer to $25 billion than the twelve the team is promising.

What if the As ownership doesn’t want to get handed their dream package? If the city coughs up the land, the tax district, and whatever add-on gets added to the demands next, then ownership is on the hook for those big bucks.

I’m starting to think they want the deal to be rejected. They’re just looking for an excuse to head for Nevada, where they can rejoice in actually being a small market team, rather than having to fake it enough to get those subsidies from the teams in larger markets.

At this point, I’m almost ready to hope Oakland does give the As’ ownership everything they’ve asked for, just so I can see what kind of verbal gymnastics they go through in denying they’d ever promised to build a ballpark…

And, finally, on another baseball related note:

Commissioner Manfred (spit) is trying to butter up the players. He’s gifted every player on a big league roster with a pair of $200 Beats headphones.

Let us not forget that, under the just-signed collective bargaining agreement, every one of those guys is making at least $700,000 this year. I think they can probably afford their own headphones–and probably already have a set or six.

Hey, Rob! Instead of making nice on the players–who aren’t going to believe for an instant that you’re on their side, or even that you like them–why don’t you try making nice on the fans? You know, the folks who contribute the money that lets owners pay those players, not to mention the salary that you used to buy all those headphones.

We could really use a no-local-blackouts, no social-media-exclusives broadcast package.

Remarkably Relaxing

When approached with the proper attitude, Spring Training exhibition games are amazingly relaxing. The games don’t matter*, so it’s easy to disengage from the score. Nobody cares who wins the Cactus or Grapefruit League titles, not even those teams’ fans. There’s no advantage carried into the regular season.

* Ignore anyone who tries to tell you that the regular season games don’t matter either. Obviously a heathen.

You can take the games as they come. Pitcher can’t find the strike zone? No matter. Last year’s Gold Glove shortstop bobbles three ground balls in one inning? ‘Sokay. Pricey new slugger can’t lay off the fastball a foot over his head? Eh, he’ll figure it out.

I’ve almost reached the point where I can watch the Yankees win a game and not swear. (Not that I’ve had much opportunity to practice that particular skill this year. As I write this Tuesday afternoon, the Yanks are 1-2 and are losing to the Blue Jays.)

Team stats don’t matter. If they did, I’d be calling our World Series teams now. (Red Sox versus Brewers–both currently have a +21 run differential. I don’t know about you, but I’d rate the probability of that happening as “very low”. For what it’s worth, BetMGM agrees: their picks are the Dodgers and White Sox.)

Neither, for that matter, do individual stats. Does anybody think Jose Rojas is going to keep his 2.278 OPS into the regular season? No? There are eight pitchers who have yet to let anyone on base. They’re not going to do that for long in the regular season–and at the other extreme, I’d put long odds against Caleb Smith continuing to give up three and two-thirds walks and hits per inning.

What isn’t relaxing is trying to actually watch or listen to the games. MLB’s app has always been notoriously bad in the preseason, but this year they’ve outdone themselves. Reports of audio streams cutting out every few minutes are rampant, and many are reporting video problems as well. In my case, it’s been even worse: I couldn’t even start the audio streams because the buttons weren’t tappable (or rather, nothing happened when they were tapped). Any attempt to start a video stream gave a generic “something went wrong” error*.

* I seem to have fixed the non-responsive buttons and the video errors by deleting all the app’s data and setting it up again from scratch. So now I just have to deal with the audio stream cutting out every couple of minutes–not good when trying to listen to a game in the car.

And, of course, MLB’s response is to tell anyone who complains to read their troubleshooting webpage, which offers such helpful suggestions as “MLB Audio does not broadcast pre-game or post-game shows , and may not broadcast during rain delays or commercials.” That’s great, but it’s no help at all for the playback not starting.

That said, radios and TVs still work. We can get our baseball fixes via local broadcasts. History suggests MLB will have stomped on most of the app bugs by the time the season starts–or at least by the end of June, just in time for the update they’ll be issuing for the All Star Game to break everything again.

While We’re Waiting

No baseball.

Yes, I know. We’ve got college ball. We’ll have minor league baseball shortly. Odds are, if MLB doesn’t give us any signs of progress, we’ll get Korean and Japanese baseball on TV.

But for many of us, that’s all methadone. We want the full-on MLB experience.

Maybe not every little bit of it. I, for one, could do without the outrageously expensive tickets, the TV blackouts, or the looming threat of robot umpires. Which probably gives you some idea of which side of the labor strife I’m on.

Not that I think the players are blameless either. But I’m sympathetic to their desire to make the most of their skills.

I had a dream. No, not literally. That was last week.

But I dreamt that Congress found something to unite behind: revoking MLB’s anti-trust exemption. With that and a few other changes, a rival league could rise up. Maybe one of the independent leagues could catch major attention with a retro approach, rolling back all of the oddball experiments MLB has inflicted on us. Or go the other way, trying a bunch of experiments to see what really works–like the original XFL, but with a dose of sanity.

Of course, none of that would work without access to players. So the other half of the dream is to free up the players, which would require additional legislation. The goal would be to break the bonds that tie players to a single team from Day One. So, block the draft and require that MLB contracts be subject to “At Will” requirements.

A software engineer at Google can over to Apple–or go independent with her own startup–without Apple having to send Google two QA Analysts to be named later. So why can’t a ballplayer with, say, the Phillies, send a note to the Orioles–or the Austin Weirdos*–“Hey, I hear you’re looking for a second baseman. I’m having a breakout year; what’s 6 WAR worth to you?”

* Currently in the Pecos independent league. But in a new regulatory regime, who knows?

Obviously, there’d need to be some limitations. But any league could set their own rules: no player hired after such-and-such a date can play in the playoffs, for example. Or in our hypothetical XBL, maybe players hired in the last month of the season or during the playoffs have to wear flat shoes instead of cleats.

None of the above is ever going to happen, of course. MLB is too good at defending its turf. But our current freedom from MLB means we’ve got some freedom to make our own 2022 season.