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End the Season on Labor Day, Sept Trades, Scranton Yanks in Staten Island, Fan Interference



By Mike Silva ~ September 5th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Today is Labor Day and it’s the unofficial end of summer. School starts tomorrow, the NFL starts next Sunday, and there will be no more long weekends in the Hamptons. Should baseball end as well?

Longtime journalist Frank Deford believes so. Last week, he wrote a piece for NPR where he proposes a 140 game scheduled and expanded playoffs. Why? Because fans have been driven to football and the World Series essentially ends on Halloween- right smack in the middle of the NFL season.  Deford believes there are too many distractions for the fan after September 1st. You have college football Saturday, NFL Sunday and, of course, Fantasy Football. He also believes the problem is there aren’t enough playoff teams so many fans will be disinterested in watching members 26 through 40 of the roster fight for spring training opportunities.

First, end the season on Labor Day. A 140-game season will do just fine. Other sports are not prisoners to old records.

But second, as you reduce the regular season, add teams to the playoffs. There are only eight now, and talk of adding two more. No — double the qualifiers: 16 playoff teams, like the NBA and NHL do. Give fans hope. Even more radical, who says all playoff teams have to play protracted head-to-head series? Start off with four-team round-robins, as they do in the soccer World Cup

I like an out of the box thoughts process, but Deford goes too far. First, as a baseball fan, I still enjoy watching some of the kids come up in September. Mets fans get to see Josh Satin and Josh Stinson show they are worthy of a 25 man spot next April. Lucas Duda can continue to develop right in front of our eyes. Heck, they can root for Jose Reyes to win the batting title as potentially his Mets career winds down. Yes, there is something depressing about empty ballparks in September for teams out of contention, but some of the best baseball memories can be made during this month.

I don’t think you can end the season on Labor Day. First, the owners aren’t about to take away 22 games from the schedule. It’s hard to imagine them taking away 8 games and returning to the old 154 game sked. I like the idea of a second Wild Card, but don’t want 16 teams in the playoffs. Why have a regular season? You basically turn April to September into extended spring training. I think the second Wild Card is the answer to what Deford says ails baseball. It will keep enough teams in contention so that you don’t lose as many markets to the NFL.

If there were a second Wild Card this year you would have the current 8 postseason teams (Yankees, Boston, Texas, Detroit, Philly, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Arizona) and an additional (criteria is 5 games out or less) 7 teams fighting for the second Wild Card. Half the league would be relevant! The Mets, although 68-70, would be only 5 games back of the current #2 WC, St. Louis. If you make that second Wild Card team a play-in game it adds a crazy “winner take all” start to the playoffs.

Perhaps baseball needs to cut down the regular season by one week so you can play the end of the World Series in the third week of October. I do think baseball on Halloween or into November is a bit much. The weather is too obtuse in early April so I do support a 154 game schedule in order to end the World Series in October. I would even be ok with a 144 game schedule; like they did in the strike-shortened 1995 season. Again, I doubt the owners turn down the additional revenue, unless there is some sort of breakeven they could analyze that would guarantee them similar or additional revenue by having more than half the league in contention.

Nice concept ending the season on Labor Day, but logistically impossible.

What do you think?

***

Paul Francis “Sully” Sullivan of Sully Baseball agrees with Deford that the game should end on Labor Day. Check out his thoughts in this short video.

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Just because the August 31st postseason roster deadline passed doesn’t mean teams can’t make deals. These players, however, are not eligible for the postseason.

Howard Megdal wrote a post at MLB Trade Rumors discussing how this played a part in the 1993 baseball season. Players such as Lonnie SmithChris JamesDonn Pall, and Frank Tanana were dealt during the month. The Mets actually sent Tanana across town to the Yankees, who needed some rotation help as they attempted to catch Toronto for the American League East crown. On September 5th, the Yankees were tied for first place with Toronto. They spent a great deal of that summer neck-and-neck with the defending champs.

I am not surprised to see the Yankees go all out that season. It was the first .500 squad in the Bronx in five years. Gene Michael tried to get them over the top that summer, as many forget he acquired Lee Smith on August 31st for the stretch drive. Smith pitched 8 scoreless innings in pinstripes; saving 3 ballgames. Jim Abbott also pitched his no-hitter during that September month.

Abbott actually appeared on my show last year. You can hear him talk about that no-hitter with me by downloading the replay here.

The Mets also made a September deal that gets overlook. In 1987, with the starting rotation decimated, they acquired John Candelaria from the Angels. The “Candy Man” was a local product that graduated from La Salle Academy in New York City. He would start 3 games, and finish with a 2-0 record and 5.84 ERA. His most memorable moment came when he tossed 5 shutout innings against the Phillies at the Vet in a 1-0 Mets win. That would bring them within 2 games of the Cardinals, but they never got any closer.

Candelaria would sign with the Yankees in the offseason. Later in his career he became one of the first LOOGY’s that I could remember, as he served that role with contending teams in Los Angeles and Toronto.

***

Could the Scranton Yankees be coming to Staten Island? They could, according to Robert Pimpsner of Gotham Baseball Magazine.  Staten Island is one of several sites being considered to house Scranton, who will be displayed from their ballpark in 2012 due to a $40 million dollar renovation.

With prospects such as Dellin BetancesManny Banuelos, and Austin Romine potentially playing for Scranton in ’12, the New York fans can see firsthand the future Bombers. I have no doubt they would be able to pack the ballpark on a nightly basis.

The Baby Bombers are third in the NY-Penn League in attendance, averaging 5,700 per game in the 6,900 capacity Richmond County Ballpark. You would have to think Triple-A baseball would bring nightly sellouts, thus bringing another half-million fans out to the ballpark in a 72 game MILB home schedule.

Richmond County Ballpark is a nice park with a picturesque waterfront view. The issue is 1) its located in a lousy neighborhood and 2) the parking situation is not ideal. There is the Port Authority parking lot nearby, but I found it inconvenient to find and park. I wonder how the parking would impact nightly sellout crowds of nearly 7,000 people. If the aforementioned prospects are on the team it wouldn’t be an issues, but if they weren’t, I wonder if there would be a demand for Chris Singleton types. I still think the Triple-A novelty would hold for about a year.

The Mets would have to approve such a scenario. As we talked about numerous times this year, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday blocked the Yankees from moving their Albany affiliate to Long Island. That spurred the creation of the independent Atlantic League, and the wildly successful Long Island Ducks.

***

What did you think of the Bill Buckner narrative on Curb Your Enthusiasm? Season 8 has been classic, and I can’t remember a show that I didn’t enjoy from start to finish. There are maybe two-three shows this year that are in the pantheon of the series history. The Buckner episode might be one of them

Check out “The Ballad of Bill Buckner” by the band “The Baseball Project.”

***

Speaking of The Baseball Project, former Yankee and Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell appeared on last night’s show. I had a blast with “Black Jack,” as he remembered his time in New York and the infamous “bird” incident.

You can listen to McDowell by downloading the replay here. There is a song by The Baseball Project about McDowell called “The Yankee Flipper,” which you can also check out below.

***

Finally, there was some controversy in South Florida during yesterday’s Phillies-Marlins game.

David Villavicencio of MLB.com describes the event:

With the score tied in the sixth inning of the Marlins’ 5-4, 14-inning victory on Sunday, a Phillies fan may have cost his team a potential rally. Hunter Pence doubled to right field in the sixth, but it appeared a fan interfered with the ball.

Marlins skipper Jack McKeon came out to argue that it was fan interference. The umpires gathered to discuss the play, then went to video review and determined that the Phillies fan did interfere with the ball and ruled Pence out. Ryan Howard returned to first base.

It does look like the fan interfered with the play, but can you assume a diving catch by Peterson? The Phils protested the game, but I don’t believe they will win their argument. Maybe all the blunders by the umps this year have finally forced them to do the right thing. In the past, I doubt they review such a call, even with instant replay.

You can check out the video here in case the one below is removed from YouTube.

http://youtu.be/fakeDgwoaYo

The best part it was a group of Phillies fans who screwed up the play for their own team? Why do fans insist on reaching for balls for their own team? Don’t they know the story of Steve Bartman?

Where were the umps when this happened? Perhaps the narrative of Derek Jeter and 1996 plays out a different way.

Speaking of Bartman, there will be a 30 for 30 episode on ESPN later this Fall which looks at the infamous event during the 2003 NLCS. The director is the same guy who directed “Eron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to End the Season on Labor Day, Sept Trades, Scranton Yanks in Staten Island, Fan Interference

  1. Stu B

    “Abbott actually appeared on my show last year. You can hear him talk about that perfect game…”

    I attended that Saturday game, in which Abbott issued 5 walks. It was a no-hitter, but not a perfect game.

  2. Joseph DelGrippo

    Staten Island would be a perfect place for Triple A Scranton to play their games.

    First, the SI team does not start their season until the summer, so the first three months are basically only the Triple A games with no scheduling conflicts.

    Second, each team, SI and Scranton, are co-owned by Mandalay Sports group and the Yankees themselves.

    But those early games will be pretty cold in April.

  3. irish_eagle

    Hard to say on Phillies’ play. First, that guy with the green shirt is probably a Phillies fan, but maybe not. Maybe he’s just a neutral who stuck his hand out there. Would that be a different matter? If not, can home fans interfere with their own defenders to get outs called?

    I think interference was the right call, but not sure about the out. Very tough call. I think the rightfielder would have caught it, which maybe should be all that matters.

  4. Stu B

    Great diving catch by Buckner!

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