Photo Credit: CBS Sports

This Week In Baseball: MLB Opening Day Fallout, News and Notes:


Baseball fans are finally basking in glory as the MLB season kicked off last Thursday. With the whole world now watching, it feels calming like the return of a childhood friend, except the friend is now much shorter than you remember. Still, the return of something familiar in these times of uncertainty is surely welcomed.


That word “uncertainty” will be the theme of the 2020 season, something to which fans and players alike will have to get accustomed. Without question, the atmosphere is quite different now with the absence of people in attendance. The crack of the bat and sound of the glove is still beautiful as can be, but that eruption of a crowd when they just know a ball is a home run is going to be sorely missed this season.

It really does come down to the talents of the broadcasters that are calling the games to fill in that void. It was evident over the opening weekend that some broadcasts will struggle with entertainment value alone going forward. If there is silence in the booth, it’s even amplified with the silence of the empty ballpark.


Outbreak in Miami


Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan have reported that at least 14 players and two coaches on the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19. The call was made by the MLB to cancel the Baltimore Orioles’ home opener versus the Miami Marlins due to concerns over how many may have contracted the virus.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who played the Marlins on opening weekend, have also canceled their series against the New York Yankees in fear of being infected as well. The moves have begun a domino effect of fear amongst the league, and it will be interesting to see how many players choose to opt-out after these recent developments. The only reason we have baseball back is because of the promise to keep the players safe, and if that is compromised, then we can’t have a season. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price voiced his frustration and validated why he chose to opt-out.

“Now we REALLY get to see if MLB is going to put players’ health first. Remember when Manfred said players’ health was PARAMOUNT?! Part of the reason I’m home right now is because players’ health wasn’t being put first. I can see that hasn’t changed.”

Florida and Texas have been recently reporting the highest cases and deaths caused by COVID-19 in the United States.  Florida was once considered a sports haven of sorts, where leagues considered using the state for games and training purposes until it became a hotspot for the virus. Here’s hoping that all the players and families infected can recover without pain or loss.


Cole delivered on Opening Day


This Week In Baseball...Opening Day Preview: It's Finally Here
Photo Credit: Elite Sports

The long-awaited debut of Gerrit Cole in a Yankees uniform did not disappoint. Well, maybe for a few minutes for some fans on Twitter, quick to jump at the opportunity to say the starting ace “sucks.” He surrendered a home run to outfielder Adam Eaton in the first inning, but then… nothing else. He settled down into a focused rhythm, with five strikeouts, one walk, and threw 75 pitches through 6 innings, allowing only one hit. Good Lawd! 

Gerrit Cole had this to say to Bryan Hoch of

“I was so excited, I was walking through the clubhouse before, and I saw a bunch of guys in Yankees uniforms; I don’t know, it just hit me that this was real. I was definitely battling some adrenaline early. I had so much fun being a part of it.”

 In a funny turn of events, Cole had texted his wife, Amy: “I can’t believe I’m going to get a complete-game one-hitter in the debut!” Unfortunately, the rain caused the game to end in only six innings, after a delay of game for 1 hour and 58 minutes. This resulted in a 4-1 victory for The New York Yankees over the Washington Nationals.


The Dodgers cash in their chips on Betts 


So, we are now in the first week of baseball, how does it feel? With the excitement of Opening day now passed, the biggest news that came out last week was the contract extension of Mookie Betts. Oddly, it was for a shocking turn, but maybe it shouldn’t have been. Everyone was just expecting him to hit free agency, especially with news reporters always selling the story about his current contract situation, the current climate, and him not opting out. 

Photo Credit: USA Today

The Dodgers absolutely adore Mookie Betts, if you can’t already tell by the 12-year $365 million extension. Making the very popular and talented 27-year-old right-fielder a Dodger for life, or at least until he is on a cane. The Athletic reported more details of the contract, which includes a $65 million bonus that is still guaranteed through work stoppages and short seasons.

The deal doesn’t have any no-trade provisions, which his $115 million deferred payments would be eliminated in the event of Betts getting traded. On top of all that,  Mookie Betts agreed to annual charitable contributions of $100,000. His contract makes him the second-largest deal in baseball, behind the 12-year $426.5 million Mike Trout signed with Los Angeles Angels.

Fans of The Dodgers are on cloud nine right now, as they locked down one of the best players in baseball today and a possible MVP candidate for the National League. Not to mention, locked down a key player on top of a line-up that is just so stacked. Can you believe, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts play in the same line-up? Don’t be surprised if you see every Dodgers fan walking down the street dancing like Tobey Maguire in Spiderman 3.


“On the road again…to Buffalo”


Then we cut to the Toronto Blue Jays, on the lonesome road as drifters wandering from town to town without a place to call home. Reported by ESPN The Blue Jays weren’t allowed to play in their hometown of Toronto, due to the Canadian Government’s fear of constant incoming travel from the United States with all the risk of the increasing cases of COVID-19. Then the Blue Jays tried for PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but health officials declined them as well, making that the second jurisdiction in doing so. They have finally found a hero and home in Buffalo.


This Week In Baseball
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Right at the stroke of midnight, Toronto Blue Jays announced through their social media that Sahlen Field in Buffalo, home of their Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo Bisons would be where they play home games for the 2020 season. Here is their statement:

“The Toronto Blue Jays today announce that it will host the greater part of its home schedule at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons.

“We are extremely grateful to have a home in Buffalo this season, thanks to the openness, creativity, and partnership of the Buffalo Bisons, Major League Baseball, and Blue Jays staff, who have worked tirelessly to prepare us for games at Sahlen Field,” said Mark Shapiro, President & CEO, Toronto Blue Jays. “This process has no doubt tested our team’s resilience, but our players and staff refuse to make excuses – we are determined to take the field on Opening Day today, and for the coming months with the same intensity and competitiveness that our fans expect.”

The club would like to thank the Buffalo Bisons organization; Mayor Brown of the City of Buffalo and Governor Cuomo of New York State; Buffalo-area residents who have enthusiastically welcomed Blue Jays players and fans to Sahlen Field for the better part of the decade; Commissioner Manfred and Major League Baseball; and other Major and Minor League clubs that were willing to open their doors to the team.


This Week In Baseball
Photo Credit: Toronto Star

This year – and baseball season – will be unlike any other, and the team cannot thank Blue Jays fans enough for their heartfelt passion and support. Tonight, we will celebrate the return of baseball with Opening Day vs. the Tampa Bay Rays at 6:40 p.m., knowing that no matter where we are playing, the Blue Jays will take the field with pride for our fans, city, and country, the way we always have. We hope that you will join us in the celebration and cannot wait for the day we return to Rogers Centre.”

It is a scary time, with so many states having concerns about just keeping people safe. A month ago, Dunedin Florida was considered to be The Blue Jays site of home games until their COVID-19 cases spiked to an alarming rate, making it a hot spot.  Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont was also trying for Dunkin’ Donuts Park (Home to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats) in Connecticut to be the Blue Jays eventual landing spot. It is great to see the Blue Jays have finally found a nest for the time being.


Embracing the movement.


The other topic of discussion, the kneeling of players in baseball, has people divided and is causing reactions from throughout social media. The overall question being asked, “Is it degrading the flag or the soldiers that have fought so hard for our country?” Baseball escaped this wrath years prior when football players began to kneel during the National Anthem in raising awareness of the social injustices going on in the country, then were punished for it.


This Week In Baseball
Photo Credit: MLB

MLB seems to be taking the opposite approach, giving the BLM movement more ground and power than the NFL did. Especially with the way the NFL went about handling the situation. Now the movement is too big to ignore; you can’t sweep this under the rug any longer.  

Throughout opening weekend, MLB and the players were in unison with some kneeling, and those standing kept their hands placed on their fellow player’s shoulders, creating a beautiful image of brotherhood. The players still pledged allegiance with their hands over their hearts as they kneeled in support of the eradication of systematic racism. 

Giants outfielder Jaylin Davis took to Twitter last week to explain his decision to kneel along with other members of the ballclub:

“I want first to come out and say that the decision I made to take a knee last night has nothing to do with how I feel about the flag or the people that are serving or have served our country (such as both of my grandfathers). I am truly grateful for the sacrifices that every one of you have made for our country.

On the other hand, I vowed to use my platform to speak up for what I believe in, and I plan on doing that. I believe the only way anything is going to change is by keeping the conversation going about racial injustice and not letting it get pushed to the side. I’m very grateful to be a part of an organization that supports its players for expressing what they believe in, and I am proud to be a Giant!”

The Giants manager Gabe Kapler became the first manager to ever kneel during the National Anthem. Kapler explained his plans to his team last week and that the Giants organization supports everyone no matter what they decide to do.

“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices, and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country.”



This unfortunately will cause an argument that will escalate long beyond the walls of baseball, where stats mean nothing compared to the problems out in the real world. This is an argument of a much more deeply rooted problem. People can argue that sports are supposed to be our escape from the harsh realities around us, where there is no war, no poverty or hatred. Instead, tune out the news and be entertained for those few hours away. But those atrocities are still being committed.  The message being sent by the MLB is: “If you just turn your head and ignore something, it never truly goes away.”

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