Mr. Simone: Hi Alison. First, I hope you and your family are safe and healthy during this very difficult time. This really is unprecedented. So much attention, and justifiably so, is being devoted exclusively to the health crisis and economic impact of the coronavirus on our country, and the world. But I thought we could give our readers a little respite from the news to discuss our national pastime. Anything new happening on the baseball front?
Alison Goldberg: Hello Mr. Simone! I hope you’re doing well, too. My family and I have been inside just hoping this passes soon. We’re bummed about the delay of baseball, but of course prioritize the well being of the nation. Our nights have been spent watching Moneyball and whatever baseball related film is on MLB Network! Even though baseball is on pause, the hits did NOT stop coming for my team, the New York Mets. On Sunday March 22nd, we were “enlightened” with the news that Mets’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard would be undergoing the infamous Tommy John surgery. Of course, this came as a shock at first. But then I thought back to last season…Syndergaard’s numbers were NOT up to par and it was obvious he was struggling. I couldn’t help but think he was injured, but I simply let the famous words of “it’s just an off year” erase that thought. Now look where we are. I truly do believe he had that elbow issue last season too and just didn’t want to tell anyone. He probably mentioned it at some point to someone this off season and that’s why the Mets stacked up on extra starting pitching with the acquisitions of Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello. Speaking of starting pitching, it must be bittersweet that your ace could now see Opening Day under these circumstances, right?
Mr. Simone: Well Alison, when I heard the news about Thor, I felt horrible since all of my closest friends are Mets fans. I still contend that your team will never bounce back until the owners sell. But that can be a topic for another day. Yes, the timing of this delay has certainly helped Justin Verlander recover in time for opening day, whenever that may be. With all the good will going on while the sports world is on hiatus, I was wondering if all of the animosity toward the Astros would die down a little. But I have been receiving numerous memes continuing to mock the cheating scandal. I still haven’t offered my take on this, and now doesn’t seem like the right time. Do you think that MLB should still attempt to maintain a 162 game schedule this year?
Alison: That’s a question I’ve seen being tossed back and forth in the baseball world a lot recently. There’s so many pros and cons to compare. On one hand, I just don’t believe any player would feel comfortable calling themselves a champion after playing fewer than the 162-game schedule. It just wouldn’t be the same experience, and baseball is such a traditional sport. Then the fact that they’d have to possibly play their post season games in a stadium not home to either team, just seems off. But, if the season is cut short, there is one scenario I wouldn’t mind seeing at all. I would not be opposed to a season with all inter-league play eliminated. I cannot stand the fact that it’s become so normalized for the two leagues to face each other. It completely erases the fun and excitement of an All Star Game, as well. How do you think the schedule will/should play out?
Mr. Simone: I actually like your suggestion very much. It would certainly require considerable work on the part of the schedule makers but might make a lot of sense. When they are finished with that alteration maybe they can finally decide once and for all to do away with the designated hitter (or keep it). Sorry I couldn’t help myself. This is an evolving situation and I can only imagine the various scenarios that MLB is playing out. And that doesn’t even account for what is taking place in the NBA and NHL.
Alison: Speaking of which, everyday the curve for the coronavirus goes up, the likelihood for the NHL season to continue goes down. Although the regular season only has about a month left of games, if the season picks up again I doubt that those games will be played. The only scenario I see happening is that they’d go directly into expanded Stanley Cup playoffs. I believe instead of 16 teams making the playoffs, an extra team or two will make it per division. But, if it gets too close to infringing on the NHL offseason I think the winner for the 2020 Stanley Cup title will remain vacant. What do you think about the NBA?
Mr. Simone: At this point, I don’t see any realistic chance of them completing the regular season. Best case scenario is identifying one location where they can isolate all of the players and necessary personnel, and begin the postseason. In order to increase the excitement, I think they should allow all of the teams to play a round-round tournament for the 8th seed in each conference. Then, simply conduct the playoffs as usual, but maybe with best-of-five series instead of best of seven. I know many of the experts are predicting that this could take place in Las Vegas, but I could also see them finding a suitable location in one of the states with the fewest confirmed cases (Montana, Iowa, Wyoming, North and South Dakota). The logistics of pulling any of this off must be enormously challenging. But I do think that the NBA and NHL should do whatever it takes to conduct a post-season, simply because many people could use a diversion from this unprecedented global pandemic.
It was great talking with you Alison. Please continue to be safe and I look forward to future conversations in The Shield. Maybe we could even see if former editor-in-chief and current University of Missouri freshman Shane Palma is available to offer his insight. I would love to get his thoughts on how NHL and NBA fantasy leagues should deal with this time.
Alison: Thanks Mr. Simone. I want to once again wish all members of the Floral Park Memorial community safety and comfort during this enormously challenging time. I know that everyone is facing such sadness and heartbreak in so many ways. But as Americans, we will get through this together. Be well.