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It's Been a Nightmarish 2024 for MLB so far

The early months of 2024 were unforgiving for MLB and its brand.

MLB has had no shortage of issues so far in 2024

I’d love to say Major League Baseball is hitting the ground running as Opening Day arrives. But this would make me a liar liar pants on fire. I pride myself on not being a liar liar pants on fire, so, alas, I couldn’t in good conscience say Major League Baseball is hitting the ground running as Opening Day arrived yesterday afternoon.

Spring Training, and 2024 in general, has been a hellscape for Commissioner Rob Manfred. Here’s a breakdown of the significant things that’ve gone wrong with America’s Pastime.


Wonky Rule Changes


Rob Manfred simply must change something about the game of baseball every offseason. More action. Less time. It seems like his ideal version of the sport is a 12-10 game that ends in 1:25. For better or worse, this is the direction baseball is headed.

Pickoff rule changes and bigger bases drastically increased stolen base numbers last season, and a tweak to base-blocking will likely have a similar effect. This is technically not an outright rule change, but umpires have now been instructed to enforce the runner’s right to a clear path. That is, if a fielder receiving the ball has his foot (or any body part) in front of all or a portion of the bag prior to receiving the ball, the runner is safe. Obstruction on the fielder. Fielders have long gotten away with a pseudo “block” of the base, usually by dropping a knee prior to catching the throw. They’re doing away with this bending of the already existing rule.

This play is non-reviewable. I’m sure this will not cause any issues! It also doesn’t matter if the runner is out by 30 feet. If you’re blocking the base before receiving the throw, he’s safe.

This will probably be a discussion point all season, which is annoying.

There’s also the issue of shortening the pitch clock. Pitchers now have 18 seconds to deliver the pitch with men on base, as opposed to 20 last season. They used to be able to take a breather by delaying stepping on the mound after a foul ball, since the clock was set to start once that happened. It now starts as soon as he gets the new ball, no matter where he is.

Faster pace. More runs. And, likely, more pitcher injuries.

Speaking of which…


SIDE NOTE: they fixed the runner’s lane issue. The runner’s lane now extends all the way to the edge of the  infield grass. Praise Jesus.

Injured Arms

It hurts MLB when stars like Gerrit Cole get hurt

It’s never good for the sport when marquee names get banged up before the season starts. Not that my Marlins have marquee names in their starting rotation, but Eury Perez is arguably the “next big thing” from a pitching standpoint. He’ll be sidelined to start the season with right elbow inflammation, which is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery. Braxton Garrett and Edward Cabrera are also out with injuries, and they were already going to be without 2022 NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara as he recovers from elbow surgery.

Gerrit Cole was the big one, though. Widely considered the best pitcher in the game, he too suffered right elbow inflammation and will be out multiple months. Not fun. Kodai Senga also went down. Sonny Gray went down. Alek Manoah went down. Paul Sewald. John Means. Bryan Woo. Lucas Giolito. Pitchers dropped like flies in Spring Training. Could it be the pitch clock causing too much fatigue and stress this early in their throwing process? I would bet there’s a correlation.


Prolonged Free Agencies


This seems to happen every other year or so. All-Star caliber players will hit free agency expecting to cash in on a big payday, then find themselves jobless well into Spring Training. Blake Snell. Jordan Montgomery. J.D. Martinez. Matt Chapman. Cody Bellinger. Tim Anderson. All-Star caliber players who fell victim to front offices likely trying to drive their prices down by prolonging their wait.

You don’t see this in sports with salary caps/floors. MLB owners are under no obligation to spend, and organizations like the Rays and the A’s of yesteryear have shown that you don’t need to splurge in order to put a winning product on the field. Many of these players are Scott Boras clients, the sports agent notorious for his hard negotiating style, which often gets his players mega contracts. This was not a good offseason for him. Could MLB owners be putting their foot down on Boras’s tactics? It would not surprise me if that played a part in guys like Blake Snell, fresh off his second Cy Young Award, having to wait ‘til late March to find a home.

Whatever the amalgamation of reasons is, it’s a bad look.


Uniform Debacle

Bad MLB uniforms hurt MLB's product

Who could have guessed MLB fans and players would be bitching about, of all things, uniform quality? Nike Fanatics are the new manufacturers of MLB unis, and they are off to a…less than stellar start, to say the least. The last name font is smaller and thinner. The jerseys have been described by players as feeling “cheap.” Some of the colors seem slightly off as well. Sweat stains are very noticeable.

Then you have the pants.

The Fanatics pants were the laughingstock of Spring Training for the simple reason that they are a little, ya know, see-through. You shouldn’t be able to clearly see the outline of a player’s tucked-in jersey. You also shouldn’t be able to see the outline of his balls. But that’s just me!

Rainy day games are gonna be something else.


Oakland A’s Relocation Saga


The Oakland A’s are not having an easy time moving out of Oakland, to put it mildly. MLB owners unanimously approved their relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, with plans to build a stadium in Vegas by 2028. Their lease is up at the Oakland Coliseum after this season, after which they’ll likely play in a ballpark in Sacramento for the three-year gap before the stadium is ready. The problem is, John Fisher and the rest of the owners do not seem to have a viable plan in place that Las Vegas will approve.

Vegas Mayoress Carolyn Goodman spoke plainly about MLB’s pitch in early February by saying, “This doesn’t make sense. Here’s a great site, they get a great price on it because it’s owned by the city. And yet, no, they’re going to go out – want to get closer to the Strip, with all of the congestion and everything. And I thought, ‘This does not make sense. So why is it happening?’…And then I thought because they really want to stay in Oakland. They want to be on the water. They have that magnificent dream and yet they can’t get it on.” She finished by saying, “I personally think they’ve got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland and make their dream come true.”

She later backtracked a bit by saying she was merely commenting on the passion of Oakland’s baseball community, but that she and her city are excited for the prospect of an MLB team. John Fisher and Co. need to get their shit together if they want this Vegas thing to happen. Rob Manfred can’t be happy that this deal is facing so many hurdles. What if there is a homeless MLB team in a few years?


Shohei Ohtani Investigation

This Shohei Ohtani gamlbing investigation is a nightmare for MLB

Oy. What a disaster this could be for the sport of baseball. In case you haven’t heard, Shohei Ohtani, the best baseball player on the planet and the only one to have ever done what he’s done on a baseball diamond, might be in some serious legal trouble. His former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was found to be in connection with an illegal California bookmaking operation, one that is under federal investigation. He made at least nine transactions with this bookie, each amounting to $500,000, or $4,500,000 total. These wires went through Shohei Ohtani’s bank account, each with the description of “loan.”

Originally, Ohtani’s camp, I repeat, Ohtani’s camp, claimed that these transactions were made in order to pay off Mizuhara’s gambling debt. This is what Mizuhara said in an interview, and Ohtani’s people, presumably after running it by Shohei, corroborated the story. He’s a serious gambler, who also sucks ass at it, apparently. The problem with this excuse is that it doesn’t ensure Ohtani gets off scot-free, since he is technically involved with illegal gambling.

So Ohtani and his people turned on a dime. Like, the next day. They released a new statement saying that, in fact, Mizuhara had simply stolen the money. Mizuhara and Shohei go way back. He fully trusted his interpreter and decided to give him access to some of his funds. Then he robbed him. Ohtani himself read a statement rehashing everything that allegedly happened.

Seems to me like there are three options here:

  1. Ohtani was robbed, as he said. Mizuhara is a gambling addict and shady friend. Ohtani was too trusting. But then, why the contradictory statement at the onset of the whole thing?

  2. Ohtani was covering his friend’s debt. The original story from both Mizuhara and Shohei is true. So what happens to Ohtani now? Is he in real trouble because of his involvement?

  3. Ohtani participated in the gambling, placing bets through his interpreter. The worst of the potential outcomes, of course. Ohtani will be in serious hot water now. 21st century’s Pete Rose, only worse, as Rose was not the face of baseball at the peak of his powers when he got busted.

This might hang over Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball in general the whole season and beyond. The investigation is fully under way, and Shohei has stated he is cooperating with authorities. He didn’t take any questions after he read his statement; we don’t even know which authorities he’s referring to. Journalist Tisha Thompson, who interviewed Mizuhara, did a great job breaking everything down on the Rich Eisen Show.

Shohei Ohtani is a private person on a cartoonish level. He’s Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation with a sweet left-handed stroke and 100-MPH fastball. The man got married without most people, including his teammates, knowing he even had a girlfriend. He demanded that MLB teams not mention having spoken to him during his offseason free agency negotiations. The team he did sign with, the Dodgers, got a one-minute notice that he’d chosen to sign with them before his reps announced it. For a while, he wouldn’t reveal the name of his dog. At least he allowed us to know he had one! The dog’s name is Parlay, by the way.

Kidding, it’s Dekopin. Could you imagine?

Major League Baseball really needs this Shohei Ohtani smoke to not reveal any fire. The biggest star joining an organization like the Dodgers, meaning he’ll finally be playing in meaningful October games, represents an incoming boom in viewership and revenue. This probably won’t happen if he was involved with an illegal sportsbook.


Opening Day was a joyous day, nonetheless. Here’s hoping the influx of baseball action washes away the calamities of the past few months. We, the fans, are happy to have baseball back.

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