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Sunday, May 31, 2020

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MLBPA proposes 114-game season beginning June 30

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The Major League Baseball Players Association waited several days to send a counter-proposal to the league’s owners, and now we know why: the players don’t feel they need much time to get ready to begin a season.

According to information from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, the MLBPA sent a proposal to the league on Sunday for a 114-game season that would run from June 30-October 31. Their proposal would allow for any player who feels unsafe to opt out of playing and still receive service time. Those who are considered “high-risk” and opt out would be paid and receive service time, under this proposal.

The players would also defer $100 million in case no postseason is played.

Now it will be up to the owners to respond to the counter-proposal.

The good news for fans hoping for a season is that at least the sides are negotiating and will hopefully meet somewhere in the middle so that a season will take place.

There has been talk on both sides about whether the owners want a shutdown or a season, but we still firmly believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to play.

Cam Reddish says he struggled to adjust to length of NBA season

Cam Reddish

Cam Reddish produced modestly for the Atlanta Hawks as a rookie, and he may get even better once he is fully accustomed to the demands of the NBA.

Speaking this weekend with the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Sarah K. Spencer, Reddish said that he struggled to adjust to the length of the season.

“It’s pretty hectic, and the adjustment was a little crazy,” he said. “But that was one of the biggest things I picked up on, how long the season was. I had to really take care of my body, eat the right things, stuff like that.”

“My entire life, I could pretty much just get up and go. And just play,” added Reddish. “But it’s a really long season. The games are long, you’ve got back-to-backs, you’re going from Miami to L.A., L.A. to Minnesota, it’s craziness. But it’s fun, once you get used to it, once you figure out your routine.”

The 20-year-old Reddish, who was the No. 10 overall pick in last year’s draft, was averaging 10.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Hawks. He also played in 58 of 67 games for the Hawks, logging 26.7 minutes a night (above-average for a rookie), which may help explain why he was a little burnt out.

Reddish was also somewhat in flux when it came to his role on the court, so hopefully the ex-Duke star will be more in his comfort zone by next season.

Lance Armstrong open to his son taking PEDs

Lance Armstrong

Performance-enhancing drugs played a large role in both the rise and the fall of Lance Armstrong. Even though his use and subsequent lies about taking substances have helped turned Armstrong into a figure despised by many, he still is not completely opposed to them.

Armstrong was interviewed for the two-part documentary about him called “Lance” that is being aired by ESPN. He was asked how he would feel if his son, a college football, said he wanted to take PEDs.

“I would say that’s a bad idea. You’re a freshman in college. It might be a different conversation if you’re in the NFL. But at this point in your life and your career, not worth it,” Armstrong said.

The quote makes it clear that Armstrong is open to PEDs for his son depending on the circumstances. It has to be factored into a cost-benefit analysis for him. And what does that mean? He still endorses cheating, which is why so many people dislike him.

Shohei Ohtani, Griffin Canning back to throwing live BP for Angels

Shohei Ohtani

The Los Angeles Angels are getting some encouraging developments with a couple of their pitchers who are recovering from injury.

Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reported on Sunday that Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning have each thrown three sessions of live batting practice at about 55 pitches each, adding that they will remain at that level for now.

Ohtani continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in fall 2018. Canning, meanwhile, was diagnosed with “chronic changes” to the UCL of his throwing elbow in February and has been treading cautiously since then. Both represent top-of-the-line starters for the Angels if healthy.

Angels GM Billy Eppler expressed concerns about the ability to progress to live BP in recent weeks, but the two pitchers appear to have overcome that hurdle as they continue to await word about the 2020 season.

The worst may be yet to come in MLB’s owner-player standoff

Rob Manfred

For those who have followed Major League Baseball in recent years, the current acrimony between the league’s owners and players should not come as a surprise. The game’s economic system has been problematic for players for years, and the postponement of the start of the season — and associated questions about salary — has pushed many over the edge.

Though we don’t know how the current standoff will be resolved — or even if it will be — there is reason to believe that it may get worse before it gets better. The 2021 season is set to be the final one played under the current collective bargaining agreement, and the difficulty of those negotiations could put the current issues to shame.

Players have been looking ahead to the upcoming labor negotiations for some time now, as they are increasingly disillusioned with an economic system that they feel gives them less and less of the league’s revenue even as those revenues rise. Teams have also started to figure out ways to spend their money more efficiently — often to the detriment of players. As teams have grown more aware of the notion that handing out long-term contracts to free agents past the age of 30 rarely affords full value, the economic model has made less and less sense for players. It came to a head in 2019, when the long-term contract demands of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado left them unsigned into the spring. Add in complaints about service time manipulation and an increased emphasis on keeping payrolls down and building around younger, cheaper players means veterans are understandably frustrated with the way the system works for them.

To be clear, owners and front offices cannot be blamed for everything. The strategies the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros have used — clearing out deadwood, lowering payroll, losing games, drafting high, and spending when the moment is right — have led to championships. Baseball has no mechanism to protect against tanking, or anything akin to it. With revenues at an all-time high and revenue sharing in place, owners don’t really have an incentive to spend, as teams can make money even with mediocre attendance figures provided their payroll is relatively low. If the system allows for teams to keep a player in the minors for an extra month in exchange for an extra year of team control, no organization could be expected to ignore that out of the goodness of their hearts when team control is so key to roster building. It’s also entirely logical to avoid handing out long-term high-dollar contracts to 31- or 32-year-olds — paying for a post-prime player’s prime production simply isn’t smart business.

That’s why MLB players are frustrated with a system that allows for this. In their view, service time shouldn’t be so easy to exploit. Measures need to be taken to incentivize winning, or at least disincentivize tanking. Players need to be able to reach free agency before they’re in their 30s. And the MLBPA also wants to see major changes to the luxury tax, which it views as not in line with league revenues and acting too much like a de facto salary cap.

Owners aren’t going to want to give any of this away, and players know it. It is what has stoked the growing tensions between players and owners long before the current situation. Watching owners push for more salary reductions right now is worsening things not just because players don’t want to do that, but because it may act as a preview of labor negotiations. Owners are going to play hardball, and if anyone needs further evidence of that, they need only look at comments commissioner Rob Manfred made to the MLBPA last year.

We do not know if there will be a baseball season in 2020. The players’ hostility toward owners has boiled over into the public sphere and shows no signs of abating. Neither side trusts the other. It’s a bad place to be for the sport as a whole, and if the season is lost due to an inability to agree on salaries, the damage would be incalculable.

But it may not be over. A more consequential negotiation looms next year. The issues are only growing more pronounced. A work stoppage looks like a legitimate possibility for the first time in a long time. The current standoff between the owners and MLBPA increasingly looks like a preview of more acrimony to come, not the main event.

Browns DC: Myles Garrett has ‘right mindset’ after suspension

Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett’s 2019 season ended after he shocking attacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet. Garrett has since been reinstated, and one of his coaches thinks the pass-rusher is in a good place mentally.

Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods believes Garrett is where he needs to be as the defensive lineman preps for a big fourth season in the NFL.

“I think as a young player in this league, you go through a lot of different things so I definitely think he is going to learn and grow from the situation that happened last year,” Woods said, via Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “We really have not talked about it after he got back and after he was reinstated. He is focused on getting better. He is focused on being a good teammate. He has been in the meetings. He is trying to step up and take more of a leadership role. I definitely think he is moving in the right direction and has the right mindset.”

There’s no question that the Browns are standing by Garrett, and a big new contract may be in his future. After 10 sacks in 10 games in 2019, the sky seems to be the limit for him. The key is ensuring that the incident that spoiled his 2019 season remains an out-of-character moment for him and not some sort of new normal.

John Harbaugh wants Ravens to learn from early playoff exit

John Harbaugh

The Baltimore Ravens went 14-2 last season, only to get trounced at home in their playoff opener. That bitter pill should serve them well in 2020, according to their coach.

John Harbaugh said Thursday that his players are “pissed” about how their season ended, and that they should learn from that experience.

“They are just pissed about it,” Harbaugh said, via Clifton Brown of the team’s official website. “They are not happy about it. I expect our guys to learn from that and understand what it takes to beat an opponent that is determined to beat you.”

Harbaugh warned, however, that the Ravens will have a similar target on their backs throughout 2020 and will need to be ready to embrace the heightened expectations.

“Going into our season last year, we were the iceberg,” Harbaugh said. “Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still under water and people hadn’t seen it yet. Starting next year, we’re not going to be the iceberg. People are going to see us. We’re going to be everybody’s most important game.”

Harbaugh is right. The Ravens will be treated as Super Bowl contenders, and teams will be preparing for them that way. On the other hand, there’s a clear expectation that the team has even more room to grow despite their 14-win season last year. If that happens, Baltimore should meet expectations.

Adam Amin reportedly leaving ESPN to take Chicago Bulls announcer job

Adam Amin is set to see his broadcasting profile rise in a big way.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the ESPN broadcaster is poised to become the TV voice of the Chicago Bulls. Amin would replace longtime Bulls broadcaster Neil Funk, who is retiring after nearly three decades as the team’s TV broadcaster.

Amin is also getting a big national gig, as he is set to join FOX Sports to call national NFL and MLB games.

Amin had built up a solid reputation at ESPN, where he has called men’s and women’s college basketball, college football, and MLB, among other sports. He was on the call for one of the more memorable moments of the decade in college basketball.

The 33-year-old was seen as one of ESPN’s rising stars. He’s about to become much more familiar nationally, but for a different network. It sounds like Bulls fans should get used to hearing him regularly as well.

Luis Severino making ‘steady progress’ in Tommy John surgery recovery

Luis Severino

Luis Severino won’t be able to pitch this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but the New York Yankees pitcher doesn’t seem to be having any problems during rehab.

Severino has been working out at the Yankees’ spring facilities in Tampa, and is working out five days a week with trainers. He said he feels much better and hopes to begin throwing this summer.

“Things have been progressing well,” Severino said, via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “I’ve been making steady progress — lifting, doing exercises. Since three months ago — I think when I first had my surgery — I feel way better. I’m doing everything I need to do right now so that I can start throwing this summer.”

Needing surgery was a huge blow to Severino, who hasn’t been healthy since 2018. His recovery could extend into the 2021 season, but he’s clearly working hard to ensure that he gets back as soon as possible.

Video shows JR Smith beating man who smashed his car during protests

JR Smith had his car damaged during one of the police brutality protests over the weekend, and the man who was allegedly responsible paid a price for the act.

A video that was obtained by TMZ showed Smith pummeling and unleashing several kicks on the person who he says broke his car window. Beware that the video contains some graphic content.

Smith posted a video on social media and explained that his truck was parked in a residential neighborhood that was nowhere near where stores were being looted. He proudly said of the person responsible that he “chased him down and whooped his a–.”

“One of these motherf—ing white boys didn’t know where he was going and broke my f—ing window in my truck, broke my s—” Smith explained. “I chased him down and whooped his a–. So if the footage comes out and y’all see it, I chased him down and whooped his a–. This ain’t no hate crime. I ain’t got no problem with nobody. … He didn’t know whose window he broke and he got his a– whooped.”

That was the second time Smith was spotted in the streets of greater Los Angeles this weekend, though the first time was in a much more relaxed setting. There has been speculation that the Lakers could be interested in the free agent sharpshooter.