The NBA is poisoning major sports

This week, the Golden State Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal worth $5.3 million. This comes after the Warriors won 73 games in a season, signed the second best player on the planet the following offseason and cruised to back-to-back NBA titles. There was a phrase going around this postseason that “KD ruined the NBA,” and now it’s safe to say that the Warriors collectively have ruined the NBA.

But that’s just the beginning.

Over in the NHL this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs landed John Tavares, one of the league’s best players for the next seven years. A heartwarming story, as the Mississauga, Ontario product returned home to play with his childhood team he grew up idolizing. The Leafs instantly bounce into Stanley Cup contention, with Vegas already putting them as the favourites to win the cup next year. On the outside looking in, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with this deal. Then you dive into the contract itself. Tavares’ base salary over every season he’s signed with Toronto doesn’t go over $1 million per season. Some players who spend half their season in the minors make more than Tavares will make just off of base salary. The $77 million that Tavares will make comes mostly from signing bonuses every year, handed out straight in cash by the Maple Leafs. For this year of his contract, Tavares will receive $15.25 million, which he actually already received the day he signed with Toronto. Because of his low base salary, Tavares’ cap hit is only $11 million per season, despite getting paid over $16 million a season. While it’s only the first time this has happened in the NHL, it’s a slippery slope that the league will continue to slide down unless the league steps in. With more free agents next off-season, teams will use the method used by the Leafs to take in top-tier players while lowering cap hits.

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And in the NHL (and the other major sports), not all markets are like the Maple Leafs. Most teams across the NHL don’t have this kind of money to throw around in salary bonuses in order to attract these players. The Ottawa Senators would have to sell the barn in order to make an offer like the one the Leafs made to Tavares. Meaning that only the richest teams in the league can afford the top players in the game, even with a salary cap in place. And it all started with the Golden State Warriors.

Granted, the MLB doesn’t have a salary cap, so teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have been poaching the top talent in baseball for years. But that’s not what we want in major sports, the unfair balance in payrolls and talent on certain teams. To an extent it’s okay, but when some major league players are making more money than the Oakland Athletics are paying out to a whole team, it’s a little ridiculous.

While the NFL hasn’t quite experienced anything like the NBA’s current landscape has, there’s no saying certain players come together to create super-teams in the future and chase championships. The NHL now seems to be heading in that direction, and the MLB has been unbalanced for decades. The NBA is pretty much decided for the next two years, as we await something to change in Golden State.

And that’s not a good thing for sports.

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MLB Postseason predictions

October is here, and that means playoff baseball is back. While my Toronto Blue Jays aren’t in the mix this year, the MLB playoffs never fail to disappoint. While we’re just minutes away from the first pitch of the AL Wild Card Game, I’m going to quickly give my predictions on how the postseason will play out.

AL Wild Card Game: #4 Yankees vs. #5 Twins

I’ve got the Yankees defeating the Twins by a pretty good margin tonight, because of two key players for me. Number one, is Luis Severino, who is taking the mound tonight for the Yankees. He’s in the discussion for the AL Cy Young this year, and I think he’s going to be brilliant tonight in front of his home crowd. The second key player, is Miguel Sano. The Twins slugger is not in the line-up tonight, and it will prove costly going up against a red hot Aaron Judge and Severino. Maybe if Byron Buxton or Brian Dozier has a big game the Twins can make something happen, but my money is on the Yankees.

Winner: Yankees

NL Wild Card Game: #4 Diamondbacks vs. #5 Rockies

If this game was being played at Coors Field, I might have more faith in the Colorado Rockies upsetting the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the stars have simply aligned for the DBacks in this situation, and with home field, and Zack Grienke on the mound, there’s no way the Rockies hitters will be able to keep up with Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt. Regardless, I believe this wild card game will be more entertaining than the AL side.

Winner: Diamondbacks

AL Divisional: #2 Astros vs. #3 Red Sox

Since we got a nice preview of the series last week, this prediction isn’t too hard for me. The Astros took 3 of 4 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and really got to the Red Sox pitchers, including Chris Sale, who’s been off his game lately, and he picked a bad time to lose his mojo. With Carlos Correa back in the line-up, and recently acquired Justin Verlander on the hill with an already deep rotation, the Astros are all in, and with the Red Sox ace currently in a slump, and the Red Sox hitters not being able to make up for it, I believe the Astros will make fairly quick work of the Red Sox.

Winner: Astros in 4

NL Divisional: #2 Nationals vs. #3 Cubs

Ah, the Washington Nationals. So dominant, so stacked. Then, the postseason rolls around. I wish I could say I’d have more faith in the Nats, but I simply can’t put any trust into that team after the last 5 years of watching them crumble in the playoffs. I’ll go ahead and say that the Nationals give the Cubs a run for their money, but with the Cubs coming off a World Series Championship last year, I believe the Cubbies will come through in the clutch and take the Divisional Series in 5 games. Also, I think that after a fairly slow regular season, the 2017 postseason will be a Kris Bryant show. Just a feeling.

Winner: Cubs in 5

AL Divisional: #1 Indians vs. #4 Yankees

I’m not super high on the Cleveland Indians this year, not sure why, after they went out and won 22 straight games in September, but I just don’t know. I always get the feeling that the teams who go out and do something incredible in the regular season never keep it up once the playoffs roll around, (2016 Warriors, anyone?) Regardless, I’ll say the Indians take down the Yankees in 4, simply because of the Yankees’ lack of depth down the rotation, and I feel the bats will go cold against the likes of Corey Kluber and company. Still, a building block season for the young Yankees, who will definitely be back in 2018, as AL East Division champs.

Winner: Indians in 4

NL Divisional: #1 Dodgers vs. #4 Diamondbacks

There’s no better team in the majors than the Los Angeles Dodgers, simply put. Their roster is absolutely star studded from top to bottom, hitters to pitchers. While you can almost make the same case for the Dodgers as you can the Nationals, I believe the postseason jitters that have haunted Clayton Kershaw will be out the window this year. With Kershaw, Darvish and Wood all on top of their game, the DBacks hitters come up empty through 3 games, and with a couple timely hits from the likes of Bellinger and Turner, the Dodgers breeze through the divisional series.

Winner: Dodgers in 3

AL Championship: #1 Indians vs. #2 Astros

This is going to be a war, and I can’t wait. I believe these two teams match up very well, and it will be the series of the playoffs in terms of “wow” moments and theatrics. As I said earlier, I’m not super high on the Indians coming into the playoffs, so I’ve actually got the Astros upsetting the Indians in Game 7 at Progressive Field. As much as I want my guy Edwin Encarnacion to win a ring, it’s not the year for the Tribe. Again, with Correa on fire, Altuve, Verlander and Keuchel all doing their thing, the Astros win their first AL Championship banner, and make their first World Series appearance since 2005.

Winner: Astros in 7

NL Championship: #1 Dodgers vs. #3 Cubs

Another great series, some may take the Cubs simply because of the experience and the fact that they’re the defending champs. However, the Dodgers pure talent is what will see them through to the World Series. While Bryant, Rizzo and the rest of the Cubs will put up a good fight, it’ll simply come down to firepower in the later stages of the series, and the Dodgers simply have too many weapons to deal with. Again, another great series, but the Dodgers will make their first World Series appearance since 1988, and will look to bring home their 7th title in team history.

Winner: Dodgers in 6

World Series: #1 Dodgers vs. #2 Astros

I don’t believe this year’s World Series will live up to the 2016 series, simply because there’s too many “OMG” moments from the Cubs/Indians series last year to count, but it also won’t be a snoozefest. This is another series that stacks up so well in terms of key matchups, and the atmosphere in both teams’ stadiums will be absolutely insane. While I’m a huge fan of the roster the Astros have put together this season, there’s simply no stopping the Dodgers in a 7 game series with the pitching rotation that they’re running. I’ve got the Dodgers taking the World Series, their first in 29 years, in 6 games over the Astros. In terms of postseason MVP, I’ll take Justin Turner. I feel like his stats won’t be out of this world, but he’ll come up with all the clutch hits throughout the playoffs and put his team over the hump.

Winner: Dodgers in 6

Disagree? You probably do. Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me @tbennz. Happy October!

 

Yu Darvish makes the Dodgers instant World Series favourites

With the addition of Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, it’s hard not to picture the Los Angeles Dodgers raising the 2017 World Series Championship come October.

The 30-year-old is in the prime of his career, and despite a slow first half of the 2017 season, the switch from the American League West to the National League West will do wonders for Darvish’s numbers. Other than the Rockies’ ballpark, there’s not much to be feared with the San Francisco Giants out of the mix for this year. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are having surprisingly successful seasons, but history shows the NL is much more comforting to pitchers than the AL is.

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With the Dodgers currently sitting at 75-31 (that’s a win percentage of .708,) it’s almost a guarantee that the Dodgers will be making the playoffs as NL West champions. It’s also pretty much a guarantee that Los Dodgers will also be thinning down to a four-man rotation for the 2017 postseason. So, you have Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood as your four-man rotation, plus you have Kenta Maeda and Hyun Jin Ryu out of the bullpen in long-term relief situations. Just to add onto that, you have Tony Watson as your new setup pitcher, and the always dominant Kenley Jansen to close out games. Pitching wise, the Dodgers rotation is nearly perfect.

Hitting wise, the Dodgers are no slouches either. With Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal and the rest of the crew, the Dodgers can still keep up with some of the league’s top hitting teams. However, it’ll be pitching that will ultimately win the Dodgers games.

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Of course, the Dodgers got Darvish for a very low price due to the fact that Darvish is a free agent in the upcoming offseason. Odds are that Darvish would’ve probably left Texas in the offseason for a contender anyways, so it made sense for the Rangers to get something for Darvish while they still could, and gear up to make an offer to try and retain his services through free agency next year. Will it happen? Personally, I doubt it. The Dodgers are a great fit for the right hander, and he’ll have a chance each and every year to compete for a championship ring as long as he’s in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are one of those teams that seem to have never-ending pockets, so signing Darvish to a long-term contract isn’t out of the question, and it’s not a bad idea if they can persuade Darvish to stay. However, things don’t always work out the way teams want it to. Back in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays made a similar move to get David Price for their 2015 postseason run. After failing to beat the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 ALCS, Price jumped ship to the Jays’ rival, the Boston Red Sox on a huge deal. While I don’t really see Darvish doing the same, the San Francisco Giants have seen a dismal year from Johnny Cueto, who is signed until 2021, but if they can find a way to move his contract, the Giants would definitely be interested in Darvish.

Realistically, Darvish’s intentions for free agency are completely up in the air, but for the time being, he’s a Dodger. And that’s a very scary thing.

MLB Umpires should be held accountable

Across major sports, being a referee, umpire or official is usually the toughest job out there. You’re constantly being ridiculed, booed and judged with every call you make. If you do your job well, there’s no trophy; you simply don’t get noticed if you do a good job. However, flip the coin and you make a mistake, and you’re the center of thousands of people’s attention, and not in a good way.

I refereed intramurals basketball last year, and I will never do it again. Not because there were thousands of fans shouting at me, but because I couldn’t deal with all the players complaining and the abuse that was put on me. At the end of the day,  the players thought they were NBA stars, when really, we’re just out here to have fun. Why should I bother taking this crap? Have fun playing without a ref.

With that in mind, I understand why some refs and umpires can be a little cranky at times. However, MLB umpires are, by far, the most thin-skinned officials on planet earth. Referring to when I said that officials usually go unnoticed, it seems like umpires want to be the center of attention. They want thousands of fans yelling at them. And, usually the only time they will do that, is if you mess up. I’m positive that if you took the number of ejections from the NHL, NBA and NFL, and then crunched them all together, they still wouldn’t stack up to how many players and managers are thrown out over the course of a 162 game MLB season. Is it because they want attention? Power trip? thin skin? I would say it’s all of the above.

Just in the past few days we’ve seen multiple ejections across the MLB on, for the most part, horrible officiating. Whether it’s an inconsistent strike zone, or just being stubborn, Umpires take zero shits from anybody. Just an example, here’s what came up on Thursday night in Toronto:

With both teams complaining about the strike zone all game, Marcus Stroman walked a batter on a pretty close call. Might’ve been a bit outside, but a nice framing from Russell Martin behind the plate probably should’ve moved the count full. Stroman is always very expressive on the mound, and swore after the pitch, and mumbled something under his breath while the ball came back to him. That’s when home plate umpire Will Little decided to throw out Stroman, then Martin and then manager John Gibbons from the game, all in under a minute.

Then you have the Adrian Beltre incident from Wednesday night:

Beltre was told to warm up in the on-deck circle, which was mere feet away from him, so, Beltre decided to be cheeky (as we all probably would) and moved the circle to where he was standing at the time. Then umpire Gerry Davis, who obviously was upset that Beltre didn’t follow orders, tossed him from the game.

Ridiculous.

These are two prime examples that umpires need to be held responsible for their actions. In some cases, they’re taking away a team’s best player for the remainder of the game for almost no reason. Every official is going to be criticized for a call, but you don’t see NHL referees ejecting players left and right just because they can.

I umpired minor baseball and softball when I was younger, and to make sure that I wasn’t being too ridiculed before the game, during the managers meetings I’d tell both coaches that their kids better be ready to get the bats off their shoulders, because I’d expand the strikezone to make the players determine the game. It’s a bit of a moot point to my argument, but I just remember avoiding a lot of confrontations by establishing my zone before the game, and sticking to it.

Whether it’s a fine, suspension or demotion, the MLB needs to keep better tabs on their umpires. We’ve seen time and time again that they can be ridiculous with their rulings and ejections, and the league needs to step up and hold these umpires accountable for their actions.

The New York Yankees are becoming a dynasty all over again

With the acquisition of Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the New York Yankees are speeding up the process of becoming the perennial MLB powerhouses once again.

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Todd Frazier is a terrific add for the Yankees, and is the definite centerpiece of the deal for New York. With elite power, the 31 year old is riding a 40 home run season with the White Sox last season, and while he’s had a down year, still boasts 17 bombs on the season and 44 runs batted in. Chase Headley will be booted across the diamond to first base to accommodate the trade, and it’s a definite upgrade for the Yankees in the hot corner. Headley is batting .257 with just four homers on the year, and it seems his prime is well past him now. Frazier on the other hand, despite being just two years younger, is still playing his best baseball. The only red flag for Frazier is his average. Despite keeping an OPS that flirts with .800, Frazier is batting just .207 this season, something that definitely needs some improvement. It’s been a common trend across the majors for a while now, teams don’t value one-dimensional power hitters as much as they used to. That being said, Frazier is a nice replacement for Headley at third and will be used to try and knock in the Bronx Bombers’ on base players such as Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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Tommy Kahlne (pronounced Cain-Lee) is a solid middle reliever for the Yankees, only bolstering New York’s powerhouse bullpen even more. He’s been very good for the White Sox this season, sporting a 2.50 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97. It’s surprising the Yankees still went after more relief pitchers given that they already have Betances and Chapman, but I guess the more, the merrier. It also could be that the White Sox weren’t willing to do the trade unless they got Blake Rutherford, and the Yankees simply took on Robertson and Kahnle because it was the only other value they could get. That being said, the White Sox have a pair of Garcia’s that have been playing outstanding baseball this year, and I’m surprised that one of them wasn’t swapped in for one of the two relievers included in the deal.

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And lastly, a former Yankee returns to the Bronx, David Robertson. Robertson, who was drafted by New York, broke into the league with the Yankees and spent seven seasons there, returns hoping to recapture the success he created back in 2011, when he was selected to the all-star game for the lone time. Robertson will assume the same role he had in 2011-2013 as one of the Yankees’ setup men alongside Dellin Betances. While Robertson was the closer for the White Sox and did serve as the Yankees closer for one season in 2014, there’s no way the Yankees relieve Aroldis Chapman from his duties. That being said, Chapman is very injury prone, so having Robertson and Betances as a backup plan isn’t a bad idea. Again, I don’t really see the need for the Yankees acquiring two more relievers when they already have two of the best in their bullpen, but it must’ve been the best return that Yankees GM Brian Cashman could’ve got in this deal when Rutherford had to be included in the deal for Frazier to happen, at least that’s how it plays out in my head.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

The loss of top prospect Rutherford is a big hit for the future; but for the Yankees, the time to win is now. With Luis Severino turning the corner this season, Aaron Judge mashing the baseball, Gary Sanchez returning to his 2016 form, Clint Frazier looking promising, and of course that monster bullpen, the Yankees are scary. The addition of Todd Frazier and company make the Yankees favourites to finish atop the AL East and make a big push in the postseason. Chemistry could take a little while, and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi will have to find where Frazier works best in the line-up card, but with their current roster, it’s not hard to see the Yankees leapfrogging the Rays and Red Sox in the clustered AL East.

Even scarier? Reportedly, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t done making moves yet.

With a week and half remaining, the MLB Trade Deadline has already been very active, and it appears the shake-ups could continue right up until July 31st.

7 MLB Trade Deadline deals that make perfect sense

The MLB Trade Deadline is fast approaching, with a number of buyers and sellers looking to bolster their roster for a deep playoff run or sell off expiring assets and get some return while they still can. Looking back in history, most trade deadline deals are for short term rentals, not long term ‘face of the franchise’ type of players, minus the ’97 McGwire from the A’s to the Cardinals trade. So, who gets moved where? Let’s dive in.

Sonny Gray to the Chicago Cubs

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The reigning World Series Champs are in trouble, big trouble. While writing this, the Cubs are a game under .500, and 5.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central Division lead. A big reason for the Cubs’ demise this year has been their starting pitching. Jake Arrieta seems to have taken a big step backwards from his previous three seasons in Chicago. Jon Lester has been just as subpar, and aside from those two, the Cubs have gone through a rotating door of fringe starters like Liam Hendriks and Eddie Butler, who actually has the best stats of the bunch, with half the starts might I add.

Sonny Gray to a struggling Cubs team makes too much sense. With the acquisition of Jose Quintana last week, and Gray currently available at a low price, the time is now for the Cubs to pounce on the 27-year-old chucker. Also in his contract year, it’s highly doubtful the Athletics will hold onto Gray through unrestricted free agency with an opportunity for a big pay raise, so expect the A’s to be shopping Gray avidly over the next two weeks, even if the Cubs aren’t the eventual landing destination. For a team that has just seemed to be stuck in neutral all season, Sonny Gray could kickstart the Cubs back into World Series discussion and another memorable postseason run.

Dee Gordon to the Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Miami Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s been a fantastic year for the Tampa Bay Rays, who currently find themselves chasing down the Boston Red Sox for 1st place in the AL East, a major turn-around from years past. Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Alex Colome have been vital in the Rays turnaround year. A big gap in the Rays’ starting line-up has been at second base. Brad Miller and Daniel Robertson are both batting under .230, and the line-up in general could use a great leadoff hitter with elite speed. Enter Dee Gordon. The Marlins are reportedly gearing up for a huge fire sale, with owner Jeffrey Loria looking to sell the team all together. It’s an ugly, ugly situation in Miami, but Dee Gordon gets a one-way ticket out of Florida and steps right into a pennant race. For the Rays, they take on a bit of a hefty contract, with Gordon signed through 2020 with an average annual salary of $10 million. The great thing about speed is that it never slumps, and if they are going to make the investment, it’s a good one.

Raisel Iglesias to the Washington Nationals

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The Washington Nationals lead the NL East by a wide margin and are almost a lock for the postseason. The Nationals are that one team that dominates the regular season and just can’t put the pieces together in the playoffs. It’s already clear that the Nationals need help in the bullpen, especially in the closer role, with a handful of relievers failing to hold onto the role for the team and Koda Glover’s whole shower-slipping situation. The Nationals haven’t had a true closer since Drew Storen a few years ago, and we all know how that story ended. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in dead last in the NL Central, and this season is all but over. While Iglesias is on a steal of a contract ($4 million a season through 2020,) if the Reds can add some solid young talent for the star closer, this might be the time to do it. With an aging Joey Votto, and no real help in sight, it’s time for the Reds to go in full rebuild mode, and moving Iglesias to the Nationals is the first step.

David Robertson to the Arizona Diamondbacks

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Somehow, someway, the Arizona Diamondbacks have managed to play incredible baseball in 2017, trailing only the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and currently holding onto a wild card spot. If history speaks any volumes, the D-Backs should not trust Fernando Rodney as we enter the home stretch of the regular season. He’s had an incredible year for what his expectations were, but it’s time to make the upgrade if you’re making a legitimate playoff run. For Robertson, he’s also having an exceptional year, but with the Jose Quintana departure, it’s pretty clear the White Sox have thrown in the towel on this season. Robertson still has another year on his contract after this season, so it’s not a complete rental deal for Arizona, but much like the Reds in the move above, it doesn’t appear the White Sox are going anywhere any time soon.

Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros

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for Pittsburgh Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, it’s simply time for a reboot. Coming into 2017 as the Pirates’ ace of the rotation, it’s been a rocky season for Cole, who sports an ERA of 4.43 to date. Since he’s only got just over 3 years of MLB service time, Cole isn’t a true free agent until 2020, but his contract is up after this year and he’ll probably go to arbitration if he sticks with the Pirates. It’s a risk the Pirates don’t want to take at this point, and for the Astros, who are having statistically one of the best seasons in the modern era, picking up a former all-star who is at an all-time low price makes perfect sense, especially for an Astros rotation who could use some tweaking. Even with Andrew McCutchen’s resurface, the Pirates are well outside a playoff spot, and if they can pick up some valuable assets for the future, trading Cole at the deadline makes sense.

Justin Bour to the Boston Red Sox

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As noted previously, it’s going to be a firesale for the Miami Marlins, and they’ll be looking to move one of their hottest hitters in Justin Bour. Bour, who has a salary of just over $550k this season, and arbitration on the way this offseason, is a perfect pick-up for the Red Sox, who have lots of money tied up elsewhere this season. The real struggle with this deal will be prospects the Red Sox can give the Marlins for this deal to happen. As you probably know, the Red Sox cleaned house when they acquired Chris Sale from the White Sox in the offseason, so this move could be a little tricky in that regard, but if the teams can find a fit, Bour joins a Red Sox team who leads the AL East and is poised for another big postseason run.

Trevor Cahill to the Milwaukee Brewers

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One of the lower-end deals on this list, the Milwaukee Brewers are another one of those teams that completely threw everyone off guard this year, thanks to Eric Thames’ incredible season, Chase Anderson’s breakout year and a lot more contributing factors. While there’s still much to be desired from Jonathan Villar this year, the Brew Crew are looking to upgrade on the mound, but reportedly don’t want to give up much in prospects or cash. The San Diego Padres seem to be in an endless rebuild, and it seems like it’s once again time to go back to the drawing board. There have been lots of rumours that Cahill has been on the block, but it’s not likely the Padres will get a huge return for him. For the Brewers, who are currently sitting in 1st place in the NL Central, having a bit more stability in the rotation could help the Brewers stay ahead of the Cubs in the division as we enter the home stretch.

To those of you who scrolled through this list looking for Giancarlo Stanton, sorry. Simply put, he’s immovable in Miami. His contract for one, and two, it would take a ridiculous offer for the Marlins to part with the face of their franchise, even if the team is in ruins behind the curtain. There have been rumours of the St. Louis Cardinals inquiring about Toronto Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson, but again, it would take a sizeable offer for Jays GM Mark Shapiro to bite at this point, where the Blue Jays organization still believes this core group can contend for a championship.

Is there a trade you see happening before the MLB Trade Deadline on July 31st? Let us know in the comments below.

The HR Derby should be the “shootout” of the MLB

The MLB is in a time crunch, always looking to quicken the pace of the game for the fans that cry out that the game is too slow. We’ve seen it this year with the introduction of the intentional walk sign rather than just throwing four pitches outside of the zone. It’s time for something a little more radical which could keep fans invested past the ninth inning, and give a little bit of theatrics to the game. I talked about it a little bit in our podcast this week; a home run derby to decide the winner in extra innings. The original concept came to me from a recent Bleacher Report article that was discussing how to make baseball “cool” again. Some of the concepts were ridiculous and would never fly with the baseball purists looking upon it, but the one concept that was a little out there, but made sense, was the HR derby rule.

Now, in the article, Scott Miller suggests the HR Derby should come right after the 9th inning is over, which I say is a little premature. Doing this would allow managers to abuse the fact that they know they won’t need relievers past the ninth inning, so they could just throw in their closing pitcher in the 9th with no consequences. My idea is to play the 10th and 11th innings with international rules. For those of you who don’t know what those rules are, international rules has a runner start on second base (the last out of the inning prior) at the start of the inning. So essentially, each teams starts with a runner in scoring position, and virtually any base hit into the outfield should score a run.

Now, if that doesn’t do the trick to end the game after the 12th inning, we go to a home run derby. Each team picks one slugger to go up and face the team pitching coach (because we’re not going to have Robinson Cano’s dad on hand for every MLB game) and they have 5 outs to work with to see how many home runs they can hit within that window. Whoever hits more homers, wins the game. Pretty simple. This avoids the 19 inning games where we see opposing bench utility players going to the mound to end a grueling 6 hour game with only a handful of fans still in attendance. And it’s not only the fans who don’t like the 19 inning games, but the players don’t like it either. I couldn’t imagine playing 6 hours of baseball, then having to hop on a plane just an hour afterwards, trying to get some sleep and doing it all over again the next day.

Now, baseball purists don’t like change. That’s why so many rules have stayed in place for so long in the majors, take the DH rule for instance. The National League should’ve conceived the DH rule years ago, but because they haven’t had a DH, they just aren’t willing to change. But hear me out, this HR derby idea may sound extreme, but what makes it any different than a shootout in hockey or soccer? In my opinion, it’s a great way to generate some interest, add some more intensity to the late inning games, and add a little theatrics and fun to America’s game.