OPPORTUNITY LOST

Here's why MLB may have already blown it

Composite photo by Jack Brame

If the goal for Major League Baseball was to try to destroy its sport - they are knocking this one out of the park.

Remember when baseball was going to usher in the return of team sports? When the game was going to help "heal the country?" The 4th of July was going to have MLB back and demanding the spotlight for the first time in years. Instead, we have billionaire owners and millionaire players arguing how to split billions of dollars in the middle of a global pandemic that has left one in five Americans out of work and over 100,000 Americans dead. What's the saddest part about these "negotiations?" The two sides can't even agree on what they agreed on in March.

I'm not naive enough to think that just because baseball came back on the 4th of July that the sport would be saved and regained the popularity it once had but wouldn't it have been nice to have a positive news story involving the sport for once? Baseball used to be the national pastime - it hasn't been in decades. The average age of an MLB fan is 57. That's up from 52 in 2000. A great way to destroy your sport is to make sure that people either don't care or can't even find it in the first place. The national ratings for baseball continue to go down and do you think that the owners or players even care?

You have plenty of billionaire owners crying poor despite baseball bringing in over 10 billion dollars in revenue. I guess I forgot that apparently if you own an MLB team you are legally required to make money every year. It's fair to even wonder just how many owners even want to play at this point. The players deserve their blame in this too. The MLBPA continues to insist they have already taken pay cuts by agreeing to pro-rated salaries. However, that is simply not true. You aren't going to get paid for games that haven't been played. Why should your employer have to pay you for 162 games of work when we aren't going to have anywhere near that amount of games. Agreeing to a pro-rated salary is not a pay cut. Stop pretending it is one.

Both sides continue to air out their dirty laundry publicly. Why? This isn't an election. The court of public opinion means nothing if we end up with only a gimmicky 50 game season instead of playing at least 82 games. Or even worse - no season at all. How is there no common ground here? How can't both sides realize that playing only a 50 game season when the opportunity was there to play way more games diminishes a true world champion? Do we really need another offseason of asterisk talk?

Regardless of how this story ends, MLB has already blown their golden window of opportunity to grow the sport. Any chance of building up good-will with the fans has evaporated before our eyes. If you thought the damage of the World Series being canceled in 1994 was bad for the popularity of baseball, just wait and see how destructive it will be if there is no season at all. Only this time you won't have a performance-enhanced drug era of the game to save the sport.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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