Twins’ Class AA team, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, list stadium on Airbnb for $1,500 per night

With no minor league baseball games to be played, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are getting creative and diving into the hospitality business. 

The team, the Class AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins that plays in the Southern League, listed Blue Wahoos Stadium on Airbnb, starting at $1,500 a night (plus fees). 

Up to 10 guests can stay at the stadium, with four bunk beds and a pair of queen sized beds available in rooms adjacent to the clubhouse. Visitors will have full access to the stadium, including the batting cages. 

Per the listing, "guests are welcome to hit from home plate, play catch in the outfield, run the bases, enjoy a picnic in the outfield, or find other creative uses for the field!"

The clubhouse features "four leather couches, two flat screen TVs, a ping pong table, padded chairs and two large tables. Two bathrooms with showers are connected directly to the clubhouse." There are two more flat screens and a kitchenette in the bedroom. 

👀 pic.twitter.com/IT0WdEZ6ba

A Blue Wahoos staff member will remain on site throughout the stay to answer questions and provide security. 

The Blue Wahoos, co-owned by professional golfer Bubba Watson, set up a disc golf course on the field for fans to enjoy on Friday and will do so again Sunday. On Saturday, a local baseball tournament took place on the field. And on May 29, Pensacola is hosting a movie and fireworks night. 

Source: Read Full Article

A universal DH opens the door to these potential breakout NL hitters

Sure, some sports are back. But "sports" as we know them are largely still on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today is Day 72 without sports ⚾️.

Although many details have yet to be ironed out, there's growing optimism we'll have Major League Baseball back at some point this summer.

Assuming the players and owners can reach a compromise off the field, one of the most likely changes on the field for this season is the use of the designated hitter in every game. There’s simply no reason for any pitcher to set foot in a batter’s box in 2020.

An extra hitter in every National League team's lineup can potentially ease some playing-time crunches — and open the door to breakout performances. 

Cubs outfielder Ian Happ hit 24 home runs as a rookie in 2017, but spent most of the 2019 season in the minor leagues. (Photo: Rick Scuteri, USA TODAY Sports)

Here are eight post-hype NL sleepers, all 26 or younger, who are poised to take their games to the next level in an abbreviated season.

OF Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs. Happ hit 24 homers in 2017, but his power dropped off the following season and he spent most of last year at Class AAA. A switch-hitter with a bit more pop from the right side, Happ, 25, showed signs of a rebound when he returned to Chicago with an outstanding .300 isolated slugging percentage in 140 at-bats.

SS Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals. The defensive struggles he had while replacing injured shortstop Trea Turner during last year's two-week cameo almost certainly impacted Kieboom on offense. But the 2016 first-rounder has always been able to hit. With Turner healthy, Kieboom, 22, will get his chance playing third base.

3B/OF Scott Kingery, Philadelphia Phillies. Big things were expected when Kingery signed a long-term contract two years ago – before he’d ever played a game in the majors. Although his 2019 counting stats were decent (19 home runs, 15 stolen bases), there’s still plenty of room for growth in his age-26 season.

OF Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals. His stat sheet is dominated by home runs and strikeouts … and last year, injuries also figured prominently. But O’Neill, 24, has plenty of untapped potential. He has elite sprint speed – at 29.9 feet/second, he surprisingly ranked 10th (out of 568 players) in the majors last year – so an improvement in contact rate and an extra lineup slot could help elevate his profile significantly.

OF Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves. Riley, 23, hit nine home runs in his first 18 games after being promoted, but his star quickly faded when pitchers stopped challenging him. He hit nine more homers over his last 62 games and struck out nearly 38% of the time. Off to a strong start at the plate this spring, Riley has several avenues to playing time at third base, outfield or DH.

2B Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Rodgers also saw his season cut short by shoulder surgery. Throughout the minors, he had a tendency to struggle initially at a new level before ultimately succeeding. The pattern repeated as he hit .224/.272/.250 in 81 plate appearances after making his MLB debut as a 22-year-old last May. That experience should make him more prepared, while the DH should offer additional avenues to playing time.

OF Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks. One of four players the D’backs received in the Zack Greinke trade, Rojas, 25, hit a sizzling .332/.418/1.023 in the minors, but struggled after making his MLB debut last August. He played all four infield positions in the minors, but was almost exclusively an outfielder in Arizona. Rojas should see action all over the diamond as extra playing time opens up.

OF Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senzel had a disappointing MLB debut, hitting .256/.315/.427 and suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in September. This season’s delayed start should have him close to 100% recovered from surgery — and a DH spot will keep his bat in the lineup without taxing him too much on defense. Senzel, 24, has the hit tool and the speed to be an impact player – as long as he’s healthy enough to play every day. 

Source: Read Full Article

Rob Manfred confident MLB will reach deal to play shortened season with players union

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he's confident the league will reach an agreement with players to play a shortened 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and claimed owners would lose up to $4 billion if the season is not played at all. 

Appearing on a CNN coronavirus town hall, Manfred said he was "hopeful we will have some Major League Baseball this summer," and that their hopes to stage an 82-game season will be dependent on the public-health situation and whether it's safe for players and employees to return to work. 

He said players will be tested for COVID-19 multiple times per week and promised a 24-hour turnaround time in results, with MLB striking a deal with a lab in Utah it typically uses for minor-league drug testing results. Manfred confirmed MLB will not shut down if a player tests positive, saying the player will be quarantined until he tests negative for COVID-19 twice in 24 hours. 

"Our experts are advising us that we don’t need a 14-day quarantine," says Manfred. "The positive indivudal will be removed from the group, quarantined, then contact tracing with the individual and point of care testing with the individuals to minimize the chance there’s been a spread." 

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during the 2019 World Series. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)

Owners approved a plan that would provide they and players a 50-50 split of revenues in this truncated season, which may be played in its entirety without fans, reducing revenues by about 40% to 60% per team. MLB Players' Association executive director Tony Clark will not accept that plan, believing a pro-rated percentage of salaries was agreed upon by both sides in March. 

Manfred and ownership did not present economic issues to the MLBPA in a call on Tuesday, instead laying out the specifics of player safety while playing in a pandemic; Manfred said 80 pages of health protocols covered everything from testing to the cleaning of airplanes, buses and other necessities. 

"Whenever there's a discussion about economics, people characterize it as a fight," he said. "I have great confidence we’ll reach agreement with the players association – both on making it safe to come back to work, and the economic issues involved."

He said he talked to the governors of all 18 states that host an MLB franchise and said "most governors expressed hopes we’d be able to use facilities, without fans," while noting contingency plans are in place. States such as California – home to five MLB franchises – with stricter stay-at-home orders may force the league to relocate teams. Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Ron DeSantis of Florida both said they are prepared to welcome sports teams to play without fans beginning this month. 

Roughly one month remains until teams would have to gather for a compressed spring training, and seven weeks until the hoped-for early July start – health conditions and economic harmony willing. 

At stake is a significant portion of the industry's estimated $10.7 billion in annual revenue.

"The economic effects are devastating, frankly for the clubs," Manfred said if the season does not get off the ground. "We’re a big business but we’re a seasonal business. If we don’t play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."

Source: Read Full Article

MLB: Staging every game in one location an option, but not endorsing ‘any particular format’

Major League Baseball confirmed it is considering a scenario in which all 30 teams would play games in Arizona at Chase Field and multiple spring training sites, but noted that it “has not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”

In a statement released Tuesday morning, hours after an ESPN report indicated MLB and the MLB Players’ Association discussed a scenario that would virtually quarantine thousands of players, staff and game day personnel in Arizona to expedite the start of the season – as soon as next month, despite tones of caution from public health officials – the league said it has not “sought or received approval” from federal or local authorities.

MLB and the union discussed the single-site option in the two days following a Saturday conference call with President Donald Trump and commissioners from most major North American sports leagues.

Salt River Fields, spring training home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. (Photo: Matt Kartozian, USA TODAY Sports)

“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” it said in the statement. “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.  While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association.

“The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”

ESPN reported that the plan could enable MLB to start its season as soon as May, a highly aggressive timeline given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation against gatherings of more than 50 people that extends through May 10. That recommendation would preclude teams from even staging a truncated spring training, which would require at least two to three weeks to get players back into game shape.

Source: Read Full Article

Astros ace Justin Verlander to donate paychecks to help people impacted by coronavirus

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander is pitching in to the cause.

The two-time American League Cy Young winner joins the growing list of professional athletes who are donating to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of being paid during Major League Baseball's shutdown, Verlander and his wife, Kate Upton, revealed on Instagram that he is donating his paychecks to non-profit organizations responding to COVID-19 to help those impacted.

According to figures obtained by USA TODAY Sports, he will get paid $4,773 per day for 60 days, which is equivalent to $33,411 per week or $286,980 over two months. Players are scheduled to receive their first paychecks on April 15 according to an agreement with MLB last month.

“Everyone around the world is affected by this virus, and we hope to contribute to the families and jobs affected, the healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines and the many others in need of basic necessities, medical supplies and support at home,” Verlander said.

CORONAVIRUS & SPORTS: Get the latest news and information right in your inbox. Sign up here.

Verlander said he will choose a different organization each week, highlighting the group’s contributions.

Verlander was scheduled to earn $33 million this season. 

View this post on Instagram

Recently the @mlb announced they will be continuing to send paychecks to players while the season is suspended. @kateupton and I have decided to donate those funds to a different organization each week so that we can support their efforts and highlight the great work they’re doing during the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone around the world is affected by this virus, and we hope to contribute to the families and jobs affected, the healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines and the many others in need of basic necessities, medical supplies and support at home. As soon as the first paycheck is received we will be highlighting the first organization. We know everyone is impacted by this crisis, but for those who are able, we encourage you to stay home to help flatten the curve and look to those around you who need a helping hand. #covid19 #flattenthecurve

A post shared by Justin Verlander (@justinverlander) on

Source: Read Full Article