Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live STL sports chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Join columnist Ben Frederickson for a live STL sports chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday

Ben Frederickson answers your Cardinals, Blues, St. Louis City, Mizzou and SLU questions in Tuesday's 11 a.m. live chat.

    Greetings, chatters. Apologies for the technical difficulties today that led to today's slightly delayed launch. We owe a big thanks to Beth O'Malley for getting us on the right track. I'm here until I have to head to an interview at 1 p.m. Let me know what's on your mind.
    Do you see the lockout moving into an actual impasse at this point? Deadlocked the other day sounded pretty close. Thanks.
    Today is going to be a big day. Since the negotiating teams for the players and owners left the session in Florida that resulted in two regular-season series canceled (unless they're made up later) there has been some more positive traction in New York, and another meeting there today. If there's not a deal done today there could be more games "canceled" but it's worth pointing out that after saying the first two series would not be made up, MLB is now saying today is the "real" deadline that has to be met for those games to be made up. Kind of like how a 28-day spring training is preferred -- unless a 21-day spring training works. The deadlines are fuzzier than MLB wants them to seem, and the players know this. That said, ever day with no deal is still losing money for all one way or another, and more importantly continuing to alienate fans. Minimum salary and pre-arbitration bonuses seem to be within striking distance. The big one remains the players' hope of lifting the luxury tax. It's not moving as fast as it should, but it's inching toward compromise, which is not the same as the often-discussed deadlock phrase that is being thrown around. We should have a better idea of things by the end of today.
    What's the over/under on baseball getting started,by having an agreement today?
    Best to assume the under. Especially after the way the last "deadline" day went from whispers of optimism toward games canceled. But the two sides do seem to be begrudgingly nearing one another on multiple topics, which is a somewhat encouraging sign.
    Hi, Ben. Thanks for the chat. As a University of Missouri alum who grew up in St. Louis and has lived in Springfield (MO), I find it interesting that Missouri State has become the more successful in-state basketball program, particularly regarding women basketball. The state's flagship university should be the preferred destination. If you were the AD, what would you do to revive Mizzou's basketball programs, aside from funneling money into NIL? Also, I loved watching Arch Madness. But, with all the on-court logos, basketball courts are starting to look like NASCAR drivers' uniforms. Thanks for your time.
    I'm not sure how that can be argued for the men's teams. Mizzou is having a rotten, no-good year and Cuonzo Martin is very much on the hot seat, but the Tigers were in the NCAA Tournament last season, and in 2018. Bears have not been since 99. Harder road for Missouri State, for sure. And Dana Ford is doing some good things in Springfield. But I don't see the proof to back your statement regarding the men's teams. If you take Kim Anderson era, ignore Martin's best seasons and add on this bad season, then maybe.
    On the women's side, I think you have to give a lot of credit to Coach Agugua-Hamilton at MSU. She's becoming recognized as one of the best young women's hoops coaches in the country.
    I've gone on and on about this before, but what Mizzou needs to do for men's basketball is decide what its expectation is, and how to close the gap between the program it is and the program that expectation says it should be. There are a lot of areas -- recruiting budget, attendance, fan engagement, ticket traction, NIL and more -- that do not add up when you start comparing Mizzou to programs most of its fans feel it should regularly beat. If the only way to bridge that gap is a coaching change, you make one. If you think you can get back to getting better results with Martin, and eventually get better results than he has had before, then you try to find those answers while maintaining stability. 
    BF,

    What number of ticket sales loss would it take before MLB/MLBPA sits up and takes serious, and I mean serious note?


    I get that corporate ticket sales are a real driver in the income from attendance but at the same time I think that even the "players" in the corporate world are going to realize that they can support other entertainment and recoup what they'd lose from not buying baseball seats.
  • Teams already are paying attention to ticket sales and the ones that rely on that as a big generator -- some unfortunately don't because they rarely have teams fans are dying to watch -- have to be concerned about what they're seeing at the moment. Many are in wait-and-see mode, for understandable reasons. The sooner spring training starts, the more likely fans and businesses are to move past that and get back to baseball routines. The longer it's delayed, the more those same fans and businesses are encouraged to spend their money elsewhere.
  • Thanks for taking our questions today. With essentially 15 major league roster players not being able to play in the minors as planned (for the extent of the lockout), how do the Cardinals adequately staff all of the minor league teams and will very young arms be at risk of over use.
  • The Cardinals won't be running up loads of extra innings on promising young pitchers just to get through minor league games. Seasons and schedules are planned out to help pitchers prepare and rise toward the majors, not break guys down. That would be a bad way for a draft-and-develop team to handle its investments. Hopefully there will be a deal in place before that becomes much of a threat. Fingers crossed.
    How much will banning the shift hurt the Cardinals pitching? Majority of the rotation pitches to contact, and while the defense is still great, it won't be as good without the shift.
    Not as much as some other teams.
    The Cardinals shifted 21.4 percent of the time last season, per StatCast data.
    That was the fifth-lowest percentage in MLB.
    The Dodgers, meanwhile, shifted nearly 54 percent of the time.
    The Cardinals have been much more willing to shift in recent seasons, though. That was one of the changes former Cardinals manager Mike Shildt welcomed after replacing Mike Matheny, and current manager Oliver Marmol had a big role in that edge being sharpened.
    It wasn't too long ago that Matheny was anti-shift because he feared it negatively affected pitchers' focus.
    The Royals shifted 27 percent of the time last season.
    Times change.
    I agree with your article. Baseball shouldn’t ban the shift. They need to teach their players how to hit. That includes pitchers. One of the main reasons why we’re so on board with universal DH is the result of baseball refusing to teach their pitchers how to hit for a good 30 years. We’re so used to pitchers standing up there like a deer in the headlights that we forget that MLB could teach them how to do this properly. They had to hit in grade school, high school, you name it. The game was made with the pitcher having to stand in the box and impact the game offensively. Also, makes them have to man up if they’re headhunters on the mound and keep them honest. Wanna know guts - see Bob Gibson. Intimidator who had the stones to go in the box four times a game. Sorry, I don’t want a dumbed down, watered down baseball. At some point billionaires are going to look at baseball’s antitrust as an obstacle to making serious money by forming another league. Sounds nuts, but if someone were to start from scratch their product on the field could be much superior to MLB’s. MLB’s game is expensive, boring and the season is too long. Americans aren’t done with baseball. They’re done with MLB. They’ve lost more market share and customers than InBev lost Budweiser customers.
  • I'm afraid it's too late to return pitchers to hitting somewhat well at the major league level.
    I don't think it's too late to challenge position players and designated hitters to adapt to make shifts less effective.
    It's wild to me that suggesting hitters can change is viewed as so polarizing.
    We see hitters change their swings and approaches all the time, usually to chase power.
    But chasing unpredictability is impossible?
    Sorry, not buying it.
    If beating the shift was financially incentivized, a lot more guys would be figuring out how to do it.
    We're talking about exceptional athletes here.
  • Ben, I hate the shift, I think it has created a lot of unintended negative consequences and has contributed greatly to the "three-outcome" issue. But, your article on this has changed my mind. Is it a real possibility that this CBA is gong to adopt the shift ban or this fuel for blogster rags?
  • Your check is in the mail :)
    I think it's possible, yes. When the players and owners see eye-to-eye on something, it's usually just a matter of time until that change comes. Like the DH in the NL, for example.
  • Do you with NIL on the table now Kofi returns to IL for his senior year?
    The big man is getting some serious money at Illinois, and good for him.
    And there will be more ready for him if he wants to delay his pro start a little longer.
    Some of that could depend on how things go for Illinois this season.
    He doesn't have much left to prove in college ball, and his limitations at the next level -- like his lack of range -- are not going to suddenly change in one more season, but NIL will make decisions like his really interesting. It used to be that it was best for a player like him to make the jump and find out what role awaits at the next level. If he can make another million bucks or that by returning, and it doesn't do much to hurt his NBA chances, he suddenly has a much harder decision to make.
    I'd rather play in the NBA than college, but I might rather make a million to star at Illinois one more season than sit on the bench in the NBA, if I can do that the next season, too. 
    Ben,

    Are you surprised there hasn't been more announced yet for the XFL that's less than a year from playing?
    The new owners have scheduled camps for Jan 2023 and set a kickoff date of Feb. 18 but other details, like cities, are still a mystery for now. The most recent announcement was the partnership with the NFL to try out rule changes and things that could, I guess, graduate to the league. They would be wise to get around to announcing teams soon. The USFL is competition and it seems to be ahead.
    Ben: Are the players making a mistake by digging their heels in on the CBT while giving ground on money for younger players? I think they are misreading the owners if they think the CBT suppresses salaries. The vast majority of teams have self-imposed salary limits (the Cardinals are a prime example--they spend plenty, but their limit is nowhere near a function of the CBT), so the CBT really isn't the deterrent. Teams aren't going to pay more for veteran players if the CBT is higher--that ship has sailed now that everyone is so value-driven rather than win-driven. If they players want to make up ground in salaries, doesn't that have to be with younger players?
  • Players want more money for younger players, sure, but they also want more money spent on players, period.
    They want a bigger portion of the league's revenue being invested in players.
    If you raise the minimum salary and get more pre-arb players paid more, but don't try to lift a luxury tax that is treated like a salary cap, the squeeze is going to be felt somewhere else.
    It's the debate of whether the money spent on players should be shifted around, or increased.
    Players want both, compared to last CBA.
  • Do you think there is even a remote chance that someone might try to start a 2nd Baseball League? the AFL took on the very established NFL in the early 1960's....and it only took 7-8 yrs for them to force there way into making the NFL join up ...the ABA had a pretty good run against the NBA and , was then brought into the NBA.. Why not an alternative Baseball league...that has NO DH...NO Pitch clock, etc....OR perhaps with ALL those things and MORE.. I would imagine the money needed to do this would be immense...but?... I think fed up MLB fans..MIGHT just be open to seeing and watching .... thoughts?
    Doubtful. MLB has antitrust exemption and recently completed a takeover of the minor leagues. Close to impossible to compete against in any way that could be viewed as a legitimate threat. A more likely scenario would be foreign leagues that are on the rise starting to poach some of baseball's bigger stars, to the point that it's not just players who can't find a high-paying job in the league who go there. Remember KK? He just went back to the KBO, returning to familiar territory instead of waiting on figuring out what his next MLB step would be. Bryce Harper has flirted with a Japanese team during the lockout, perhaps in jest, but the league could not stop players from playing overseas if they were locked out.
    _Guess what Burnes earned last year? Just $608,000, or just $38,500 more than the minimum salary. He has earned a total of $1.178 million the past two seasons, which New York Mets ace Max Scherzer will earn every five days on the job this season.”_

    Bob Nightengale inadvertently highlighted the problem with the baseball negotiations. The players union is not representing their members fairly. The union should be attempting to negotiate a contract that closes the salary gap, not a contract that expands salaries for superstars.
    Why is a player who earns "$1.178 million" every "five days" one of the primary contract negotiators, while the "young players" go virtually unrepresented by the union?

    A union is supposed to be fighting for a "fair days pay for a fair days work" for all union members, not fighting to increase huge salaries for longtime union members while newer union members get unfair trickle-down salary increases.
  • Raising minimum salaries and increasing the money that can be made by pre-arbitration players are two very big components of what the players are pushing for.
    Creating faster paths toward free agency and arbitration were plans coming in that were punted on because they got nowhere with owners.
    Everyone can decide on their own how they feel about the issues, but the bulk of what the players have been advocating for this time around is getting younger players paid more and sooner, which is what you just argued for, I think.
  • Twenty-minute warning time, folks. I've gotta run at 1 p.m. to go do an interview. Fire away with questions or comments if you have them.
  • The NFL really dropped the hammer on Calvin Ridley. Fair or foul?
    It had to.
    Is it hypocritical with all of these pro sports leagues jumping into bed with gambling?
    You bet.
    The line has never been fuzzier, and that raises very fair questions about how easily it will be crossed, and what said crossing of the line could do to mess with the credibility of the games we love to watch, in part because we generally believe outcomes are not influenced by gambling or those trying to profit from it.
    I doubt Ridley had inside information or was doing anything other than having some fun, but he could have, and that's the problem.
    Even though he was not playing at the time, he could have had information the public did not, and he could have potentially found a way to impact the outcome.
    Unfortunately, for him, he is the player the league had decided to make an example out of.
    The example has to say this, without question: Gambling on the sport you play on is not worth it, because the punishment if caught will be more severe than the potential benefit of getting involved.
    It has to be treated like insider trading basically, where people will still do it -- that's human nature -- but many more will not because they fear the crack down if caught.
    Players should push for getting their fair share of the cut their leagues are getting by getting into bed with gambling, and stay out of the sportsbooks and off the apps.
    And if they must gamble, they better find a better way than using their personal info in an app.
    But, to JW S's point, the players may have been advocating for younger players to get more money, but when push comes to shove, that's where they have caved so that they can hold onto the few at the top making as much as possible. The reality is that the NBA has a better system even though it limits what the top players make (if you call salaries over $40 million limiting). While LeBron has probably never been paid his true value, many other players have been able to earn millions early in their careers because of their CBA. More players have access to big dollars earlier in their careers than they do with baseball.
    They haven't caved on raising the minimum salary or getting a bigger bonus pool for pre-arb players. They've been getting the league to bump up those numbers.
    A salary cap discussion can be had, but before that can be realistic the players and league have to have some sense of an agreement about what defines, once and for all, league revenue. They tend to disagree about that.
    russell wilson to the broncos oh my
    Drew Lock to Seattle? SeaLocks?
  • Hopping in late, what did I miss?
  • Short chat today. You've got 5 minutes to come up with your best stuff, Mr. Bruno.
    This whole CBA thing would be a lot easier if we knew what date the MLB Management side has decided we can have our baseball.
    With Justin Williams joining the Phillies organization we can officially put him on the list of most obscure Opening Day starters in recent Cardinal history, up there with Brian Barden (3B, 2009) and Manuel Lee (2B, 1995).
    Indeed.
    Good trivia question.
    Can he become one of the "ones who got away" though?
    Not so sure.
    Loud bat. Big power potential. Curious to see if he can make something out of it. Clock ticking. He's 26, and had some head-scratching moments on the bases and in the outfield.
    Gotta run, folks. Again, sorry for technical difficulties on the front end. Thanks for picking up steam after we got started. If I missed you or was out before you got here, track me down via email or Twitter, or come back same time and place next week. Maybe we will have MLB spring training to discuss by then.
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