STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

Bring your Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    Greetings, chatters. Thanks for making some time to jump in today. Hope everyone is fighting off Last Dance withdrawals OK. Plenty to discuss this week. Major League Baseball players and owners have discussed the owners' plan to return. Still no sign of a bridge being built when it comes to the differences about pay, but we have a lot more details about the hopeful plan for testing, quarantining, etc. Hockey seems to be moving forward as well. We can go wherever you like, for the most part. Let's roll.
    To all of you whining about the looming possibility of the DH, MLB doesn't care about what you think! Are they going to lose money on the DH? Unlikely. Are National League cities going to start boycotting games? Ha ha ha ha! Yeah, the DH sucks, just like interleague play, expanded playoffs (No more 1964 style, or even 1993 NL West pennant, er, division races ever again!), walkup music and pajama pants. But you can put up with it or vote with your wallet.
    I did after interleague play started, and have no regrets. McGwire, Pujols, Edmonds, Molina, Wainwright, etc. mean nothing to me. They're pajama pants wearing idiots as far as I'm concerned. 2006, 2011? Don't care. I wish they'd lost so I wouldn't have to see their World Champion garbage being hawked at Schnucks. I still watch Whiteyball games on youtube sometimes, where they know correct pants length, and the time/emotional investment is much easier.
    I quit watching the NFL after the Rams left too. I'll probably dump Mizzou and the Blues someday when (not if, those ugly SEC unis irk me every time I have to see them!) they offend me enough. It's easier than you think, folks. Use that time and money on something that will benefit YOU, instead of letting your emotions be manipulated by a privately owned monopoly (Yes, it's a business! They are ALL about $$$! Pretending otherwise will let you down EVERY TIME!) that you can't control. If they thought eliminating second base, making every batting slot a DH, and double runs for upper deck homers would bump up revenue, you'd see them in a heartbeat.
    Ben, I know your job depends on people watching other people play sports, so I'm not expecting you to agree with any of this, but for the rest of you, think for yourselves! Baseball is not all St. Louis is, and you are NOT obligated to keep following any team!
    I hope that made you feel better.
    Next . . . 
    Don't like the DH one bit because I like the traditional NL strategy, but here is why it will not be as bad as it seems. Baseball strategy has fundamentally changed since the 70s and 80s when rosters had 10 pitchers and 7 bench players. Back then the strategy was related to position players... PH, PR, Defensive switches. That element is largely gone already with only 4 bench players, one of whom is back up catcher and another is a late innings PH, neither of whom will see the field much. Now the strategy seems more in the pitching match ups with the large bullpens. So the DH won't be that much of a change from the way the game is already played.
    Good points.
    And remember, the rosters have expanded.
    Up to 26 for this season, before the pandemic changes bumped it to a likely 30 -- if the season happens that is.
    A couple of other pro-DH points I'll mention . . . 
    We hear a lot about how people are tired of strikeouts.
    We hear a lot about how people wish starters would pitch deeper into games.
    Adding a DH helps both. National League pitchers struck out more last season than they ever have before. They have never been more of an automatic out than they are right now. Starters that are pitching well would also be less likely to be removed now that the DH can hit in their spot, so we could see an increase in quality starts and maybe even complete games.
    I know many are anti-DH, and that's OK. 
    I'm for it but I've mostly given up on convincing people to agree.
    Few are like you, and willing to actually discuss pros and cons.
    It is a good idea to find some silver linings, though, because it's coming.
    Ben, curious your thoughts on the players whining on the latest salary negotiations. DG took me to the cleaners yesterday implying I was on the side of the owners. I’m not, I believe greed from ownership to players permeates throughout all professional sports. I get the health risks and if players don’t want to play then fine. But don’t whine about the money at a time nearly 40 million people are unemployed and suffering. And please, no preaching back to stop buying tickets and donate to the needy. I give large sums of money to multiple causes each year and took that point off-line with DG.
    What am I, the referee?
    Here's what I think.
    I don't think the players are whining. I think they are negotiating, same as the owners. The owners are just better at it. A lot better.
    Blake Snell's comments were really dumb, for a lot of reasons. He clearly did not understand the specifics of the agreement his union had agreed to on March 26, or the specifics of the change owners had proposed. I know that, because he made comments after live stream that attempted to clarify his stance. (You know, the comments no one read, because his misinformed take had already gone viral.) Players who don't take the time to understand the specifics are not the players who should be the face of the players' side of this argument. On top of that, the optics were bad. If you want to speak out about something that affects you and your fellow players, do it! But have your facts right, and don't do it while playing video games, becoming easy fodder for critics. The owners, I'm sure, were celebrating Snell's rant.
    The players have a fair reason to push back against the owners' proposal. They felt they had a deal on March 26. They don't trust the owners' word on how the finances make that deal impossible, and they don't trust the owners' word on the need for a 50-50 revenue split. They want to see proof, and they've asked for it. The owners should provide it if there's nothing to hide. Players have been backed into the corner by the owners releasing their proposal details before players ever saw it. Don't fall for that trick.
    But no defending Snell here. I thought he made a mistake, one that hurt himself and his peers in this debate.
    Now that The Last Dance is over, what did you think of it all? I enjoyed the highlights, the music was excellent, some of the interviews were cool. But I think world governments are jealous of the propaganda the documentary showed.
    I liked it a lot. Would it have been as fascinating if we weren't all confined to our couches? Probably not. But that's part of the appeal, right? MJ pushed it out early because he wanted to win our attention, again, and he did. I don't have problems with the framing of the doc. We knew it was going to be MJ's version of his story, and that's a version we don't always hear, because he has been so guarded over the years. I thought it actually showed more warts than it might. I didn't expect it to get into the gambling like it did. I didn't expect it to get into his personal life outside of basketball, so I wasn't shocked that it didn't. I'm surprised it showed the vulnerable side of him as much as it did, like the frustration he had with his growing fame at times. More than anything it reinforced the gap between Jordan and everyone else, and that's probably exactly what he wanted it to do. Mission accomplished.
    To me it dont make sense to play with all these safety protocols. It tskes a way what makes baseball fun. Might be best to take the loss and recoup next year
    Easy to say when it's not your money that would be lost.
    Owners and player have a shared interest in attempting to get this up and running, though it will be an altered product this season, if there is one.
    It's important to remember that the details that are out there are, right now, just a proposal from owners.
    Players will have a chance to change things before accepting.
    Some of the restrictions seem impossible.
    Is someone going to check players' lips for chewing tobacco before the game? Doubtful.
    If you high-five a teammate, are you ejected? Doubtful.
    Are players not going to get into a shoving match when the first Astro gets drilled? Doubtful.
    Are player going to wear their uniforms to the stadium on a get-away day? What do they wear after the game then? Are they not supposed to shower at the stadium before getting on the plane that day?
    You can see how things would fall apart pretty fast.
    So, my advice is not to get too tied up in the proposed changes until they become actual rules for 2020.
    BenFred, how does St. Louis benefit from holding a grudge against the NFL? Especially since you don't want the NFL to return (I want the NFL to return). Is it just revenge for revenge's sake?
    That's an interesting way of phrasing it.
    It makes it seem as if the only thing keeping the NFL from returning to St. Louis is the grudge St. Louis has against the NFL.
    That's not the case, though.
    It's not about the grudge, for me.
    I'm very interested in the relocation lawsuit, because it seeks to force the NFL and its crew to answer the question that should be answered: What is the purpose of the league's relocation rules if they are completely ignored?
    That question deserves an answer, not just for St. Louis but for every other city that finds itself fighting to keep a team.
    As for the NFL coming back, I would be against it because I don't see the point in a city trying to woo back a league that has treated it like trash. When someone is a bad business partner, you move on. At least you do if you are smart. If the NFL wanted to put a team back here in a privately funded stadium with no tax breaks, cool. But it doesn't want to do that. It wanted out of St. Louis, and rigged the relocation process to make it happen.
    I'll be honest, I don't care about baseball and it's borderline irrelevant for people under 40. But if you will stop watching baseball because of the DH than you don't actually like baseball, you just like nostalgia.
    I sometimes receive emails and tweets that say the National League's addition of the designated hitter will result in people not watching the Cardinals.
    I call baloney on those emails and tweets.
    I agree with Jack. The comeback that I should not support the Cards if I don’t like it is like saying leave the country if I don’t like taxes. I go to one or two games a year, if I am lucky, one here in DC. That does not mean I do not have a right to voice my opinion and try to influence the product. Blake Snell has a right to express his opinion, but he should not expect the 36 million people looking for work to stand up and applaud.
    I don't know what you are referring to here.
    I didn't tell you to leave the country, or not to go to games.
    Yes, fans can voice their opinions.
    That said, nothing speaks to teams like what fans do (and don't do) with their dollar.
    Don't forget that.
    BenFred, thanks for doing these! I always enjoy your columns and BPIB appearances!

    Just a logistical thing....it would be nice if the chat software allowed you to choose to go from oldest to newest or newest to oldest...the way it works now, it is newest to oldest. until the chat ends (which is annoying if you can't read them as they come up, since questions get pushed to new pages), then switches to oldest to newest once the chat is over.

    And a sports question--

    Is Hockey or Baseball closer to returning, in your opinion?
    I'm not sure if we have control over that chat function. It's a third-party chat service, but I'll send a note along and see if there's something we can change on our end.
    I would not be surprised if hockey was the first to come up with a final, official plan to return. I would guess it's going to start with the postseason and forget finishing the regular season. Hockey and baseball are having similar conversations, but there seems to be significantly less conflict on the hockey side, and owners and players will both benefit greatly if postseason revenue, even a portion of what was expected, can be captured. So, I'll bet on the dark horse here, the league fewer people are talking about.
    Why don’t the owners release their profits each year? Most companies or corporations do it. Is there a reason for this, other than they don’t have to?
    Baseball releases certain figures, and the players' union receives more information than what is publicly released. Simply put, individual owners don't make public their teams books because they don't have to.
    If the NHL returns straight into the 24 team setup, it looks like the 7 teams out would be ANA, SJ, and LA in the west, and BUF, NJ, OTT, and DET out east, at least based solely on wild card standings. Have you heard what these teams (both ownership and players) feel about not playing anymore? Lost revenue for owners, desire for players to get back on the ice, etc...
  • It seems like the players who have been the most vocal about not wanting the season to resume, or questioning the integrity of the postseason if it does, have been on the worst teams in the league this season.
    That's not surprising. Guys who have little to nothing to play for don't want to ramp it up again. Putting those teams on the ice against teams that still have a shot at the Cup could be dangerous.
    The postseason is usually a 16-team tournament. Expanding it to 24 should be more than enough to keep one team from getting burned. If you can't be in that group, you probably were not going to make it.
    The teams that did not make it will still benefit from the money made by the league.
    I think the Cards should have their version of the Last Dance in ‘21. Sign Waino and Yadi to 1-year deals. It will be Carp’s last year and this sentimental front office can bid all three a fond farewell. It will be an excellent marketing tool to get fans to come see them for one last time. And then the organization and fans can turn the page and move on.
    That could happen.
    Wainwright seems content to keep signing one-year deals.
    Molina's recent comments make it sound like he would like more security than that, so we'll see.
    Also worth nothing that Carpenter has a vesting option for 2022 that kicks in if he gets 1100 plate appearances in 2020-21 and 550 plate appearances 2021. If that happens and the Cardinals don't want to pay him another $18.5 million, they have to pay him $2 million to walk.
    For anyone still wondering how the level of play in the KHL compares to the NHL consider that Demitri Jaskin was named the MVP for this season. Does anything else need to be said? Granted he had 31 goals and 32 assists for the season, but any league where he can rack up numbers like that doesn't even begin to compare to the NHL (or probably even the AHL) talentwise.
    If you think the DH will lead to more complete games, you've lost your marbles. The addition of a better bat will increase the number of max-effort pitches required to get through a lineup. A pitcher will reach his stress limit sooner, not later.

    I'm closer to the feelings of the first guy. DH is probably the bridge too far that will end my 55-year love affair with the game.
    I've lost my marbles to think a locked-in starter sometimes gets pulled from a strong start so a manager can create a more competitive at-bat in a close game?
    My marbles are not lost.
    At least we agree there will be fewer empty at-bats.
    I hope you stick around to watch them.
    I used to be in the same boat with most of these people arguing against the DH, but now I've been considering it more thoughtfully since I realized it was probably going to happen in the next CBA and for sure this season. The part everyone seems to hang on to is the strategy aspect. I don't know about you, but I don't stand and cheer when a pinch hitter is sent up in an obvious move that everyone could see coming. I reserve that for when something actually exciting happens, which is rarely while the pitcher is at bat. Wahoo, a double switch!! Now the pitcher's spot was upgraded (with a bench player who is a bench player for a reason) and another part of the lineup was weakened for the rest of the game. So if a relief pitcher makes a mistake, the ability of the team to make a comeback is lessened. I say let a strong starting pitcher stay in until his pitching suggests pulling him. Let the strongest lineup stay in the game until true matchup issues drive changes. That is what makes for a better game and a more exciting game.
    Strategy is the big one, and I don't argue against that. Some will be lost. But some will also be gained, no? The strategy of a pitcher competing against a designated hitter is a lot more interesting to me than a pitcher competing against a pitcher at the plate. That's just a chance to go fill up the coffee cup these days. I don't love that it's come to that, but it has. All of the ranting about one-dimensional players should have started when it started becoming acceptable for pitchers to stink at the plate.
    Do you see a flurry of moves once MLB teams are allowed to make transactions again? How heavily can this affect the Cardinals?
    I don't. I think teams are going to be cautious to do much of anything until they have a clear idea of how trades work beneath the umbrella of the coronavirus protocols. The Cardinals don't seem to need anything at the moment, unless they go add a true DH (Puig?). But if you are assuming the Cardinals are going to make a significant player purchase first thing out of quarantine with so much uncertainty hanging over the season, well, that would not be very Cardinals-like.
    Good morning Ben. I'm not sure if I asked this in a previous chat so forgive me if I have.
    What's your heartfelt opinion on advertising pasted on jerseys (similar to soccer in Europe, hockey in foreign countries) in the four American major sports leagues? I know there is the Swoosh on some jerseys although they are somewhat minimized.
    I see it coming sooner rather than later in an attempt by the leagues to recoup some of the lost revenue due to the health climate.
    Are you for or against and do you see it coming soon?
    Thanks, enjoy your day.
    All good. You asked last week, and I said I think it's just a matter of time.
    I can’t wait to see Jack Flaherty say I’ll pass on this season. What a conundrum for the “ conservative “ Redbirds FO. Exciting times!!
  • If the players and the owners strike a deal, I have no reason to believe Jack Flaherty would not be on the mound.
    It would be a llllloooonnnngggg summer without baseball.
    Indeed. You can only cut the grass so many times.
    What’s your take on COVID reporting? Is it prudent to report case #’s that turn out to be false. Where is your industry at as far as newspaper owners holding their employees accountable for their work. Or has it gone the way of clicks like everything else? Curious, a click does creat a paycheck for some?
    This would be a better question for the editors in charge of the coverage, and the news reporters who are covering the pandemic, but I'll share my thoughts as a sports columnist and news consumer if that helps. I think the numbers are important, along with the context that comes with it. Cases and death totals matter. So does the amount of tests administered, and the percentage of people who have recovered. Obsessing over one number or vilifying another is convenient, but it doesn't help anyone get a better understanding. The notion that newspapers or their reporters get "paid by clicks" is a lazy, inaccurate trope. "Clicks" have become this collective term for engagement, which has to be tracked in a digital age. That can mean times the article was viewed, times it was shared, amount of time a reader spent on it, etc. Here's an example. I know our readers are interested in the ongoing lawsuit over the Rams relocation because I can see they read the stories. That tells me to keep covering it when there is news to weigh in on. So I do. Engagement helps us decide what to write about, what to spend time on, what to not forget about. But if engagement was all that mattered, newspapers would have stopped covering city council meetings and even certain sports. There are websites that hold "clicks" above all but they never have been and never will be newspapers. Until of course newspapers die out completely. Good luck getting decent coverage then.
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