MLB Season Takes More Hits With Posey, Kopech Opting Out
Giants C Buster Posey and White Sox P Michael Kopech have both "decided not to play" in the shortened MLB season, making it 12 players to date who have "made that choice amid the COVID-19 pandemic," according to Joel Sherman of the N.Y. POST. Fans can "expect that number to continue rising -- and that it will not stop even after the regular season begins July 23 (if the regular season begins July 23)." Several agents and team execs "anticipate a decision-making tactic akin to when a college football player now sits out a bowl game because the risks of injury prior to the NFL draft outweigh the reward." There is an "expectation that wavering players might decide against continuing to play should they reach certain service-time thresholds." Sherman: "Why take on additional risks if certain rewards are achieved along the way?" There also are "likely to be veterans who decide to exit the season if their team falls quickly behind in the standings" (N.Y. POST, 7/12). In S.F., Ann Killion wrote, "Every single one of the roughly 2,500 or so individuals being asked to participate in a bogus, truncated baseball season have their own personal decisions to make" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11).
TREND SETTER: In S.F., John Shea wrote, "The world needs more clear and bright thinkers, and Posey always seems to be the voice of reason, the guy in the room everyone looks to for direction, the person who sets the tone, leads by example and, when necessary, provides a well-timed and well-received statement." Nothing about Friday's news "changes that." In fact, it "enhances it" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/12). Also in S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Posey's announcement "resonates like thunder in a sport desperate to keep its public-relations spin afloat." Jenkins: "What we're seeing in the training camps right now isn't baseball, but an ongoing circus, designed to please, and there are worried faces behind the clown masks. People wondering why the hell they're putting their families and loved ones through so much stress" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy asked, "So where is this going?" Every day "another bucket of cold water is tossed on our heads." Shaughnessy: "Do a lot of you really think this is going to work?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/12).
PR OPPORTUNITY: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote in the "face of such anxiety, it would behoove the leaders in the sport," Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark, to "hold regular briefings for reporters." Manfred and Clark "should provide the needed facts, address some of the challenges of the moment, and provide a fuller context of the difficulty of what baseball is trying to execute." Olney: "The relationship between MLB and the players' association is at its most toxic and unproductive in a quarter of a century. But in the effort to get on the field, the sides are theoretically united. ... They need to be working together to make this work, and Manfred and Clark could make joint appearances to answer questions, some of which would address current concerns of players and staffers" (ESPN.com, 7/12).