Providence College Investigates
Who Will Win the 2022-23 MLB World Series?
Margaret Maloney ’23
Los Angeles Dodgers
The MLB lockout was 99 days and the uncertainty of when opening days would occur was a question for all. An agreement reached by the Major League Baseball’s club owners and its players’ union after months of heated negotiations will allow for a full season, with opening day scheduled for April 7. Now that baseball is back, everyone wants to know who is predicted to be the World Series champion for 2022. While this is fun to predict, there is always the chance of any team clinching the world series title. However, this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the best pick.
There are three key players that will carry LA to the win: Trea Turner, Walker Buehler, and Markus “Mookie” Betts.
Turner has the perfect opportunity to show that he is one of the best shortstops in the league now that Corey Seager, the team’s previous shortstop, has left the Dodgers. With Seager no longer on the team, it’s Turner’s chance to show what he can do at shortstop. It is also the last year of his contract, meaning that he knows he needs to perform. Turner finished the 2021 season leading the majors with a .328 batting average and 195 base hits, his second consecutive season leading the major leagues in hits. He also led the National League with 32 stolen bases and 319 total bases. He had the fastest sprint speed of all major league players at 30.7 feet per second.
Buehler has finally earned the title of Opening Day starting pitcher for the Dodgers. Dave Roberts, manager of the team, said the decision of who would start Opening Day could have gone either way between Clayton Kershaw (the other Dodgers pitcher) and Buehler. It would have been Kershaw’s franchise-leading 10th Opening Day start. Instead, the Dodgers felt that with what Buehler accomplished last season, the timing was right for him to make his first Opening Day start. Buehler has established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League, as the two-time All-Star went 16-4 with a 2.47 ERA last season and made all 33 of his scheduled starts for the first time in his career. Buehler also pitched a career-high of 207 2/3 innings, going into at least the sixth inning 29 times.
Betts has now won an MVP Award, two World Series titles, been the American League batting champion, and has gone 30-30 in a single season. In 2021, he played in 122 games for the Dodgers, with a .264 batting average, 23 home runs, and 58 RBI. As a crucial right outfielder, Betts will be on a watch list as one of the best performers in the league.
The manager of the Dodgers said in a public setting, “We are winning the World Series in 2022… We will win the World Series this year, put it on record.”
Patrick Walsh ’24
Boston Red Sox
A team with a great chance to earn some hardware is the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox play in one of the league’s toughest divisions, but they are a team that always finds ways to win games. Boston exceeded many baseball fans’ predictions last year by securing a playoff berth and making it to the ALCS before losing to a powerhouse Houston Astros team. The Sox are looking for revenge and are determined to get back to the World Series.
This is another team with a complete roster on both sides of the field. They were also plagued with injuries all season long.
It is hard to see somone competing agains the Los Angeles Dodgers with their free agency moves.
The Los Angeles Dodgers as a team that has a chance to go to their fourth World Series in the last six years.
It is hard to understand how a team with Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw, etc., can get better, but it did. The Dodgers were the lucky winners in the Freddie Freeman sweepstakes, who was arguably the best free agent available this offseason.
With a healthy roster this season, the Dodgers are a force to be reckoned with.
However, the Red Sox have Chris Sale, their ace who was acquired in 2016 only appeared in nine games with a 5-1 record. Not being able to get a full season of work hurt the team because Sale was not entirely ready to pitch when the postseason came around.
Luckily for the Red Sox, pitchers Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and Eduardo Rodriguez played major roles in their success last season.
The best part of this team, at least last season, was their bats.
Led by Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox were able to collect 829 runs and 219 home runs. The Red Sox were also part of a blockbuster deal in 2020 that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.
The main players they acquired were Kiké Hernandez and Alex Verdugo. Verdugo had his best career season bringing in 13 homers and 63 runs. Kiké Hernandez also tallied 20 home runs for one of his most memorable seasons. His best moments of the season came in the playoffs, where he went 15-for-25 in his last five games, producing five homers, four doubles, and an incredible .600 batting average.
The Red Sox will make it back and win the final series because of their relentless style of play and complete roster.
Should Steroid Users Be in the Baseball HOF?
Providence College Investigates
By Will Murphy ’23
The Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced the inductees for 2022, but unfortunately, those who were not chosen to be inducted have been more of a story than those who have been.
While some of baseball’s biggest stars over the past 20 years had the honor of being inducted, such as former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, others did not hear their names called in their last year eligible to appear on the ballot.
As it stands, to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is required to have at least 75 percent of the votes. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa all had legendary careers playing Major League Baseball. Bonds was in the league from 1986-2007, Clemens played from 1984-2007, and Sosa played in 18 seasons from 1989-2005, but each was unable to reach the 75 percent threshold necessary for induction.
The reasoning behind many of voters’ exclusion of these stars was steroid use, whether it was proven or alleged. It is not necessarily in the best interest of baseball to keep the players who may or may not have used steroids from making the Baseball Hall of Fame. The stated mission of the Baseball Hall of Fame is to tell the story of baseball to its audience.
By leaving out stars such as Bonds and Clemens, an important part of baseball’s story is being excluded. Many players during the steroid era changed the game for the better throughout their remarkable careers which shaped the way baseball is played today. This era was a period of time when it was believed a number of players were using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) from the late 1980s to the late 2000s. Testing for PEDs in the MLB did not begin until 2003.
It is impossible to accurately tell the story of baseball while leaving out memorable events such as “The Great Home Run Race of 1998” between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Although both players are alleged steroid users, Sosa has denied the use of steroids while McGwire has admitted to steroid use. These players’ home run race in 1998 brought many new fans to baseball.
Leaving out events and players as monumental as these from the Hall of Fame seriously damages the stated goal: tell baseball’s story.
Another reason against leaving alleged steroid users out of the Baseball Hall of Fame is poor consistency. It sends the wrong message to allow some rumored steroid users into the Hall of Fame, but holds others out for the sole reason that they were rumored to have used steroids.
By Margaret Maloney ’23
There are three reasons why steroid users should not be allowed in the MLB Hall of Fame. One: holding these players accountable upholds morality in that it does not reward those who cheated during their careers. Two: although steroids became relatively common in the MLB, their prevalence in the league should not condone their use. Three: accepting steroid users into the Hall of Fame would marginalize the accomplishments of clean players.
Current talk surrounding steroid users entering the Hall of Fame has increased lately due to the most recent slate of nominees, including David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens. Ortiz received 77.9 percent of the votes and was inducted into Cooperstown, while Bonds (66 percent of the votes) and Clemens (65.2 percent of the votes) failed to be admitted into the Hall of Fame due to their steroid use. This was the last time Bonds and Clemens will be eligible for the ballot.
Bonds is arguably one of the greatest players of all time, hitting the most home runs at 762. Due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs, he is not in the MLB Hall of Fame, which is the correct outcome. Although his greatness cannot be overlooked, leaving him out of Cooperstown upholds the ethical standards of the Hall of Fame and maintains the honor for those who played baseball clean throughout their careers.
Clemens is another baseball great and arguably one of the best pitchers the league has ever seen, owing to his nickname “Rocket.” Like Bonds, he was not inducted into the Hall of Fame due to steroid usage. Again, this outcome maintains baseball’s moral responsibility to only induct those who did not seek to gain an unfair advantage on the diamond.
The Hall of Fame should be kept as an institution that honors the greatest players in MLB history but also must leave this recognition for those who achieved their success the right way. Ortiz is an example of such a player, being one of the league’s most feared hitters who turned the Boston Red Sox into a World-Series-winning team. He is an essential spokesperson for the franchise and is admired for his contributions on-and-off the field.
Reflecting upon this most recent Hall of Fame ballot, the voters made the correct decision in ultimately not inducting Bonds and Clemens into Cooperstown.
MLB Free Agency Update
By Stephen Foster ’22
The 2021-2022 Major League Baseball offseason is off to a hot start with unpredictable free agency moves and trades. Some teams struck gold with new talent, meaning other teams lost their stars and will need to find ways to fill their roster with equal or better talent. However, the biggest story to date is the first MLB lockout and labor stoppage since the player strike in 1994.
When Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 2, team owners voted to enter a lockout due to failure to reach a new deal with players. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, or CBA, is the agreement between the MLB Players Association and Major League Baseball which determines the rules of employment and the financial structure of the game. The lockout caused by the failure to agree on a new CBA results in the temporary halt of all transactions until a new agreement is finalized and agreed upon by both parties.
The MLB Players Union believes that the lockout was caused unnecessarily by team owners. They released a statement on Twitter saying, “This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason. It was the owners’ choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just Players, but the game and industry as a whole.” On the other hand, commissioner Rob Manfred emphasized that the lockout is necessary in order to avoid missing time once the season begins because of the failed agreement. Regardless of whether it is necessary, the lockout is happening and will stop MLB transactions, including Free Agency, until a new agreement is reached.
Even with the pause, MLB teams have been working hard to improve their rosters for the 2021-2022 season. Some of the most substantial moves so far have the possibility to completely turn a losing team from 2020-2021 into an instant competitor.
The biggest example seems to be the Texas Rangers, the most unexpected story in the offseason. After trading away top players like 2021 Gold Glove-winning outfielder Joey Gallo at the trade deadline, the Rangers have spent more than a half-billion dollars in the few weeks since the Free Agency period began. This money has gone towards a ten-year, $325 million deal with shortstop Corey Seager, a seven-year, $175 million contract with second base/shortstop Marcus Semien, and a four-year, $56 million deal with starting pitcher John Gray.
Although these moves promise to improve the Texas Rangers, the jury is still out on whether they can fix their 2021 record of 60 wins and 102 losses. Their record last season left them in last place in the AL West, a whole 17 games behind the next worst team in the division. I predict that the Rangers will not be able to do any damage in the AL West for several years due to their abundant weaknesses across the board, everywhere except middle infield. However, these contracts are long enough that they should still be around once Texas’ top prospects are called up in a few years, including infielder Josh Jung. The question is, will Seager and Semien still be top players by the time Texas is ready to make a push for the World Series? Baseball fans will have to wait and see.
Minor League Baseball: A Hopeful Start for Change
MLB Providing Housing for Players
Ben Bilotti ’23
On Oct. 17, 2021, ESPN reporter, Jeff Passan, reported that Major League Baseball will now require all teams to provide housing for minor league players starting in 2022. MLB has yet to lay out a formal plan, but many teams are already forming their own arrangements.
Over the years, Minor League Baseball players have complained about rough working and living conditions. Players and fans alike have criticized organizations for low salaries that leave many players living below the poverty line. Low salaries and insufficient housing provisions are the main causes of players living below the poverty line.
This new rule is a huge step for Minor and Major League Baseball. The executive director of Advocates of Minor Leagues, Harry Marino, was quoted saying, “This is a historic victory for Minor League Baseball players.”
This truly is a historic victory; when housing is provided, players are able to focus more on their development on and off the field. The extra money saved can go towards training, healthier meal options, and overall better well-being.
Up until last year, MiLB players were criminally underpaid. One story is of Shane Kelso, a Low-A player in the Los Angeles Angels organization. Kelso retired in the middle of the 2021 season. Kelso claimed that he was losing $1,000 a month and would be broke by the end of the season. Kelso was receiving a salary of $1,600 a month, earning less than $26,225 a year. A person cannot comfortably live with a salary this low.
There is a serious mental strain that comes with living in poverty. Many players live together with four or five roommates in one-person apartments or even camper vans. There are not luxury utilities in the minors like there are in the majors.
Players have to find ways to pay for rent, gas, groceries, and every other necessity. With little money, players often find themselves unable to eat or train right, especially at the lower levels of the minors.
The total cost for a team to provide housing for minor leaguers is less than $1 million. Not all organizations treat their minor league players the same.
For example, this season the Houston Astros provided furnished homes to all of their minor league players. The Astros are the first team to do so, and many believe they paved the way for this new rule. While no other team previously provided housing, the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Phillies, Nationals, Giants, and White Sox all provide housing stipends, pay for extended spring training, and provide two to four meals per day.
Major League Baseball says they are seven months into a plan that will improve the conditions and pay for minor leaguers. Salaries have already been raised from 38-72 percent for 2021; however, this is still not enough money for some players to live above the poverty line. Providing housing allows more leeway for players to be paid less.
This is just one example of the new rules and programs that Major League Baseball is coming up with to improve the Minor League lifestyle.
Vice President and Special Assistant to the commissioner, Billy Bean, said that MLB is working on a mental health initiative called Ahead the Count. This program will foster dialogue in the clubhouse and provide mental health resources to Minor Leaguers. These are all great steps, but MLB has a long way to go with regard to improving their organization.
MLB The Show Gives Pitchers a New Way to Prepare
Chicago’s Giolito Uses Popular Video Game To Study Opponents
By Ben Bilotti ’23
The 2021 Major League Baseball season is off and running, and so far, it has lived up to the hype. Players and fans alike are excited to be back at the ballpark. It is still early in the season, but the level of competition thus far has been high.
Despite being far too early in the season to determine the game of the year, the recent matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox will certainly be a contender. On April 13, the two teams faced off with each throwing their aces. The Tribe threw 2020 Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, while the White Sox threw their ace, Lucas Giolito.
If you love a pitcher’s duel, then this game was for you. Both players pitched extraordinarily well. In a dominant showing, Bieber threw nine innings and struck out 11, allowing just three hits and one walk. Giolito countered by going seven innings, striking out eight batters, and only giving up three hits and two walks.
One key to Giolito’s success is a surprising one: video games. Specifically, MLB The Show, the most popular MLB video game on the market.
The 26-year-old ace has done several interviews with Rob Friedman, the Pitching Ninja. In these interviews Giolito breaks down his impressive pitching repertoire and pitch grips. He was also featured in a recent episode of the popular YouTube series Baseball Bits.
The format of Baseball Bits is unique as it uses a video game aesthetic to break down interesting baseball storylines. It is the perfect mix of baseball statistics and fun. During his sit-down, Giolito was asked a question which first surfaced on the internet last season: “You use MLB The Show as preparation sometimes, can you talk about that?” Giolito lit up and responded, “Yeah, [before] pretty much every start.”
During the video, Giolito talks in detail about his preparation for his starts. Every pitcher on a Major League roster is given scouting reports. These reports are extremely detailed and include information on everything from what pitch a batter does not like to what pitch a batter will swing at 60% of the time on a 1-2 count.
Indeed, it is an overload of information. Giolito explained that he has never enjoyed studying, dating back to his time in grade school. To maximize his preparation, the ace pitcher had to get creative, taking his friend’s suggestion to utilize MLB The Show to prepare for starts. He now does exactly that before every game.
The day before a start, Giolito sits down with his scouting reports and fires up his PlayStation 4. He does his best to project what the starting lineup for both squads will be the next day. Then he loads up a game, playing as himself pitching against his upcoming opponents. As Giolito mows down virtual batters, he takes notes and uses his scouting reports. To make the game more realistic, he goes through both rosters and updates all of the settings and presets.
Although his method is definitely abnormal, Giolito certainly has the stats to back it up. Since he began studying his scouting reports on the virtual diamond in 2019, his numbers have been stellar. His ERA is 3.38, and he has thrown four complete games, including a no-hitter. Based on Giolito’s success, perhaps more pitchers will soon begin to incorporate MLB The Show into their game day routine.
PCI: Did the MLB Do Enough to Punish the Astros?
Yes, They Did Enough
This past offseason was one of the most active and dramatic the MLB has seen in recent history. Compared to the past couple of offseasons, this year MLB fans witnessed big name free agents getting paid faster, more trades, and the biggest scandal the sport has seen since the steroid era. Many could not believe the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions, were accused of conducting an elaborate system to steal other team’s signs.
After the report from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred came out, the country was shocked by the levels of sophistication the Astros used. It was revealed that the Astros had set up a camera in center field and then put up a monitor between the clubhouse and dugout. Players could study the signs the pitcher was receiving from the catcher, identify what pitch was going to be thrown and then communicate that to the batter either by noise (banging on a trash can) or possibly other means.
So, what did this trash can orchestra lead to? The MLB handed Houston one-year bans for their manager and GM (both fired), forfeiture of first and second round picks in the next two drafts, and a $5 million fine. Houston then fired their manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox and Mets then fired their managers Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran for their roles when they were with Houston.
I believe that this punishment was completely fair. Obviously the two in charge needed to be suspended. There was no precedent for this because the game has not seen a scandal like this. A year was fine since the scandal only lasted a year. In the end, the Hinch and Luhnow will likely not be allowed in the MLB anytime soon. It would not be fair to punish other coaches and players involved because they are scattered on different teams, and punishing them now would also unfairly punish those teams. If you are not punishing all the players, you also cannot punish those still on the Astros. The fine given was the most the MLB could give and losing draft picks, will significantly hamper the club’s future.
Many people also wanted a postseason ban or removal of the World Series title. Both of these are trivial. The MLB wants to continue and put this behind them. Keeping one of the best teams or any team for that matter out of the postseason not only affects that team and the city’s local economy but also the league. As for the removal of the title, that does no good. Everyone will still remember the Astros as champs; you cannot just crown one of the teams they beat the new champion. There is no satisfaction in that, and it will only create controversy.
-Joseph Quirk ’23
No, Far From It
If a player in the MLB tests positive for steroids, they receive an 80-game suspension, a second failed test leads to a full season, a third leads to a lifetime ban from baseball. Former player/manager Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on games. Even players who were suspected of taking steroids have had their reputation tarnished to the point that it has prevented them from being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The punishment for using cameras to steal an opponent’s signs: nothing. After Major League Baseball investigated and found the Houston Astros guilty for using technology to steal signs, manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a year by the league and subsequently fired by Houston. The team was fined and lost four draft picks over the next two years. Meanwhile, the players were granted immunity for their cooperation in the investigation.
While the MLB recognized handing suspensions down to the players would trigger a battle with the Players’ Union, not even giving a fine to any of the players puts all the blame on Hinch and Luhnow. While both knew of the scheme, Hinch broke a TV monitor twice to show his displeasure in the scheme.
It is unfair that Hinch and Lunhow are taking the full brunt of the punishment of the scandal. It may be the leaders’ jobs to make sure that their team complies with the rules (which both failed to do), but they are working with grown men who were very aware they were breaking the rules.
Finding the extent of the involvement of each player is hard to pinpoint exactly, but if there is no punishment to teach players to not cheat, what is preventing another scandal from happening again? Even a basic fine can dissuade players on cheaper salaries from participating.
The only player from the 2017 team who has gotten any sort of punishment was Carlos Beltrán. Beltrán was hired by the New York Mets in the fall to become their new manager.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear that it will be on the leadership of each team to make sure everyone in the dugout and front office complies with the rules, taking the pressure off the players. What hurt Hinch was that he trusted his players too much and failed to intervene when he needed to.
Very few players have come forward to apologize, and no one still on the team has spoken. The people who led this scheme need to be held accountable for breaking the rules. The men who failed to stop it will serve their time, but how about the ones who were the ringleaders?
-Jack Belanger ’21
PCI: Who Will Win the World Series?
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
The Washington Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series to advance to their first ever World Series since moving from Montreal to Washington, D.C.
For many fans, it has been a long time coming since the Nationals came into formation in 2005. After winning the NL East four times in five years from 2012-2017, the Nationals were unable to advance past the NLDS every year. This led to the Nationals losing their coveted All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper to free agency. Many people wrote them off but, the Nationals were able to rebuild without Harper and improve their team for the better.
The Nationals finished the season hot and made it into the Wild Card game where they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers.
Because the Nationals have been underdogs the whole way and because they have certain key players, I believe they will win the World Series.
The Astros do have a superior roster in some ways, but the Nationals are not far off. Again, this is Washington’s first World Series in franchise history. The Nationals were able to overcome the Phillies and find a way into the playoffs. As of this past weekend, the Houston Astros are the largest favorites in a World Series since the Boston Red Sox in 2007 against the Colorado Rockies. The Nationals were underdogs to the Dodgers in the NLDS, then were slightly favored in the St. Louis Cardinals series even though the Nationals were just 2-5 versus the Cardinals this year.
The Nationals have that “October Clutch” factor that not many teams have. Just go back to Game Five of the NLDS where they were trailing on the road 3-1 facing arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball history in Clayton Kershaw. Back-to-back home runs by Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon tied the game and sent the game to extra innings, where Howie Kendrick blasted a grand slam.
In 38 at-bats in this postseason, he has hit two homeruns and has driven nine runs. Those nine runs are the most by a Washington National in postseason history. Kendrick is boasting himself for an early WS MVP award if the Nationals keep going on this track.
Let’s not forget the other stars on the Nationals. Their rotation will include Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Aníbal Sánchez. Strasburg, who is now Top-10 All-Time in postseason ERA with a 1.10, has been phenomenal this October. Sánchez took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in the first game of the NLCS is not something to undermine.
With the Houston Astros lineup holding the likes of Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and José Altuve; it is going to be up to the Nationals pitching to keep them in it. I believe that with the Nationals having the extended break, especially for pitching, they will be rested and have a shot at knocking off the heavily favorited Houston Astros.
By Marc DeMartis ’21
The Houston Astros are headed back to the World Series for the second time in the last three seasons. Coming off a six-game series with the New York Yankees, they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Although the Washington Nationals have quite the batting lineup to compete with the Astros’ strong pitching staff, the Astros easily match the Nationals firepower with a stacked batting lineup of their own. There is no reason why they will not continue their dominance into the World Series.
The Astros were already having a fantastic regular season with a pitching rotation that included two of the best pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (both of whom are coming off of 300 strikeout seasons). Then, making the trade for star pitcher Zack Greinke towards the end of the season was the final piece to the puzzle for the Astros. With a pitching rotation that includes three of the MLB’s best pitchers, it is going to be hard for the Nationals to hit as well as they have been all year. In terms of Washington’s weaknesses, their bullpen is not nearly as deep as Houston’s. With relievers like Will Harris and Ryan Pressly, the Astros have the depth necessary to go deep into games whereas the Nationals relievers are not nearly as reliable.
Not only is the Astros pitching dominant, but with a batting lineup that includes stars such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Michael Brantley it’s hard for any team to stop their hitters. Five out of nine players in the Astros starting lineup hit .296 or above during the regular season which just goes to show how hard it is to pitch to this team. Players like Jose Altuve have been red hot for the Astros this postseason, posting a team-high .315 batting average with two home runs, the second one being his walk-off that sent his team to the World Series over the Yankees in Game Six.
With regards to World Series experience, Houston’s roster carries six position players who were a part of their World Series win back in 2017, which is more than the Yankees, Cardinals, and Nationals combined. With experience on their side, the Astros look to earn their second ever World Series trophy while the Nationals continue to fight for their first ever World Series title.
Another important aspect of this series that must be mentioned is the fact that the Astros will have the home field advantage for this series. Considering the Astros were the best home team in the MLB this season and have only lost one home game this postseason, it seems highly unlikely for the Nationals to pull this one out.
Editor’s Corner: Crashing Through Gender Barriers
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Olympic gold medalist and former Providence College Women’s Hockey Team member Cammi Granato ’93 has been hired by the National Hockey League expansion team based in Seattle as the first female pro scout.
Team general manager Ron Francis said, “I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her resume is why she got the job—not because she’s female.”
However, there is a lot of importance in the fact that Granato is a female.
As one of the handful of women working in the NHL, Granato’s new position signifies that the NHL is beginning to catch up to current times and solve the gender inequality that has had a daunting hold over professional sports for many years. The only difference between the NHL and other leagues is that the MLB, NBA, and NFL have already made attempts to close the gap between the male-to-female workers ratio.
As of 2018, the MLB has over 100 women working in baseball operations (front office and on-field jobs) and the NBA and NFL have hired woman to take on full-time coaching roles. And while it must be noted that no women has been hired as a full-time general manager or head coach, at least there has been acknowledgement from these three leagues that women are capable of working within both the game and with the athletes.
MLB chief diversity officer Renee Tirado said on the issue, “There’s no sugar-coating this. There’s a lot to do.”
The acknowledgement towards the lack of female presence in professional sports has been lost amongst the NHL it seems, considering that, of the four major pro leagues, they are the only league who has been reluctant to hire women. Of the 31 NHL teams, there is not a single female coach, assistant coach, general manager, or assistant general manager. Even within hockey operations there is a sparse amount of women working.
With that being said, Granato’s hiring might be an indication that the NHL is finally beginning to realize that they are very far behind not only the MLB, NFL, and NBA, but also society as a whole. In a league where many coaches, GMs, and AGMs are former professional players themselves, Granato’s hiring is opening doors to a vast amount of people—male and female alike—to find jobs in the NHL. Especially for women, Granato’s hiring is proof that outsiders of the NHL can know the game and do beneficial work within it.
On her new position, the first female Hockey Hall of Fame and United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee said, “I know the game and I’m confident in that. I’ve been around the game since I could walk. It’s really cool to be able to do it as a job and I’m looking forward to contributing my opinion.”
Granato’s words and Francis’s comments on her extensive resume being the reason that she got the job demonstrates a solution to what has been the main argument for not hiring women to work for the NHL: that they do not know the game.
Gender issues aside, until recently it has been extremely difficult for non-NHL experienced players to break into the league. Even AHL coaches struggle to get a promotion. This is all changing. As of 2018, 14 of the 62 head coaches have never played in the NHL; the same goes for 13 of the 62 general managers.
Sports writer Lauren Kelly writes, “If there is a time for women to break into this area of the industry, it is now.”
Because, as with any sport, one does not need to play the game to know the game.
PCI: Are More Home Runs God for Baseball?
Yes, Home Runs Make Games Exciting
By Cam Smith ’21
Sports Assistant Editor
A decade after the messy death of the steroid era in Major League Baseball, a new controversy has shaken the baseball world: the juiced ball era. The league has seen an astronomical rise in home run totals that put to shame even the numbers put up by steroid-enhanced players of the turn of the century. This dramatic increase in home runs will prove to be the jolt of energy necessary to revive the sport.
Indeed, it is no secret that baseball has seen a steady decline in popularity. In 2018, the league saw a harsh 4% drop in ballpark attendance, the largest slip in a decade.
Fewer people are also watching the game at home. The 2018 World Series drew only 14 million views per game. In comparison, the 1991 World Series brought in approximately 36 million viewers per game, a startling difference of 22 million.
The MLB has taken steps to remedy these troubling trends, mostly centered around increasing the pace of play. In 2019, the league shortened inning breaks, capped the number of mound visits per game at six, and experimented with a pitch clock during spring training.
Over the past few years, the league has also taken another subtle yet substantial step: remodeling the baseball itself.
The new ball is characterized by a less dense and better-centered core, smoother leather, and significantly lower seams. As a result, the ball has less drag and a smoother flight pattern when hit, causing the ball to travel further. And travel further the ball has.
On Sept. 11, the MLB surpassed the previous record of 6,105 total homeruns hit in a season, with nearly three weeks still left to play.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has denied that the league is intentionally juicing baseballs, yet he has made comments recently that suggest the league would be looking at the specifications of the ball. This is seen as a likely attempt to increase drag and decrease flight distance.
It is justified for the commissioner to want to take a look at the ball specifications, but instead of making the baseball less aerodynamic, he should aim to make it even more aerodynamic. Baseball desperately needs the long ball to add some much-needed excitement to the sport. Indeed, there is a reason All-Star Weekend features the Home Run Derby as its main attraction.
No fan goes to the stadium hoping their favorite player will lay down a spectacular bunt. It is the homerun ball baseball fans want, and it is the homerun ball the league needs in order to survive.
To stave off the plague of falling ratings and shrinking crowds, Manfred and the MLB must emphasize home runs as much as they can, as it may very well be baseball’s best chance to regain popularity.
No, It Takes Away From the Roots of the Game
By Scott Jarosz ’21
As of Sept. 24, there have been 6,550 home runs hit this season in Major League Baseball. This figure comes with one week remaining in the regular season, as the last games are to be played on Sept. 29. This number has become a significant talking point throughout the baseball community, as home run production this season is the highest it has ever been by a staggering amount.
As a point of comparison, in the 2018 season, there were a total of 5,585 home runs hit. Going back further, in the 2015 MLB season, there were 4,909 total home runs hit. This increase in home run production in Major League Baseball raises the question: are more home runs good for baseball?
The rapid increase in the overall home run production throughout MLB history can be interpreted in several different ways. For one, some have argued that the increase in home runs is a result of the usage of new and improved technology by MLB teams. When watching any given MLB game from the 2019 season, batters can frequently be seen before or after at bats watching footage on tablets in order to prepare for upcoming at bats or review past at bats.
However, this theory fails to completely explain the shocking increase of 890 runs since the 2018 season.
A more common explanation of the significantly higher home run total this season is the possibility that the league is “juicing” the baseballs used in its games. Although this speculation has been going around for quite some time, it gained attention in July when Houston Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander gave his view on the issue, questioning MLB’s recent purchase of baseball-manufacturer Rawlings and accusing the commissioner of using juiced baseballs.
If the increase in home runs can truly be attributed to juiced balls as many players and fans believe, it is bad for the sport. Not only is it unfair to pitchers who are judged on their in-game performance, but it also takes the game away from its roots. If the MLB purchased Rawlings so it could alter the composition of baseballs, it would be problematic on many levels.
One of the most common explanations for the league wanting to juice baseballs is to increase the fan base, as home runs are considered among the most exciting plays in baseball. If this is true, the MLB is failing to understand that a significant portion of its fans watch the game because of its tradition and would oftentimes prefer to see a pitching duel that results in a 2-1 final score as opposed to a 12-10 slugfest.
Overall, it seems that the increase in home runs in the MLB is not beneficial for the sport, as it takes away from baseball’s roots and also can lead to longer games, which is an issue that the MLB has recently made a substantial effort to try to resolve.
Baseball Writers Elect Four to Cooperstown
Three Pitchers & First Designated Hitter Cement Their Legacy
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
With the winter meetings in the rearview mirror, the next big event on the baseball calendar before spring training in March is the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election. The voting for this prestigious honor is left in the hands of an exclusive few who are also known as as the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
Four members on this year’s ballot were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mariano Rivera garnered 425 votes out of the possible 425 votes.
Rivera is the first player ever to be a unanimous decision. Ken Griffey Jr. was the closest in 2016, earning 99.3 percent of the possible votes. Edgar Martinez and the late Roy Halladay ushered in 85.41 percent of the vote, while the final candidate to be elected was Mike Mussina with 76.71 percent of the vote.
Mussina was as steady and reliant as a pitcher could be. Mussina, a five-time All Star and seven-time Gold Glove award winner, posted 17 consecutive seasons with 11 or more wins while finishing in the Cy Young top-5 six different times.
Mussina started his career with the Baltimore Orioles before heading to the New York Yankees via free agency. Many debated whether he should be inducted because he holds the 3rd highest ERA for a pitcher to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Some argued this is because he pitched in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards and Old Yankee Stadium, while others state that he was pitching in a time when hitters were dominating the game of baseball.
Martinez had to wait 10 years but, in his final year on the ballot, he was able to reach the 75 percent threshold. Martinez was used to waiting, though. Signed for $4,000, Martinez hit .173 in his first minor league season where he did not get a starting job until he was 27 years old. Martinez ended up spending the entirety of his 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners, where he was a seven-time All Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and led the American League in Average twice. Martinez’s number may not be the flashiest, but fellow Hall of Fame Pitcher Pedro Martinez ranked Edgar as one of the five toughest hitters he faced in his career due to the fact that he “was a guy that had the ability to foul off pitches, and it pissed me off because I couldn’t get the guy out.” Edgar only scratched three hits in 25 plate appearances against Pedro, but his legacy lives on.
The late Roy Halladay got into the Hall on his first try and well deservingly. Halladay passed away suddenly in 2017 after a plane crash, but memories of him live on through his family and his fans.
Halladay was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays as the 17th overall pick in the 1995 draft, but he struggled early on in his career. In fact, Halladay was demoted to Single-A to work on his mechanics. Halladay persevered and became a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Halladay was one of the most dominant pitchers in the modern era.
He was an eight-time All Star, a two-time Cy Young award winner, and recorded 61 complete games from 2003-2011. This is 30 more complete games than CC Sabathia, who was second. Halladay was a consistent workhorse for both the Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies. During his tenure with the Phillies, Halladay threw a perfect game and a no-hitter, both in the same season. He became the first player ever to throw both in one season and become only the second player ever to throw a no-hitter in the postseason. Many remember Halladay by his nickname “Doc” for his flat-out dominance and control on the mound, and he will be missed by the baseball community
Surprisingly, it took this long for a player to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame, but there is no better candidate than Rivera. Better known by his nickname “Mo,” Rivera is a five-time World Series Champion and is currently the all-time leader in saves with 652.
Rivera’s story is a unique one. In 1988, Herb Raybourn, a scout, noticed Rivera playing shortstop at a youth tournament in Panama and decided to pass up on him. Rivera began to pitch and a teammate of his called Raybourn, who was then the Director of Latin American Operations for the Yankees. In February of 1990, behind Rivera’s house, he threw only nine pitches before Reybourn quickly signed him to a $2,000 bonus, and the rest was history.
He not only excelled on the field, but he was flat out dominant. More people have walked on the moon (12) than men who have scored against Rivera in the postseason (11), and he faced 527 hitters in the postseason, yet only two of those batters hit a home run off him. You can love him or hate him, but you have to respect the fact that our generation has grown up with one of the best closers in the game, and we may have taken him for granted.
The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame class is truly unique due to the fact that many of these players had to grind their way through and experienced failures along the way. It proves to any athlete or baseball player that pure determination and effort can take you anywhere you want to go.