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All of the changes that are coming to MLB this season

Email sent: Feb 13, 2020 9:18am

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Thursday, Feb 13, 2020
Hi there, it's me again. Happy Thursday! We're in the home stretch of the week and I know you've got enough left in the tank to ride it out, so let me post up on the passenger side as I feed you all the sports knowledge you could possibly need.
As always, I'm bringing a full plate to your inbox, but if you need some snacks for the road you can go ahead and follow me on Twitter for some extra helpings.
We've got plenty of good stuff to catch you up on so let's push that pedal, shall we?
📰 What you need to know
1. MLB announces new rule changes ⚾
Major League Baseball officially announced some new rule changes that will be implemented for the upcoming season on Wednesday, and some of them are pretty significant. Here are the new guidelines that all those filthy cheaters in Houston will have to find a way to disobey:
  • Pitchers must now face a minimum of three batters or complete a half-inning before they can be removed from a game
  • Active rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players (28 in September)
  • Teams can carry no more than 13 pitchers (14 in September)
  • Two-way players (such as Shohei Ohtani) can pitch without counting toward the pitchers list
  • Position players (not two-way players) may now pitch only in extra innings or when teams are separated by more than six runs
  • Teams may not reinstate pitchers or two-way players from the injured list until 15 days after the initial roster move and the option period for pitchers increases from 10 to 15 days
  • Managers now have only 20 seconds to decide whether to challenge a call (was previously 30 seconds)
The big one here is pitchers needing to face three batters or finish an inning, which eliminates a lot of those quick relief appearances out of the bullpen. It's pretty bad news for left-handed specialists. Traditionalists will likely scoff at this change, but it does make some sense if you want to increase pace of play and cut down on the time it takes to finish games.
But the most devastating rule change has to be the restrictions placed on position players taking the mound. We should all be working to ENCOURAGE weird baseball, and this does the opposite. Let the position players pitch, you fun-suckers!
2. Myles Garrett reinstated by NFL 🏈
Myles Garrett has officially served his time. The NFL on Wednesday reinstated the Cleveland Browns star, who was suspended indefinitely last season after swinging a helmet at Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Garrett's actions back in November sparked a full-on brawl. That trouble is now behind him.
  • Garrett met with Roger Goodell this week to discuss the counseling that he was required to undergo as part of his punishment
  • Garrett ultimately served a six-game suspension
  • The Browns said they'll welcome Garrett back "with open arms" and expect him to "continue to evolve and grow as a leader"
  • Garrett will be eligible to play in the Browns' season opener
Considering how ugly his actions were and how much worse the outcome could have been, Garrett is pretty lucky he only had to miss six games. But he's an undeniable talent who was having a great season before getting suspended, so hopefully he figures it out. That would be great news for the Browns, who could certainly use some great news.
Not such great news for the Browns (and Bengals)? An Ohio panel has rejected a petition that would allow medicinal marijuana to be prescribed for the condition of being an NFL fan in the state. Turns out they can't even puff, puff, pass without being intercepted.
3. The Knicks are the NBA's highest-valued team 🏀
The New York Knicks might be the NBA's most embarrassing and inept circus (as evidenced by this ridiculous story about their "brand guru") but they're also apparently the most valuable franchise in the league.
Forbes released its annual valuations of all 30 teams on Tuesday. Here are the Top 10 teams:
  1. New York Knicks, $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers, $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors, $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls, $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics, $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers, $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets, $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets, $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks, $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors, $2.1 billion
Aside from the Knicks, one of the big winners here is the Los Angeles Clippers, who moved up two spots after finishing eighth with a valuation of $2.15 billion last year. The Raptors' title run last season helped vault them into the top 10, knocking them down from No. 10 to No. 12.
The values as a whole have gone up 14%,and revenue has increased 10% ($8.8 billion total). That's an interesting level of growth considering some of the issues that the NBA has dealt with over the past year -- including declining TV ratings and the controversy with China.
Anyway, the Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That's the real American Dream.
4. MLB players sound off on Astros scandal 🗣
With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training around MLB (yes, already) we're starting to get some more quotes from players regarding the Astros cheating scandal. Some of those reactions have been quite interesting.
  • Marwin Gonzalez, who won a ring with the 2017 Astros and is now with the Twins, became the first hitter from Houston's title-winning team to apologize: "For everything that we did as a group, and for the players that were affected directly by us doing this... That's why I feel more regret and that's why I'm remorseful."
  • Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez on the video of Jose Altuve suspiciously protecting his jersey after Game 6 of the ALCS: "If I hit a homer and get my team to the World Series, they can rip off my pants. They can rip everything off."
  • Angels catcher Max Stassi, who played for Houston from 2017-2019, also apologized: "I was called up in August 2017 and I saw what was going on. When you're a lower man on the totem pole, you just show up and you go out there and play. I apologize to all those around the game, the people who were affected by it, the fans, coaches. Especially the kids who look up to us. We're supposed to set an example and do the right thing. We didn't do that."
  • Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney: "Somebody in the locker room had to say, 'this is f---d up. We shouldn't be doing this.' For nobody to stand up and say, 'we're cheating other players,' that sucks. That's a s----y feeling for everybody. I hope they feel like s---."
I'm a Red Sox fan, which isn't a particularly fun gig these days, but even I'm kind of hoping to see Gary Sanchez hit a series-clinching homer in the ALCS now. If all these crusty traditionalists lose their minds over bat flips, just imagine how they'll react when a team literally strips a player naked as he runs the bases.
On the topic of the scandal, the Astros are expected to have a press conference this morning to address their transgressions. Owner Jim Crane, manager Dusty Baker and players will reportedly speak to the media, so that should certainly be interesting.
5. Sedins have their numbers retired by Canucks 🏒
It was a special night in Vancouver on Wednesday, as the Canucks retired the jersey numbers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin before taking on the Blackhawks. The Canucks held an excellent hour-long ceremony to honor the Sedin twins, who are two of the best and most beloved players in franchise history.
  • Several of the Sedins' former teammates attended the festivities, including many players from the 2011 Stanley Cup finalist squad
  • The Sedins gave speeches before their banners were raised to the rafters
  • Every Canucks player wore No. 22 or No. 33 jerseys for warmups
The twins were drafted back-to-back by the Canucks in 1999 and played 18 seasons together in Vancouver while posting nearly identical statistics. They signed matching contracts every step of the way before deciding to retire together... it's one of the strangest and most delightful stories that I've ever seen.
Oh, and the Canucks threw an extra cherry on top of Wednesday's ceremonies by proceeding to blank the Blackhawks, 3-0.
Odds & ends
📺 What to watch tonight
🏒 Flyers vs. Panthers, 7:00 p.m. ET | FLA -132, TV: NBCSN
The Panthers are coming off a win that snapped a four-game losing funk and they'll attempt to build momentum in Philly as they take on a Flyers team jockeying for position in the Metro.
🏀 Clippers vs. Celtics, 8:00 p.m. ET | BOS -1.5, TV: TNT
The Celtics have won six straight at home but they'll face a tough test as Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers roll into town before the All-Star break.
🏒 Capitals vs. Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET | COL -134, TV: NBCSN
Alex Ovechkin looks to score his 700th goal as the Caps head into Denver to take on one of the NHL's hottest teams in the Avs.
🏀 No. 16 Colorado vs. No. 17 Oregon, 9:00 p.m. ET | ORE -4.5, TV: ESPN
Oregon has lost two straight games but will look to bounce back with a strong performance against a major Pac-12 foe in the Buffaloes.
📝 Top scores from last night
The Bucks, sans Giannis Antetokounmpo, were handed a rare L as Malcolm Brogdon put up 17 points and 13 assists in the Pacers win. TJ Warren had a game-high 35 points.
💵 Winning wagers: Pacers (-1.5), Over (222.5)
Donovan Mitchell had 26 points and the Jazz put up 37 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Heat in Salt Lake City.
💵 Winning wagers: Jazz (-5), Over (216.5)
LeBron James (32-12-14) and Anthony Davis (33-10-2) came up with huge performances to carry the Lakers to an overtime road win in Denver.
💵 Winning wagers: Lakers (-2.5), Over (220.5)
David Pastrnak scored three goals (39, 40, 41) to give him his ninth hat trick in his last 175 games and help retake the league lead in goals this season.
💵 Winning wagers: Bruins (-212), Under (5.5)
Creighton pulled the Big East upset over Seton Hall at the Prudential Center in Newark. Four different Bluejays players finished with 18 points on the night and it's Creighton's second road win over a Top 10 team this month.
💵 Winning wagers: Creighton (+5.5), Over (145.5)
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