Restarting baseball: Let's get WEIRD

The Cubs and White Sox could be playing meaningful baseball against each other and I am here for it.

Good morning, frents …

So with Arturas Karnisovas’ hiring of Marc Eversley for GM, have we decided on the hashtag blend that will replace #GarPax when referring to the team’s front office?

#Evisovas? #ArtOfTheMarc? #Karnley? #NotGarPax?  (I think I like the last one.)

Has there been a ruling? Can I get one?

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The stranger, the better for MLB in 2020

Seems like it’s been awhile since we talked Cubs and White Sox around here.

Then again, there hasn’t been much to talk about. I’ve tried to stay away from all the restarting plans that have been floated because so many of them have seemed like simple trial balloons. Most barely stayed in our attention for one news cycle before popping under the pressure of a global situation that evolves by the day.

What’s more, most of us have no idea when we might be able to go get a haircut or work in a coffee shop even for an hour or two. But Major League Baseball will beat everyone to the punch by coming up with a definitive plan to get teams in 17 states plus Washington DC playing two-thirds of their schedules? Ok.

I’m finally willing to start playing along, though. What changed? Well, the weather has grown nicer, it’s almost May and I spent half of Tuesday afternoon watching this Cubs-Expos game from 1985 on YouTube. I need this as much as you do.

So what’s currently on MLB’s plate right now?

My man Jeff Passan was first out of the box on Monday with a great look at the issues currently facing the league.

TL;DR version: MLB is set on playing baseball in 2020, but the approach is ever evolving. The league is content on waiting as long as it can so it sees how the country slowly opens up from this world-changing pandemic.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, however, followed on Tuesday with a story outlining the league’s next possible plan  after the popularity of the Arizona biodome approach  apparently fizzled.

The bulletpoints for this latest plan which one exec told Bob he was optimistic about:

  • A radical realignment that ditches the traditional leagues and replaces them with three 10-team divisions based on geography.
  • Season starts by July 2 at the latest. Every team plays at least 100 games.
  • Games are played in home ballparks with no fans — not Arizona or hub cities.
  • An expanded playoff of some sort.
  • Teams would first go through a three-week spring training at their facilities in Arizona or Florida.

Nightengale’s article comes with the same caveat noted by Passan. It’s too early and there are still too many unknowns to say any of this is even 50 percent certain. I could well be back here next Tuesday showing you another plan that involves the Cubs playing at a high school in rural Iowa and sleeping in tents on the football field.

But screw it: Look at this divisional realignment graphic from Yahoo Sports:

Give me ALL of the heart-eye emojis.

I’m in love. 😍

Look, there’s only one certainty for the 2020 MLB season.

It’s going to be weird, like no other season that has come before it.

Whenever it does return, people will be so happy that baseball is back they won’t mind if half of the schedule is missing or that there are no fans in the stands. They also wont’t mind if there’s some tradition missing from most tradition-bound of sports.

Major League Baseball needs to take that as license to try every idea they’ve ever had about improving the game but have been either too timid or unable to try.

Universal DH? Yup. Banning the shift for a season? Sure. Miking up players and having them play side games of RBI Baseball in the bullpen? Why not.

The divisional realignment is a good starting point, though, even if it’s something born of scientific necessity. If you’re going to have a 100-game sprint, why not make them meaningful games against all of the teams closest to you, regardless of league?

This plan has me at the Cubs and Sox competing against each other for the playoffs, but it also adds the Brewers coming back into the Sox rotation and the Cubs rekindling that World Series rivalry with the Indians. (I’d rather have both teams beating up on the Pirates instead of running into a Braves buzzsaw, but there’s a cost for everything, I guess.)

Here’s the thing: What if we end up liking these realignments more than the American and National League? The NFL thrives on divisions that are mostly arranged by teams that are contiguous to each other. Why wouldn’t the most parochial of sports enjoy the same success by leveraging its geography?

There’s only one way to find out, of course, and now is the time.

Let’s get weird, baseball.

Know a baseball fan who’d like to read this? Share and forward!

The day after the departure of John McDonough brought a statement from the man himself, released through the team, but no other ripple-effect personnel moves. Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus have already written a list of potential replacements. One name that both the Athletic’s beat duo and Jay Zawaski repeated from a source: Eddie Olczyk.

Jim Boylen would apparently be “blindsided” if he was replaced as the Bulls head coach, Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley said on Tuesday morning. Not to rain on Jim’s confidence …  but if John McDonough is out on the street looking for work wearing three Stanley Cup rings, I’m not sure I’d be as fearless as the dude who’s gone 39-84 with the Bulls seems to be.

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NBC Sports Chicago is hosting a telethon tonight to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Among those expected to participate are Eddie Olczyk, Horace Grant, A.J. Pierzynski and Brian Urlacher. (Sun Times)

Tribune reporter Dan Petrella’s column on losing his aunt to COVID-19 is heartbreaking, but beautifully written. (Tribune)

BUY: Chicago-themed t-shirts from Midway Minute partner BreakingT

Teddy Greenstein talked with Jeffrey Jordan on growing up Jordan, playing Illinois and what he thinks of The Last Dance. (Tribune)

• Co-signed.

Goose Island has an ice cream truck that delivers beer roaming Chicago. (Eater Chicago)

Reader submission! Bill Veeck talking the origin story of Comiskey Park’s exploding scoreboard: (Thanks for sending, Lou!)

• I didn’t know hanging jerseys in our windows was supposed to be a thing, but I’m sure we can all dig up a Mirotic Bulls jersey and a Hawks knockoff that your uncle’s co-worker was selling in the breakroom.

That it’s for today. Everyone have a great Wednesday and I’ll see you back here tomorrow morning. As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.

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