Hello and happy PANIC SATURDAY, which is apparently what the last Saturday before Christmas is called. This year’s panickers still have a healthy cushion with Christmas coming on Wednesday, but regardless, if that’s you, here are some links to keep you company while you wait in line.
In Mariners news...
- Uhhh did we already share the Kyle Lewis/Evan White shoe shopping video? Oh no, we did? And the “reported interest” in Taijuan Walker? Hooooo boy. It’s already been a slow off-season, and with Winter Meetings past and the holidays looming, Mariners news is about as thin on the ground as holiday spirit is in the first act of the Rankin/Bass classic The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974).
Around the league...
- Another one of the big free-agent pitching dominoes has fallen:
The White Sox continue to go big in free agency this season as they fling their window of contention wide like the opening number in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical (GOOD MORNING SOUTH SIDE!). Aside from a Veteran Presence and strong “your funcle who took a year off to backpack through South America” energy, Keuchel should provide a steadying presence with the Sox’ stable of high-upside/high-variance arms. Along with Lucas Giolito, who finally began to fulfill his immense potential in 2019 with a five-win season, the Sox also have hard-throwing youngsters Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech poised to break out. Recently-signed Gio Gonzalez and Reynaldo Lopez will fill out the back of the rotation, and Carlos Rodon will return from TJ at some point in the season.
- Something to remember the next time a baseball team cries poor in free agency:
Which hopefully won’t be the Mariners when they round back into contention:
According to one source within the Mariners organization, when the team is ready to go for it, whether that be a year from now or two, money will not be an issue whatsoever. They're saving.— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) December 22, 2019
"We may not surpass $100m this year, but we'll push the luxury cap limit when it's time."
Hey! So we did get some Mariners news in here after all. It’s a Christmas-adjacent miracle.
- The other big news of the day didn’t concern free agency, but it does have wide-ranging implications for MLB:
MLB-ump 5-year deal provides umps with significant increases in pay/retirement benefits, including provisions to allow umps to retire earlier. Umps agreed to cooperate w/MLB in continuing to develop/test ABS (automatic balls/strikes) and assist if Commish opts to use In MLB— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 21, 2019
Heyman’s tweet clarifies that you should disregard any paranoia you see on social media over “MLB to institute robot umps!!!”—the technology is still being tested, and there’s an “if” in there that’s doing some heavy lifting. That’s good news, because when I had a chance to see the automated zone in the AFL, things were still pretty rough. Not only did the computerized zone spit out some wacky calls, but the slight extra delay between the umpire receiving the call and signaling for a strike seemed to incite the ire of players and fans alike. I would love to hear from any behavioral psychologists out there if there’s some relationship between the time elapsed in issuing a judgment and people’s confidence in said judgment.
You might know fifth-rounder Austin Shenton from his torrid performance in the Mariners’ farm system this year, as he rocketed from Everett to West Virginia in his first taste of professional baseball. You might also know that Austin is a Western Washington native and that his family is very important to him. Austin’s brother Ian is a member of the Max Higbee Center in Bellingham, which serves people who have developmental disabilities through educational programs, skill-building activities, and—most importantly—creating a community of friendship and support for people who might not otherwise have access to such a rich community of friends.
I’m a brother of a member of the Max Higbee Center. I’ve watched Max Higbee Center change my brother’s life so I decided to join in the effort to fundraise for the new facility. Here’s the link to donate and for more information about the Max Higbee Center https://t.co/zPpb5vZwTS pic.twitter.com/RfBhjx4qt9— Austin Shenton (@Austin_Shenton) December 21, 2019
(That’s Austin’s brother Ian in the beginning of the video there!)
The Center has proved to be such an important part of the community that it is at capacity and having to turn people away from programs and services. Luckily, they have secured a long-term lease for a new, much larger space that will allow the Center to not only eliminate their waitlist but also increase the services they can offer. The Center needs help to grow, however; money is needed to convert the space into a place that serves the Center’s needs, including creating a kitchen space and ADA-specific spaces like accessible bathrooms and a quiet room for people with noise sensitivities. You can read about the center here and donate via their GoFundMe here. There’s also a Wish List for items the Center needs on a regular basis (and if you’re shopping on Amazon, you can select Max Higbee as your beneficiary organization on Amazon Smile). Forget Panic Saturday; send your money someplace where your dollars can help transform lives this holiday season.