*In McTaggart's 2020 Season FAQ, we find...
-The season will start on July 23 or July 24. The schedule has not yet been set.
-It's a 60-game schedule, with 40 divisional games and 20 games against the NL West in inter-league play.
-The Astros will open with a 30-Man Roster, and reduce it by two every two weeks for the first month of the season.
-Extra innings begin with a runner on 2nd.
-If a player/manager comes out to shout at Joe West or Angel Hernandez or Ron Kulpa and gets within six feet, he's immediately ejected and could be fined/suspended.
-Pitchers can have a wet rag consisting only of water in their back pocket.
Is it weird? Yeah. Is it crazy? Sure. But let's just enjoy it for what it is, and let's hope that every player and coach and staff member stays healthy (and all of their families, as well) so they can entertain us in a crisis. Let's not get bogged down with the rule changes and the weirdness - we can complain about Crooked-Ass Manfred and umpires and greedy billionaires, for sure - but let's chill out.
*Dusty Baker is pumped, but worried:
I've been staying in contact with the players. Most I've talked to seem excited. Some didn't want to be too excited, because they didn't want to be let down if there wasn't a season. The guys are ready. They've got a great attitude. We want to go back to where we belong.
*Two possibilities for the "Taxi Squad:" Sugar Land's Constellation Field and the University of Houston.
*Jim Crane wants fans in the stands. This is, of course, a terrible idea. Also, Crane, on potential moves this coming off-season:
We're in a position to be aggressive, no matter what the market looks like.
Keep in mind that George Springer, Josh Reddick, Michael Brantley, and Brad Peacock are free agents after this season. Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Joe Smith, Roberto Osuna, Martin Maldonado, and Chris Devenski are free agents after the 2021 season.
*In Dan Szymborki's updated ZiPS projections, the Astros have one of the easiest Strength of Schedules, and Houston is projected for a 36-24 record, three games better than the A's. BetOnline has the Astros at 35.5 wins.
*Richard Justice: 20 reasons to be excited about the 2020 season.
*Chandler Rome: Meet Cody Orr, the Astros' "most fascinating free agent signing." Orr runs a 6.43 60, can play five positions, and pitches out of two different arm slots.
*Jake Kaplan: What if the Astros had re-signed Charlie Morton? I'll help: Houston doesn't have to trade a bunch of dudes for Zack Greinke. Before the pro-rated salary thing became A Thing, the Rays were on the hook for $15 million in 2020 with a vesting $15m option for 2021. The Astros are on the hook for $50m (again, pre-pro-rated salary stuff in 2020) for Greinke in 2020-2021.
*Beyond the Box Score's Sheryl Ring says the Yankees might be in sign-stealing trouble, noting that Mark Teixeira said the Yankees would use a replay monitor to signal signs to a runner on 2nd, who would then notify the hitter. Ring:
The Astros' use of video rooms was considered to be an unacceptable rules violation, and the Yankees were doing something similar. The big difference here is the contemporaneous use of a trash can to signal pitches to hitters, and whilst that's a significant difference, both teams were using video monitors in order to learn and decode opposing signs. Assuming Teixeira is being entirely honest, this doesn't launch the Yankees into an upper echelon of cheaters, but it also doesn't absolve them from any wrongdoing.
*The Chicago Tribune had a piece calling for the Arlington Rangers to change their name. The team issued a statement saying they wouldn't do it.
*The Nashville Sounds might host a free-agent league.
*The MLB Transaction Freeze lifts on Friday.
*Collin McHugh is getting screwed.
*Friend of Astros County, Fenway Park organist Josh Kantor talked to the NY Times about his daily livestream concerts benefiting food banks.
*The Baseball Hall of Fame will reopen on Friday.
*Drew Magary: Bill Simmons has had this coming for a long time.
*Me: What happened to Seneca Village?
*NY Times: Ancient Rome was teetering, then a volcano erupted 6,000 miles away.
*Rolling Stone: Rhett Miller (whom I am blessed to call a friend) wrote killer drinking songs. Now he's sober and still at the top of his game.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.