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Don't Might

Don’t Rule It Out Yet: We Might Still See an Expanded MLB Postseason in 2020 – bleachernation.com

Although baseball will soon be back in our lives, it’s important to remember that the players union and league did not actually come to a new agreement. Negotiations happened, votes were taken, talks broke down, and eventually, the owners unilaterally implemented a 60-game season based on the previous March Agreement … the very agreement both sides were working to amend.

The implications of this path forward extend well beyond the shortened 2020 season, but in the near-term there is still some significant, immediate impact. For example, while certain aspects of the prior negotiations made it into the 2020 plans (universal DH, expanded rosters, etc.), other aspects were added thereafter (the new extra-inning rules).

But some proposed changes – including ones we’d all come to expect – have been left out entirely. For example, an expanded postseason.

In the absence of an amended agreement between the league and the union, the would-be 14 or 16-team expanded postseason field defaulted back to the usual 10-team format (three division winners and two wild cards per league). But while that may simplify some logistics and provide a more familiar experience for fans, it certainly leaves some money on the table for both sides.

And that’s why the concept is not yet dead.

In an interview with the Associated Press, union leader Tony Clark indicated that he would be willing to discuss and negotiate the terms of an expanded postseason, should MLB attempt to make another proposal on the matter, as is expected: “I would simply say that if there’s interest to discuss something, I’ll be available to discuss it,” Clark said.

Clark’s words may seem to imply a lack of eagerness, but his willingness is all we really needed to hear. After all, there is likely a significant amount of money at stake here, even without fans in the stands this season. And that consideration includes the players, whose only share of postseason money comes as a percentage of playoff gate receipts … a figure that could be close to, or literally, zero this season (it was $80.9M in 2019).

Seeing as the league was literally willing to blow up negotiations over the possibility of missing the playoffs (they were steadfast that the regular season must end on September 27th, so that the entire postseason could be fit into October, mitigating against the risk of a second-wave shutdown and ensuring that all TV contracts could be executed as planned), you can imagine there are still significant dollars available to them. And with even more games and more markets in play, that TV figure could be even sweeter than usual.

So that brings us to the next step: How does this actually get done?

Well, the league would first have to make a proposal to the union and that’ll necessarily have to come with some significant benefits to the players, though those aren’t difficult to imagine. With just 60 games scheduled this season, players are set to earn just 37% of their expected 2020 salaries. So any extra postseason dollars from MLB could go a long way.

But the obvious and immediate question is … Why would we expect the sides to agree to anything at all, given the way things went? In other words, what’s changed?

Well, perhaps without the added pressure of a broader deal, one individual decision (expanded playoffs) will be easier to settle. And with a few other variables to adjust outside of the money (14 teams or 16 teams? 2020 only, or 2021 too?) they might actually be able to make something happen.

Remember, even before the pandemic, credible rumors floated that the league was eager to expand the postseason to 14 teams – three division winners and four Wild Cards in each league – as soon as 2022 (the first year under a new CBA). So maybe there is already some momentum in this direction. I still have questions over how/when the additional games would be added – we’re already running a tight race and the second-wave threat remains – but again, there is potentially significant money at stake here, and that’s usually pretty good motivation.

And all of that is to completely ignore the fact that a broader playoff field could be welcomed by fans and players *this year* given the unusually shortened season. Obviously, this is baseball and anything can happen in small series. But the inclusion of more teams after a shortened season, first round byes for the best teams, and more opportunities/games for the field should help the best teams rise to the top.

Now we wait to see (if) what the league proposes.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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China Don't

‘Don’t ask me. Ask China’: Trump clashes with reporters then abruptly leaves press briefing – The Guardian

Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on Monday after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: “Don’t ask me. Ask China.”

With the stars and stripes at his back, Trump held his first press briefing since 27 April in the White House rose garden, flanked by testing equipment and swabs and signs that proclaimed: “America leads the world in testing.”

But during a question and answer session, Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent of CBS News, asked why the president constantly emphasises that the US is doing better than any other country when it comes to testing.

“Why does that matter?” she queried. “Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?”

Trump retorted: “Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer.”

The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”

The president replied: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”

The CBS correspondent pointed out: “That is not a nasty question.”

Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium.

Trump has frequently been criticised for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two.

Tara Setmayer, a political commentator, tweeted: “Another disgraceful, racist, temper tantrum by Trump b/c he was asked a pointed question by @weijia… Trump can’t handle smart, assertive women.”

Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California tweeted: “Dear @realDonaldTrump: Asian Americans are Americans. Some of us served on active duty in the U.S. military. Some are on the frontlines fighting this pandemic as paramedics and health care workers. Some are reporters like @weijia. Stop dividing our nation.”

Earlier at the briefing, Trump claimed that the US’s testing capacity is “unmatched and unrivalled anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close”. More than 9m tests have now been performed, he said, and where three weeks ago roughly 150,000 per day were done, the total is now 300,000 per day and will go up.

Trump said this week the US will pass 10m tests, nearly double the number of any country and more per capita than South Korea, the UK, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland and many others. But critics point out that South Korea implemented its testing much quicker, flattening the curve of cases so fewer tests were required.

The president announced his administration is sending $11bn to states, territories and tribes to boost testing. He described it as an effort to “back up” states but did not unveil the national testing strategy that many experts have called for.

Trump also claimed without basis that “if somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested”, echoing a spurious claim he made way back on 6 March.

“In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task,” he said. “We have met the moment and we have prevailed.”

Trump, who has been encouraging states to reopen, promised: “We will defeat this horrible enemy, we will revive our economy and we will transition into greatness. That’s a phrase you’re gonna hear a lot.”

Democrats expressed scepticism. Daniel Wessel, Democratic National Committee deputy war room director, said: “Trump says we ‘prevailed’ on testing, but his response has been a complete failure and made this crisis worse than it needed to be.

“Trump still hasn’t helped states reach the testing capacity they need, every American who wants a test can’t get a test, and he is only now taking steps that should’ve happened weeks ago. While Trump wants to declare mission accomplished, the American people are still suffering and will not forget how he gave up on them.”

The campaign group Protect Our Care noted that it was 13 days since Trump said the US will run 5m daily tests “very soon”. Zac Petkanas, director of its coronavirus war room, recalled that Trump promised that anyone who wants a test could get a test and that the US would soon be testing 5m Americans per day.

“This wasn’t true when he said it and it’s not true today. What is true is that more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives in large part because Donald Trump still hasn’t taken testing seriously. The only thing that the president has prevailed at is making America first in reported deaths and infections.”

The White House itself is not immune from coronavirus. Katie Miller, the press secretary for vice-president Mike Pence, and a personal valet who works for Trump both tested positive last week. Those entering the West Wing are now required to wear a mask or face covering, after a new memo was issued on Monday. Trump and Pence are being tested every day. Trump, however, is exempt from wearing a mask in the White House. It’s not clear if Pence will wear one or not.

The president said it is “shocking” how many people come in and out of the White House every day. “I’ve felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said.

During the press conference, Trump’s presidential election opponent, Joe Biden, tweeted: “Donald Trump and his team seem to understand how critical testing is to their own safety. So why are they insisting that it’s unnecessary for the American people?”

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