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Doc's Morning Line: You don’t want tanking in MLB? Go socialist like the NFL.

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 2/19/2019 Paul Daugherty
Rob Manfred wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

Sometimes, the most useful MLB acquisitions are those that get the least notice. We’ve duly covered the arrivals of Y. Puig, Kemp and three new starting pitchers. Meantime, the Club has signed Derek Dietrich for a year and a little more than $2 mil. This is as savvy a signing as any they’ve made since Scooter Gennett.

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You think Machado and Harper have problems (Machado reportedly reached a deal with the Padres Tuesday afternoon)? You think they’re getting squeezed by the game’s suddenly closed wallets? Take a look at Dietrich. He made $2 mil in Miami last year, his first arbitration-eligible season. He was going to just about double that this year. So the Marlins – one of those teams that is trying hard to win, according to Rob Manfred – dumped him.

The Reds get Dietrich for the same money he made last year. In 499 ABs in ’18, Dietrich slashed .265/.330/.421 in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park, or whatever they call that empty white elephant down there. Dietrich hit 16 homers and drove in 45, his numbers were much better on the road – hel-l-o-o Small Park – and, most importantly, he played LF, 1B, 2B, 3B and RF for Miami last year.

I’m not sure why a guy like that isn’t even getting a raise, but I love it that the Reds got him.

MEANTIME, MAYBE MANFRED SHOULD STOP TALKING. Here’s what he said in a news conference Sunday:

"This narrative that our teams aren't trying is just not supported by the facts," Manfred said. "Our teams are trying. Every single one of them wants to win. It may look a little different to outsiders because the game has changed, the way that people think about the game, the way that people think about putting a winning team together has changed, but that doesn't mean they're not trying."

The way people think about putting a winning team together?

What?

What is the way the Marlins are thinking? The Orioles? My Pirates Who Suck?

That seems a fancy, disingenuous way of saying what we all know to be true:

Teams tank.

Teams that don’t have an ice cube’s chance on the sun don’t spend.

The Reds tanked last year. They won’t call it that. They’ll call it building for the future. That’s OK. It’s still tanking. They tanked last year, knowing they couldn’t compete for the playoffs, wanting to see how the kid pitchers would do. They signed two middle relievers in the offseason, both of whom had good years. But two middle relievers helped them win one fewer game than they won the previous year.

The logic to tank is sound: Why spend, say, $20 mil more to go from 66 wins to 70 or 72. You’re still gonna finish last and miss October. Tanking is the way the MLB game is played.

You don’t want tanking in MLB? Blow up ball-onomics. Go socialist like the NFL. That won’t happen, for any number of reasons, including the national TV deal. Try getting the Yankees and Dodgers to share more of their local TV-radio money.

Do whatever. Just don’t put your commissioner up there to insult our collective intelligence by saying every team tries. "I reject the notion that payroll is a good measure for how much a team is trying or how successful that team is going to be," Manfred said.         

That sort of blatant BS makes my brain hurt.

ESPN.com:

Baseball reported revenue of $9.4 billion in 2018, up from $9.1 billion in 2017, but overall spending on team payroll declined $18 million, the first decrease since 2010 and only the second drop since 2004.

During an interview last Friday on 590 The Fan in St. Louis, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said, "I think unless something changes, there's gonna be a strike 100 percent. I don't think anybody's hiding that. I just worry people are going to walk out midseason."

Red Sox owner John Henry answered that by saying, "That's crazy. A lot has been said about the free-agent market, but it is a free-agent market. It's a free market, and a free market doesn't always do what you want it to do.’’

Bingo. Baseball players – and pro athletes in general – tend to live in this little bubble where salaries only rise, usually astronomically. The free market doesn’t work that way.

As for a players strike. . . Baseball attendance has declined the last three years in a row. Average attendance is below 30,000 for the first time in 16 years. And you want to strike?

The current collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players expires after the 2021 season. 

A FEW (MORE) WORDS ABOUT ANDY DALTON. . . Our Men man, Paul Dehner Jr., analyzes what’s next for Dalton: “When that future comes largely depends on how Dalton plays during his first year in Taylor’s system.’’

Future meaning, when do the Bengals go QB-shopping?

Two offseasons ago, I had a spirited conversation with former Enky Bengals beat guy Jim Owczarski. I said the Bengals wouldn’t win until they said bye-now to both Dalton and MLewis. The two had a nice, but ultimately average, run together. If you’re going to change, don’t do it piecemeal.

Jim-O explained to me how team-friendly Dalton’s contract was, and that it was a better idea to keep both and add the proper pieces. See what Bill Lazor can do for Dalton, said Jim.

Well.

Six-and-10 and last-place later. . .

Dalton’s still here, still The Guy. The new head coach has never coordinated an NFL offense except as an interim guy. His input into the development of Jared Goff was not overwhelming. And yet, we are to hope that his “system’’ will suddenly elevate an 8-year veteran to someone greater.

Why?

After a very good four games to start last season, Dalton was highly average the next seven games, before he got hurt. In three of those seven, he recorded completion percentages of 51, 52 and 58. Yards per attempt in four of the seven: 5.4, 5.1, 5.9 and 5.9. Lousy.

He didn’t throw for 300 yards in any of the seven. In three of them, he threw for fewer than 200. Five times, his QB rating was under 90. Average.

Of course, he had AJ Green for only four of those seven. But T Boyd had a breakout season, Mixon led the AFC in rushing and the O-line was not heavily injured. The team that started 3-1 lost five of its next seven.

Point is, Dalton is who he is. To expect him to become Ben overnight, because of some “system,’’ isn’t logical. He’s as good as the talent around him. He has had four OC’s in eight years. Only in 2015 was he close to elite. With each passing season, ’15 looks more like an outlier.

BECAUSE I CAN READ, I spent last week re-perusing Dan Jenkins’ 1991 masterpiece on the life of a big-time sportswriter, You Gotta Play Hurt. Funny, smart, perfectly cynical. Just the way we hacks like it.

That said, it would never be published today. At least not in its current form. Politically incorrect. Some would say incendiary. TML sez ckitout, anyway.

I LOVE LOCAL WEATHER REPORTS ON TV. . . More than a few years ago, important people running local TV news decided that the weather report should eat up a majority of the 30-minute broadcast. It was no longer enough to tell us what the weather is now and could be tomorrow. My favorite part of expanded weather is when they show us the temps around the region.

“Look, ma, it’s 28 here, but it’s 29 in Fairfield! Let’s go to Fairfield and warm up!’’

BECAUSE TV IS MY LIFE. . . Watching Murder Mountain now on Netflix, about a couple generations of marijuana growers in northern California. They’re not nice people. Legalization is making them less nice.

And finally. . .

STICK TO SPORTS. . . I’m getting numb to the president’s daily lies and the generally obtuse and me-first way he conducts the country’s business. But his defense of Putin instead of his own intel community is frightening. Trump believes North Korea doesn’t have missiles capable of striking the US, because Putin told him so. Even as his own intelligence gatherers say the opposite. Wow. Let’s get those presidential tax returns ASAP, OK?

TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . The Troggs were known best for Wild Thing, a tune Hendrix covered and destroyed. I like this tune better.

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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Doc's Morning Line: You don’t want tanking in MLB? Go socialist like the NFL.

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