This week's Twins mailbag dives, once again, into the future of Major League Baseball in 2020. And also the future of minor league baseball.
Q: If the Twins start play with no fans, will you reporters attend the games in person or watch on TV with the rest of us? Thanks. @terryjt1
A: Major League Baseball currently is re-writing media access rules that will allow us to cover baseball during the Coronavirus pandemic. I happen to be on the Board of Directors for the Baseball Writers Association of America this year, and we will get to look at what MLB has in mind once their draft of the plans is ready. Yes, we expect to be in the ballpark during games. But the days of being able to go into the clubhouse and see who Willians Astudillo is losing to in dominoes or to get pearls of wisdom from the starting pitcher won't happen anytime soon. We will likely remain in the press box and wait for a postgame conference call with the key figures from that day's game. I've been in contact with Dustin Morse, the Twins' baseball communications maven, to get a feel for how a day at the ballpark might look like. We will be spread out to comply with social distancing guidelines and have to do our best given the circumstances.
Q: Is the trade deadline still in effect this year, and if so are the Twins looking at additional pitching in relation to it? @thesweatytuna
So much is going on at the league office right now. There are the negotiations with the union about starting the season. And the league calendar is will have to conform to whatever schedule is laid out. Having a July 31 deadline for a season that starts on July 4 isn't practical. It will likely be pushed back a month or two so teams can figure out what they need.
As for adding pitching, even in a shortened season, there is a period where teams see what's working and what's not. Keep in mind that Rich Hill could be ready to enter the rotation in mid-July and has a chance to pitch in more games than expected. That's a boost for the rotation.
Q: How exactly will the "no spitting" rule be enforced?? That is such an ingrained instinctual habit, I can’t see players NOT spitting occasionally. @docmunson
I can't see how an MLB dugout can go from being a trough for the amalgamation of fluids and sunflower seed shells to suddenly being dry. First of all, everybody spits. Secondly, a player can be mindful of the rule, have an energy drink go down the wrong windpipe and have to eject. I'm guessing there will be a lot of behind-the-dugout action as far as spitting is concerned. And, how is that going to be policed?
Q: Will the Minor Leagues start up when baseball returns? @TJMattf
That's the great unknown. It seems there needs to be some sort of minor league for players to stay sharp for when they are needed in the majors. The Twins used 55 players last season. If 2020 rosters are expanded to 30, they still need another 20-something players to get through a season. Players get promoted and demoted. Players get injured or traded, There has to be plan for the "taxi squads" to get games in. But I've spoken to employees of minor league teams, and there is a fear that there won't be a minor league season.
Q: Not really a Twins related question but in your opinion what is tougher to do, pitch a no-hitter or hit for the cycle in a game? e-mail from John Culhane.
There have been 330 no-hitters thrown, the most recent by Justin Verlander. A player has hit for the cycle 303 times, the most recent by Cavan Biggio. That would suggest that it's harder to hit for the cycle. I think it's getting harder to throw a no-hitter in this era because so many pitchers are being pulled earlier from games. There were four no-hitters thrown last season, you can certainly argue. But two of them were combined no-nos, and one of them was four-pitcher feat pulled off by the Astros. How often will that happen?
Q: If there’s a 2020 shortened season, there’s absolutely an asterisk next to the winner's name, even if it’s the Twins, right? @campx22
Not necessarily. There were shortened seasons in 1981 and 1995 that were labor-related and not many treat those with an asterisk. I grant you that an 82- season, which is being proposed, will be shorter than those two seasons and will stand out. But, honestly, everything about this year is going to stand out because of this darn virus. This year will be talked about for generations to come, so much that no asterisk will be needed to designate the 2020 season.