David Dahl and Scott Oberg have often been used as examples over the last two and a half months of why player safety has to be a top priority in any restart plans for the 2020 MLB season. Player safety is paramount because they are human beings, but guys like Dahl and Oberg are in an especially high-risk category with Oberg having three autoimmune diseases and Dahl doesn’t have a spleen because it was removed in 2015 after he lacerated it in a collision playing for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, the Rockies’ affiliate at the time.
Oberg has psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Berger’s disease, which can affect the kidneys ability to function properly.
Both spoke with Patrick Saunders, saying they are eager to get back to playing baseball and they trust that the MLB will have the right policies and procedures in place to keep them as healthy as possible.
Dahl said, “Yes, I’m at a higher risk, but I trust that the MLB and the medical personnel involved won’t put us at an even greater risk to go out and play.”
Oberg said, “Honestly, I think I would be safer in the baseball world than being out and about in everyday life.”
So that’s good news and gives us some hope. With the MLB Players Association and owners still negotiating about safety and finances, and not really making much progress, only time will tell if Dahl and Oberg, along with the rest of the Rockies will get their chance to play.
This is rough. We all knew that the state of the MiLB wasn’t strong and that a 2020 season wasn’t likely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s just brutal to see the repercussions. Jeff Passan is reporting that up to 1,000 minor league players were cut on Thursday. More players could be added to the total, as well as minor league staff from front offices and game-day operations. Most teams aren’t releasing names yet, and as of late Thursday night, the Rockies hadn’t made an official announcement. The Score’s Robert Murray is reporting that the Rockies are one of 11 teams who are making cuts.
Most teams had initially agreed to keep minor league players on rosters and continue paying players $400 a week through April and May, which was better than nothing, but not a lot to live on. Passan reports that eight teams have promised to continue paying the stipend through at least June and some even through August.
The MiLB was already planning on downsizing by 2021, losing 42 teams. Then came the pandemic and a pause on all baseball. The MiLB season hasn’t officially been cancelled, but it would be very surprising if it were to make a comeback. The current plan to restart MLB in 2020 includes each team having a 20-man taxi squad that will practice and be ready to join the big leagues when needed. This will include highly-touted prospects and roster backups to fill spots in case of injuries. Twenty is nothing compared to the full rosters of players each team has with all its minor league affiliates, but this should still save some jobs. Unfortunately, those who are cut might not have many options to play baseball in the U.S. in the near future.
One of the few names released on Thursday is former Rockies’ All-Star and fan-favorite Carlos González. CarGo had signed a minor league deal with Seattle in February for $750,000 plus performance bonuses if he made the Mariners’ squad, according to Bleacher Report. He’s now a free agent, hoping another team might need his services.
One hall of fame at a time, maybe the Toddfather can work his way up to Cooperstown. In 2014, Helton was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and his No. 17 has already been retired at Coors Field.
Now, the Rockies all-time great will be inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in July. Helton was born in Knoxville, then starred in football and baseball at Knoxville Central High School, winning a baseball state championship his sophomore year. Here is a great link to his high school and college accolades, both on and off the field, as well as an outstanding high school year book photo.
After getting a full-ride scholarship to the University of Tennessee to play baseball and football, he was named a Gatorade Player of the Year for both. A knee injury may have led to him being Wally Pipped by a guy named Peyton Manning as the Vols’ quarterback, but that just helped him focus on baseball. Then he led Tennessee to the College World Series in 1995 and was named the best player in college baseball with the Dick Howser Trophy.
Helton definitely belongs in the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame (and maybe even round up to the entire state of Tennessee). Come on Cooperstown.
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