The JoeBlogs App!
We wake up this Wednesday morning feeling some real optimism for a couple of reasons. One, I have heard from multiple sources in and around baseball that the players and owners are coming to a deal today. We’ll get into all that in a minute.
Two, certainly every bit as important: JoeBlogs now has an iPhone and iPad app!
Well, it’s not exactly a JoeBlogs app — it’s a Substack app. But it serves as the same thing. I know from your survey responses that a very large percentage of you read JoeBlogs in your email, and nothing changes if you want to keep doing that. But I have been using a beta version of the app for the last month or so, and I have to tell you it’s absolutely great if you like reading on your phone or iPad.
The instant I write anything, you will get a little notification (if you want).
It’s a super-clean reading experience … as good a reading experience as anything I’ve ever seen on an iPhone. They did a really nice job with this one.
You don’t have to go to the website to like the post, share the post or comment on the post — you can do all of that directly from the app and it’s VERY easy.
I call it a JoeBlogs app, but obviously it works for all Substacks — I subscribe to several and they all just pop up on the app. I have them all in one place. I can archive the ones I’ve already read. They did a really great job with this thing.
You can watch video and listen to audio right in the app. So that’s pretty great.
Oh, there’s one other thing that you will only see if you read on the app or on the site … the app automatically updates with any corrections or additions I make (like this one). Unfortunately, with email, I can’t correct mistakes or add updates. But I can on the app.
Here’s the fun little introduction video (that you can watch right in the app!)
Obviously, you have your own reading habits — maybe you like reading on your computer, maybe you prefer reading in your email, all of that’s cool and nothing changes for you. But for me the app has been a real game changer. The posts show up instantly. They are never cut off. They never get lost in the spam folder. It’s pretty fabulous, I think.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve downloaded it and what you think — I’m happy to pass along your thoughts to the Substack team. I know they’ve worked super-hard on this and desperately want to make the app even better.
OK, thanks for your indulgence. Back to baseball.
And, yes, we really might be going back to baseball. I know that I’ve expressed naive optimism here before, but I think this time they’re simply too close to NOT make a deal.
What changed? Well, not to be too cynical but on Tuesday, Apple made the enormous announcement that they will be broadcasting a baseball doubleheader every Friday*. MLB obviously knew this announcement was coming, and let’s be honest here: It’s a BAD BAD BAD look to have one of the world’s biggest companies announce to everyone that it is making a massive investment in your sport and then cancel more games over nothing but money.
Plus, word is circulating that the Apple deal is not the only baseball deal in the works.
I mean, as I wrote on Twitter, even the owners are not that dumb or uncaring.
*When things settle, we will write something specific about the Apple deal because I know a lot of people already hate it — it will mean some games being taken away from local television — and I get that, but I actually feel like it could be very good for the game in a way. We’ll get into all that later.
There’s no question that on Tuesday the owners came at the players with the first really serious offer of this entire mess. Lockout Batman and Robin have the details, and here are the highlights:
— The owners offer an increased luxury tax threshold of $230 million, rising to $242 million over the five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players wanted $238 million rising to $263, so there is a gap there. But the owners’ offer here is serious and, frankly, more than I expected. I imagine Apple is paying a lot of money for those doubleheaders. They’re close enough to get this done.
— The owners do want another surcharge added to the luxury tax for teams that go $60 million over the threshold. This seems to be specifically engineered to punish New York Mets owner Steve Cohen for spending whatever he can to get a championship team … I loathe in principle anything that makes the luxury tax MORE like a salary cap, and I can’t say for sure that the players will accept it. But honestly, they should. I just can’t see how it makes that much of a difference. The luxury tax was already serving as a pretty hard cap, and I suspect that if Steve Cohen is determined to go more than $60 million over the threshold, dammit, he won’t let these other cheap owners stop him with another oppressive tax. All the guy has is money.
— The owners offer a $40 million pool to pay the best young players before they are arbitration-eligible. The players wanted $80 million, but just getting a pre-arb pool is a win for the players, so there has to be wiggle room here and I don’t think this should be a holdup. The owners are demanding that pre-arb pool count against the luxury tax, but that’s only $1.33 million per team (it would go up if the arb pool goes up).
— The owners are offering to raise the minimum salary of players from $570,500 to $700,000, with the minimum climbing to $770,000 by 2026. This isn’t quite what the players want, but it’s pretty close.
— There will be a draft lottery with six teams involved. There are some extra details that are not worth going into; this seems to be pretty much what the players want.
— The owners want the right during the offseason to make any expedited rule change they think will make the game better. We know that they want to ban the shift, make the bases larger* and institute a pitch clock. But they surely want more. They definitely want to bring in an automated ball-strike call and, well, who knows what else?
I actually have what I’m sure will be an unpopular opinion about this — I know the players like having a strong say in how the game is played, and in theory they should. But in practice — as much as I side with them on most things — I believe the players have often stood in the way of innovation and change. I get it, they are competitive beasts and are always looking for an edge and a loophole, and new rules mean starting over in some ways. The players, it seems to me, wouldn’t change much of anything.
And this is a problem. Baseball has been too stagnant, it has been drifting away from so much that fans love about the game, and the players have to take their fair share of the blame for that. It’s not that I love or even like all of the commissioner-led innovations; I certainly do not. But the game needs to be more open to change, and if that means boxing out the players to streamline the process for change, I have to say that I’m for that.
*A lot of people seem confused about the larger bases — it comes from Theo Epstein, who first told me about it maybe six or seven years ago. The concept is that while 90 feet between the bases is sacrosanct, the truth is that it isn’t REALLY 90 feet between the bases. The actual distance between one edge of the bases and another is … well, you probably don’t know what it is. Tango did a poll on this, and only 30% knew that it’s actually just 88 feet.
So, by making the base significantly larger, you will cut that distance down to closer to 87 feet without really changing anything noticeable about the game. And maybe that encourages a little more base stealing, maybe it encourages hitters to put the ball in play a bit more, we will have to see, but the concept certainly is interesting.
— There is an ongoing argument about the international draft and removing qualifying offers for free agents, and I’m not sure where all that stands. But if they cancel baseball games over THOSE things, well maybe we should just blow up baseball.
Obviously, we’ll see how this all plays out today. I cannot believe that anybody would be stupid enough to let today end without a deal, but as we know, it’s never a good policy to underestimate baseball stupidity.
What I can tell you is that whatever happens, you can keep finding baseball on your new JoeBlogs app.