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A Crazy Old Week in Baseball

https://www.sportico.com/business/commerce/2021/mlb-topps-relationship-end-fanatics-trading-cards-1234637433/
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The Major League Baseball season is well and truly underway; in fact, we’re now entering the stretch run of the regular season. There have been teams that have had hot streaks, others have gone on to record devastating losses to teams they should be beating, and standings have been changing all season.

But this week in MLB has been one of the most topsy turvy all season. And not entirely down to the action happening on the field, with many changes off it too also causing drama. So rather than focusing on subjects like what are the best MLB picks for today, we’re going to be looking at what has made this past week a crazy one in baseball.

Mandatory vaccinations for non-playing employees

As most are aware, there have been many changes over the past 12-18 months all due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve seen stadiums closed, games abandoned, and much more. But slowly, the world is returning to some resemblance of normality pre-COVID, first off for MLB was the return of a full game regular season.

Since then, new policies have come into place for many franchises, including new digital ticket systems. These all aim to help reduce contact between people and help prevent the spreading of coronavirus to avoid entering any more lockdowns.

But there are two teams in the MLB, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, who are going one step further. They’re making vaccinations mandatory for all non-playing employees. So this will mean stewards in the crowd, food retailers operating in the grounds, and anyone who is employed by these franchises that doesn’t step foot on the hallowed turf of their respective stadiums.

They’re the first in the MLB to adopt this stance, and may set a trend amongst other franchises too. The reason for doing so was explained by the Nationals in a statement released to ESPN: “As a company, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep one another safe and felt that mandating vaccines was the absolute right thing to do for our employees and our community.” This may not go down well with many people, but you have to admire their commitment to keeping everyone connected with the teams safe.

70-year deal comes to an end

Anyone who is into baseball, has no doubt at some point in their life collected baseball cards. And ever since 1952, MLB has had a deal in place with the producer of numerous sports trading cards and card games, Topps. However, that deal is coming to an end after a fruitful relationship that has spanned over 7 decades.

Instead, it is suggested that MLB will be looking to Fanatics, a company they own equity in, to begin producing trading cards for them when their current deal with Topps expires in 2025. Possibly sooner, if MLB decides to pay any penalties for exiting the contract early.

One of the suggested rumors for the change in manufacturer of trading cards for the MLB, is that a new company will be set up by Fanatics. They will then be giving equity in the company to MLB and the MLB Players Association, which will be more financially beneficial for both groups. Whereas currently with Topps, they just get a commission on the sales of playing cards.

It is likely any new deal will also have some sort of commission included, but with the added equity, it is a no brainer on a business case. Especially if the new company set up by Fanatics goes on to be a big success, as the worth of the equity will only increase, as the value of the company increases over time. It’ll be sad to no longer see Topps providing these cards, but MLB has to do what is right for them and will protect them better financially going forward, especially with the hits experienced due to COVID.

Longest MLB game since new rule implementation

Finally, some news that happened on the field. And it was record breaking news too, as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres by a 5-3 final, in a game that required 16 innings to complete. The reason for so many innings? The introduction of the runner-on-second rule that neither team could really take advantage of.

The way the rule works is if the game finishes in the ninth innings, but both teams are tied, they continue to play an extra inning, with the following inning being loaded with a runner on second base to help teams get points. But both sides struggled to take complete advantage of this, and kept tying over and over again, forcing an extra innings each time. Until eventually, the Dodgers managed to seal the victory in the 16th inning, making it the longest game in the history of MLB since the rule’s inception.

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