Which unique venue should MLB turn to next? Plus, how Baylor avoided NCAA punishment

Hello everyone. I started this newsletter thinking it was Friday, but I am sorry to say we have two more full days before our weekend starts. Clearly I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but here’s to an amazing Thursday. 

We have the Field of Dreams Game to watch tonight(!), so I’ve been reminiscing about a trip I once took to the movie site in Iowa. From the photos and videos I’ve seen of the new field that MLB has created, my excitement is through the roof for this game — even if the Yankees are one of the teams playing in it.

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Today we will chat some more about that Field of Dreams Game, what the Knicks have been up to this offseason, Fernando Tatis Jr. and more.

Let’s get started.

📰 What you need to know

1. Other places MLB should have outdoor games ⚾

“If you build it, they will come.”

Major League Baseball’s long awaited Field of Dreams game is taking place tonight, inspired by the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. The movie features a man building a baseball field in a cornfield located in Dyersville, Iowa. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this and go watch it now.

The 8,000-seat ballpark that the Yankees and White Sox will be squaring of in tonight is adjacent to the site of the movie.

The league is doing this in hopes to grow the game, and it is not the first time they’ve planned games in non-traditional locations. Relatively recently, MLB games have been played in London; Tokyo; Monterrey, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; at a military base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series.

So of course, the question now is: in which non-traditional location should MLB next host a game?

Here are some options, courtesy of our MLB scribe Matt Snyder:

Dominican Republic: The D.R. is one of the best baseball-producing countries in the world and the fans would definitely show upRBI program games: Major League Baseball has a program called Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, an international campaign in over 200 cities around the world. It is dedicated to “increasing participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth.”Aruba/Curacao: This would provide for a great, tropical baseball atmosphere for an area that has produced many baseball players Hall of Fame game: The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is on Sunday afternoon and Sunday night would be a great time for the Hall of Fame game at the small stadium in Cooperstown, N.Y.‘The Sandlot’ game: Since we are taking movies, why not have a “Sandlot” game? They could recreate the set and have fun with everything around it 

Like I wrote above, I’ve been to the “Field of Dreams” location in Iowa. I actually lived in the state for a month (yes… I chose to live in Iowa). It was such a cool place and I’m beyond excited to see an actual game played there.

Speaking of excitement, the game will have feature interesting elements… like an apple pie hot dog made by Guy Fieri. Yum?

2. The Knicks actually had a good offseason 🏀
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How ’bout them Knicks? Knicks fans are used to being disappointed, but New York actually had a good offseason that will set them up for bigger moves in the near future.

Here are some of the moves they made:

Derrick Rose got three years and $43 million to return to the team
Nerlens Noel got a three-year deal worth $32 millionAlec Burks got a three-year deal worth $30 million
Evan Fournier. got a  four-year, $78 million dealThe Knicks spent over $54 million in cap space on the above four players on Day 1 of free agencySigned four-time All-Star Kemba Walker in a buyout from the Thunder for two years, $18 millionJulius Randle re-signed with the team with a four-year, $117 million extension

So, yeah, a lot happened.

The most recent of those above moves was for Walker. Yes, he has some injury concerns, but they got a good deal for the former All-Star so they didn’t take as big of a risk on him as some other teams have in the past.

But it’s not just the individual deals they made that will benefit the team, as our NBA scribe Jasmyn Wimbish writes.

It all seems to work together really well, which you know, is very crucial in a team sport. The length of the deals gives the team flexibility down the road and this whole “thinking ahead” thing is something we haven’t seen a ton from New York as of late. They took solid players, didn’t take too many risks and set themselves up to make deals with bigger stars down the road if they become available.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr., the outfielder? ⚾
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Fernando Tatis Jr. is trying something new. The Padres star is on the injured list after dislocating his shoulder again and has been shagging fly balls in the outfield to prepare to move away from shortstop. 

Yes, the Padres are looking to move him in order to help prevent another shoulder injury this season — even though the 22-year-old has only ever played shortstop in the major leagues.

Even in the minor leagues, he played second and third base, but mainly was focused on shortstop. 

Manager Jayce Tingler, (via The Athletic): “If potentially that is the best way to get him back to play this year, it’s something we’re serious about exploring and looking into.”

San Diego’s outfield has consisted of Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, and Wil Myers. Tatis joining the outfield would mean there’d be an odd man out.

This season Tatis has hit .292/.373/.651 (179 OPS+) with 31 home runs and 23 steals in 87 games. Wherever he goes, the team will benefit from him being back in the lineup just for his bat alone.

4. Baylor avoids NCAA punishment for sexual assault scandal
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The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions could not conclude that Baylor violated NCAA rules when the school did not report allegations of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus.

Instead, the investigation ended with the school being punished for other impermissible benefits and recruiting violations that took place in the football program between 2011-2016.

In their decision, the infractions panel said: “Baylor admitted to moral and ethical failings in its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus but argued those failings, however egregious, did not constitute violations of NCAA rules. Ultimately, and with tremendous reluctance, this panel agrees. To arrive at a different outcome would require the [committee] to ignore the rules the Association’s membership has adopted — rules under which the [committee] is required to adjudicate. Such an outcome would be antithetical to the integrity of the infractions process.”

The investigation found that a student-athlete on the football team committed an academic violation and was not reported for failing to meet the performance plan. Additionally, the university operated a predominantly female student host program that did not align with NCAA recruiting rules. Lastly, the committee found that Odell James, a former assistant director of football operations, violated ethical rules by not participating in the investigation.

The NCAA penalized Baylor for these violations with the following punishments:

Four years of probationA $5,000 fineA reduction to 30 football official visits during the 2021-22 academic yearA three-week ban on unofficial visits in football during the 2021-22 academic yearA two-week ban on football recruiting communication during the 2021-22 academic yearA reduction of football evaluation days by three during fall 2021 and by 10 during spring 2022A five-year show-cause order for the former assistant director of football operations. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not applyA vacation of all records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public release of the decision

📝 Odds & Ends

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📺 What to watch tonight

MLB Photos

Rays vs. Red Sox, 4:10 p.m.  | BOS -105 | TV: MLB.TV

Field of Dreams Game: Yankees vs. White Sox, 7:15 p.m. | CHW -160 | TV: MLB.TV

Blue Jays vs. Angels, 9:38 p.m. | LAA +120 | TV: MLB.TV

Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅

The Field of Dreams game is tonight and Kevin Costner has returned to Iowa to check out the scene. The preview of the field just got me even more excited to see the iconic movie site as the background of an actual game.


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