With the All-Star Break finally arriving for the MLB to help break up the dog days of Summer and the grind of regular mid-season baseball, we’re here to check in on some of the biggest news around the league in recent weeks.
One of the biggest stories of the week, and truly of the season thus far, has been the Kansas City Royals’ vaccination status. While the Royals pushed for vaccination last year and seemed to be largely in support of it during the worst days of the pandemic, it has recently come out that 40% of their roster, including major players like Andrew Benitendi and Whit Merrifield, are currently unvaccinated. The impetus for the news on vaccination status dropping was the Royals series with the Toronto Blue Jays; due to Canada’s stricter vaccination rules, a significant portion of the Royals roster wasn’t able to travel to Canada for this series, and the team as a whole will be going into the All-Star break with the possibility of losing much of their recent momentum (having won 4 of their last 5 heading into the series with the Blue Jays). While the Royals aren’t looking to contend this year, this is just another blow to an already maligned team and one that other teams may now avoid trading with. Prior to the news on vaccination status, there were rumblings of players like Benitendi being shopped to various AL East teams (like the Yankees) but if they can’t be relied on to play in away games against the Blue Jays, that might now be a pipe dream for a Royals team looking to reload their war chest with young players and draft picks.
Mexico City Home Run Derby?
Further South on the North American continent, the MLB announced in June that Mexico City will be hosting the final stop on the FTX MLB Home Run Derby X Tour, at Campo Marte (the site of the 1968 Olympics). The Tour has been designed and promoted by the MLB in the hopes of increasing baseball fervor and fandom worldwide, with planned stops in England, South Korea, and Mexico. The events will be featuring the biggest organizations in baseball, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cubs taking part with a collection of young talent, retired stars, and important players from women’s softball. While the Mexican talent in the league isn’t quite comparable in numbers to some other countries (like the US or the Dominican Republic), standouts like Jose Urquidy and Julio Urias continue to make noise for their respective teams and are integral parts of contending rosters.
Finally, around the league, there are a couple of active win streaks heading into the All-Star Break, and some nice MLB parlays to cash, both of which may be surprising to any fans who have been clued into the MLB over the past few years. Both the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles have officially reached double digits on their current win streaks, with the Mariners hitting 11 straight and the Orioles reaching 10 straight (to break .500 90 games into the season, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since the mid-2010s). With the Mariners being a middle-of-the-pack team for over a decade now, and the Orioles not reaching 80 wins in a season since 2016, this could be a sign of things to come for two of the MLB’s most loyal, but frustratingly least successful organizations. Both teams are arguably right on schedule or even ahead of schedule for their rebuilds, and both are developing the young talent needed to thrive in a rapidly changing league.
With the trade deadline fast approaching and the All-Star Break (and all of the betting opportunities that it entails) set to begin in just a few days, the MLB is primed for another shake-up and major news for many of its teams and star players in the coming weeks.