February 26, 2022

Red Sox Release Minor Leaguer After He Posts Racist, Homophobic, Anti-Semitic Tweets

The Red Sox released minor leaguer Brett Netzer after he confirmed he had posted a series of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic tweets on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Netzer last played (though not very well) in 2019 for Portland (AA). The 2020 minor league season was canceled and Netzer spent the 2021 entire season on the restricted list.

Netzer started off last night claiming it's unnatural for human beings to have dogs and cats as pets ("more time should be spent on pursuing truth"). I suppose that's an interesting take, though it's in stark contrast to about 30,000 years of history.

After that, triggered by ???, Netzer (who identifies as a racist) shifted to a few pointed comments about Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom – and Jews in general . . . and transgender people . . . and blacks.

Someone noted that Netzer posted "posting screenshots of his tweets [on Instagram] saying 'release me'". The Red Sox obliged him . . . but he didn't seem very thankful.

An epigraph on his Twitter page reads: "Difference of opinion is where education is found." The irony is presumably unintentional.

February 11, 2022

The Universal DH Is Here

MLB and the Players Union have apparently agreed on the use of a Designated Hitter for both leagues, beginning in 2022.

And with that, I am pushed another step further away from a sport I have loved watching, reading about, researching and writing about for more than 45 years.

(But now that a real hitter will bat instead of pitchers who simply take three strikes and sit down, won't games drag on for even longer now?)

Not that anyone is asking, but my choice would be for no DH anywhere. I assume I'm in the minority on that point. Yes, yes, pitchers are more or less automatic outs (they batted .110/.150/.142 in 2021) and the idea of having another hitter bat for the pitcher (or having lineups of only eight men) is not new; it was bandied about as far back as 1891. I don't fucking care.

The necessity of having a pitcher throw four intentional balls should be part of the game for many reasons, one of which is the rare occurrence of when one of those soft tosses pitches sails to the backstop or gets smacked for a hit to the opposite field. Pitchers not named Shohei Ohtani collected 92 extra-base hits last season. Besides, the rules (both old and current versions) state that a game features two teams of nine players. A DH makes that 10 players per side.

Craig Calcaterra notes (in addition to logging Rob Manfred's numerous bald-faced lies in the past day or so) that the "Both sides wanted a DH" explanation being touted by writers like Buster Olney

is misleading to the point of abject disingenuousness. It was a case of the owners wanting to take the single most valuable bargaining chip away from the players [a multi-billion dollar concession of expanded playoffs] — one that they were clearly planning to use as a means of getting substantive concessions from the owners on other, far more important matters — in exchange for something that, while possibly desirable, was relatively worthless.

That's a statement of fact many people are making in reply to Olney's tweet. And Olney must know this, of course, because he is not a moron. So you have to ask yourself (as you have to do when seasoned journalists who have covered national politics for decades make disingenuous statements about either political party), why is he choosing to misinterpret the facts in that particular way? What is the reason? Because if the writer knows better, there must be a reason.

Manfred said the possibility of missing regular-season games (because of his decision to lock out the players) would be "a disastrous outcome". How many writers will point out that it was MLB's choice to lockout the players. It did not have to. MLB could have held the exact same bargaining sessions with the Players Union without instituting a lockout — and without putting the scheduled start of spring training and the regular season in jeopardy. All of the blame for any postponed games will rest on Manfred's weak shoulders.

In yet another Manfred-Trump comparison, one would think someone who lies constantly would eventually get good at it. But it turns out, when it comes to those two asshats, that is not the case.

February 9, 2022

Trevor Bauer Will Not Face Criminal Charges For Sexual Assault (Despite His Lawyers Admitting He Committed Sexual Assault)

Prosecutors in Los Angeles have decided not to bring criminal charges for sexual assault against Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer. (I posted about this case back in July and August 2021.)

In a statement provided to The Athletic, the Los Angeles County district attorney stated:

After a thorough review of the available evidence, including the civil restraining order proceedings, witness statements and the physical evidence, the People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Craig Calcaterra calls that decision "stupid and wrong", but he is not surprised. It's not that evidence against Bauer does not exist  Bauer's own lawyers admitted their client committed sexual assault while his victim was unconscious  but comments from the judge [California Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman] overseeing the case make getting a conviction more difficult than it would normally be.

As Calcaterra wrote in today's Cup of Coffee (my emphasis):

As you'll recall, at the restraining order hearing, Bauer's accuser testified under oath that Bauer struck her and sodomized her while she was unconscious. She testified that she did not consent to that. Indeed, being punched and sodomized while unconscious was never even discussed. Bauer presented no evidence to contradict that. What's more, in arguments, his lawyers admitted that that's what happened. They claimed however, with no evidentiary backing and in the face of her testimony to the contrary, that she asked for it. Like, they actually said that. That she wanted to be punched and sodomized while she unconscious. Again, these were arguments. There was no evidence presented to support such claims.

As I noted at the time, I know of no legal theory whatsoever that allows for someone to punch and sodomize an unconscious person. The judge, however, said that one can do anything one wants to an unconscious person as long as the unconscious person didn't explicitly say one could not do so beforehand. That sort of "opt-out" instead of "opt-in" consent is not the law and cannot be the law, especially when it involves an unconscious person because how can an unconscious person change their mind or say anything? When there was zero discussion about that head of time, the baseline HAS to be "you cannot punch or sodomize an unconscious person." It's preposterous to say otherwise. Unless, of course, you were the judge in the restraining order hearing.

Between that pronouncement from the bench — an unnecessary one given that the restraining order petition could've been denied without even talking about that stuff given that Bauer had had attempted no contact with the petitioner since the assault — and between several days of proceedings during which Bauer's attorneys slut-shamed the petitioner and portrayed her as a money-grubbing opportunist, it is not at all surprising that prosecutors were loathe to bring charges. Sexual assault cases are extraordinarily difficult to bring in the best of circumstances. Bringing them against the backdrop of what has already occurred in this case would be exponentially harder. Given that high-profile cases invoke political considerations for prosecutors — losing them is bad for them — not bringing a case against Bauer was always the more likely outcome, even though it seems pretty damn clear to me he committed sexual assault. . . .

Bauer's accuser swore under oath in documents and then testified under oath in open court to the following:

Bauer choked her until she was unconscious;

She did not consent to being beaten or sodomized before she was rendered unconscious (note: as a matter of law, and contrary to the non-germane comments of the judge from the bench last August, an unconscious person cannot legally consent to anything and a conscious person cannot consent to having serious bodily harm inflicted upon them); and

Bauer beat and sodomized her while she was unconscious.

Bauer presented no evidence to contradict those assertions. Indeed, Bauer took the Fifth and Bauer's attorney conceded in argument during the hearing that Bauer choked his accuser until she was unconscious and was violent towards her while she was unconscious. To the extent Bauer's attorneys impeached the accuser's credibility, it pertained to matters surrounding her petition for a restraining order, primarily in connection with calls and texts between the two of them after the incidents at issue. There was no apparent impeachment of her credibility as it related to what occurred between the two of them at Bauer's home.

Major League Baseball's investigation into Bauer's actions is ongoing. For MLB to issue a suspension under its Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, an arrest, criminal charges, or a criminal conviction is not necessary.

February 6, 2022

Happy 127th Birthday, Babe Ruth!

On this date in 1895, George Herman Ruth was born.

The dates of Babe Ruth's first and final major league home runs are May 6, 1915 and May 25, 1935.

Over that span of 20 years and 19 days, Ruth hit 714 official home runs.

Ruth out-homered two teams over that time period: the Red Sox (653) and Reds (672). Ruth nearly out-homered two additional teams: the White Sox (720) and Senators (724).

He also led both leagues in showing off his big bat to the ladies.

February 4, 2022

MLB Would Rather Concoct Lame PR Tricks Than Negotiate With Players

MLB quickly reneged on its promise (from only two days ago) to present a counteroffer to the Players Association. Instead, it requested federal mediation, which is nothing but a lame public relations stunt.

Giants pitcher Alex Wood asked: "How can MLB request for there to be a mediator from the Federal Government to help with negotiations when they literally haven't even done any negotiating up to this point?"

That seems like a reasonable question. After MLB imposed the lockout on December 2, 2021, it spent six weeks refusing to negotiate. Over the past three months, an unimpressive total of five hours has been spent discussing the issues. And now, rather than honor its promise to continue to negotiate, MLB is pretending it has done everything it can and  what other choice do we have?  must now call in a mediator.

Twins catcher Mitch Garver sees through the bullshit, calling it "a ploy . . . to show they are bargaining in good faith. . . . The league wants the public to think they are doing everything they can."

As Craig Calcaterra put it, MLB is acting "like a kid pouring a whole box of soap into the washing machine, watching bubbles go all over the house, and then yelling for his mom to help".

Ian Happ summed it up:

MLB Steps to Negotiating:
1. Commit to making a counter
2. Refuse to make that counter
3. Say they need a mediator

The Players Association rejected MLB's mediation stunt. Several players pointed out to MLB that in order to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, both sides must . . . umm . . . bargain.

February 1, 2022

Latest Bargaining Session Turns Into A "Yelling Match"; Start Of Spring Training Likely Delayed

Chris Halicke (Sports Illustrated) quotes a source with knowledge of Tuesday's collective bargaining session between Major League Baseball and the Players Association saying the 90-minute meeting devolved into a "yelling match".

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich (The Athletic) reported on Monday:

Anyone sensing momentum in baseball's collective bargaining negotiations needs to take a deep breath. League and player representatives continue to hold much different views of the game's economics. The scheduled start of spring training in mid-February is clearly in jeopardy. In another few weeks, Opening Day on March 31 would be a longshot, too.

As the owners' lockout drags into its third month, the essence of the problem is this: Major League Baseball contends it is proposing a better deal for players than the one they had under the most recent collective bargaining agreement. And the Players Association contends that the deal is worse. . . .

A breakdown of the most contentious issues in the negotiations reveals just how far apart the two sides are . . .

Minimum salary . . . Arbitration and pre-arb bonus pools . . . Luxury tax . . . Draft lottery . . . Service-time manipulation . . .

The players want significant change, and the owners largely want to maintain the status quo. . . .

A new CBA is not close.

Drellich characterizes Tuesday's meeting as "heated" and writes "the sides remain very far apart with the normal report time for pitchers and catchers about two weeks away". 

Since the next bargaining session has not been scheduled, it is highly unlikely that spring training will begin on time later this month.

The MLBPA made a pair of proposals: one that modifies its pre-arbitration bonus pool, the other on service-time manipulation.

The union, which is trying to get more money to younger players not yet eligible for arbitration, changed its pre-arbitration bonus pool proposal to $100 million. That is a $5 million decrease from its original proposal. The league's most recent offer was $10 million.

Regarding service-time manipulation, the union has proposed a system where a player who might not normally get a year of service time would be credited with one year if they reach certain thresholds and levels of performance. . . .

The union also incorporated and modified an element of MLB's proposal on service-time manipulation, dangling a draft pick to teams as an incentive for not holding a player in the minor leaguers.