The Pirates are jerking Sanchez, Wilson and their fans around

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On Friday
I relayed the news of the contract offers given by the Pirates to
Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. When I did, I said “I can’t recall an
instance of Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington playing games with players.”
Well, here’s an instance of it:

The Pirates yesterday pulled back their contract extension offers to
Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez and, though they remain open to new
negotiations, there was no indication any are forthcoming. “That time
has come and gone,” general manager Neal Huntington said of the offers’
lifespan. “They feel like we’re awfully light both in years and
dollars. In our minds, the conversations are at a standstill . . .
Typically, in a negotiation, you get a counter-offer. That’s how
conversations continue. We’ve not gotten that to this point.”

I love how Huntington is trying to make Wilson and Sanchez sound like
the bad guys here. But listen to Wilson: “Answer me this: How can we
respond with counter-offers when we were told that those were
take-it-or-leave-it offers? How do you counter that?” And then listen
to Huntington again:

“A year ago, I was an idiot for extending Freddy for $6 million. And
now, I’m an idiot for not being willing to give him a heck of a lot
more than that. In Jack’s case, he has played terrific defense for us,
maybe the best of his career. But this is the fourth of five years that
he’s been a below-average league bat for his position. So, we’ve got to
be realistic in our evaluations.”

Except that, according to the wire reports, he wasn’t offering “a heck of a lot more than that”:

Sanchez was offered $10 million over two seasons, a deal contingent
upon him shelving the $8.4 million he will be owed in 2010 if he makes
600 plate appearances this season. Wilson, the most tenured Pirates
player with nine seasons in uniform, was offered $8 million over two
years – or less than his club option of $8.4 million for next season
alone.

To sum up: Sanchez was given an option by Neal Huntington that rewarded
good consistent play, and he has delivered it. The new offer he was
given, however, takes that away and stands to pay him far less than he
can expect to get over the next two years regardless. Wilson is also
being asked to drop his option and take a pay cut, all while being
bad-mouthed by his boss. Neither of the offers ever stood a chance of
being accepted and Huntington had to know it.

Not that they’re necessarily terrible offers on some objective
level. In fact, they probably represent decent approximations of each
players’ value going forward. The problem, though, isn’t the offers
themselves. It’s the way in which they were communicated: publicly, and
in such a way as to put Sanchez and Wilson on the spot and to make them
sound like bad guys when they were rejected.

A GM in Huntington’s position sometimes has to make unpopular moves,
such as parting with popular players like Sanchez and Wilson. He should
have the guts to simply do so, however, rather than make a big phony
show of wanting to keep them in an effort to win the P.R. game.

Ichiro was happy to see Pete Rose get defensive about his hits record

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins warms-up during batting practice before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.

There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:

I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.

There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.

The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.