The Continental League

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What if there was a competing major league, set up by an undisputed
genius, located in major cities, broadcast on pay cable and set up so
that everyone shared revenue and TV money so as not to give one team a
Yankees-like financial advantage? Neat idea? Well, they already had that idea and it didn’t work out as planned:

Monday is the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Continental
League, and it is understandable if the moment does not trigger a flood
of happy associations or, for that matter, any memories at all.

The Continental was to be Major League Baseball’s third league: an
eight-team circuit that would, in the view of its architect, spread the
game across the land, ensuring its position as America’s pre-eminent
spectator sport. That the vision for the league came from Branch
Rickey, the sport’s éminence grise, gave it instant and national
legitimacy, so much so that on the day it was officially announced,
July 27, 1959, reporters flooded the Biltmore Hotel to chronicle the
event.

Fascinating article that presages a book on the Continental League by
its author, Michael Shapiro. Definitely check it out if you have a
moment or two.

Rougned Odor received two horses as part of his contract extension with Rangers

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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:

Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.

Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.

Mariners sign Mark Lowe

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The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.

Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.

Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.