Plaschke blames Manny's slump on steroid withdrawal

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The L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke has been carving Manny Ramirez up since his PED suspension back in May, so you know he was just waiting for the right time to bring this kind of noise:

Something is wrong with Manny Ramirez. Something different than a hitch. Something more than a slump. 
Something is wrong here, something that might be lodged as deeply in
the head as in the hips, something that perhaps batting practice can’t
fix . . .

. . . Although the official explanations for his slump involve those habits,
and are technical and convoluted, those familiar with steroids quietly
submit one simple reason:

Ramirez trying to kill the ball to overcompensate for the fact that
he’s no longer juiced, attempting to show everyone that his previous
success was him and not steroids.

There are those who also wonder whether he is struggling with the loss
of that invincible feeling that steroids give hitters, a syndrome
commonly associated with those who are struggling to find themselves
after coming clean.

“Those familiar” with steroids submit one question?  “There are those” who wonder?  How on Earth do Plaschke’s editors allow him to hide behind that stuff?  He’s the only one in this article asking that question and wondering those things. He quotes no one, anonymous or otherwise.  This is quite obviously Bill Plaschke and Bill Plaschke alone making such an accusation, yet he he’s not willing to simply say it without couching it as the accusations of others.

Why? Probably because he’s a writer who knows absolutely nothing about what causes or ends slumps, be they by ex-PED users or otherwise.  He wants to make Ramirez the goat of this Dodgers’ team, and he wants to continue to slam him for his PED use despite the fact that everyone else has moved on.  But hey, if he can marry a slump to the ‘roids, it’s a current story that accomplishes both of his goals.

Put differently, it’s hack work.  But then again, it’s Bill Plaschke, so what else did you expect?

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.