If the Yankees traded Derek Jeter to the Mets for two minor leaguers, about half of this media room would be running around like crazy. About 15 minutes ago, the entire media room started running around like crazy. Why? Because one of their own is getting dealt, and it’s a big big name:
Baseball Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons has decided to pursue
new endeavors and will no longer be a contributor to ESPN after this
week’s winter meetings.
Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production:
“As a print journalist moving to television, Peter was a pioneer who
became a Hall of Famer. His contributions to ESPN will never be
forgotten. We’re sad to see Peter go, but understand his desire for
new challenges and a less demanding schedule.”
The initial reaction among the media throng is shock. He and other ESPN people were swarmed as soon as it started filtering through. They are just as surprised as anyone. And confused: some have said that maybe he doesn’t want to be out chasing the story anymore, which hews to the corporate statement. Others, however, have said that he lives for this stuff and wouldn’t be leaving merely for a lifestyle change. Gammons hasn’t deviated much from his formal statement in hallway conversations, but it’s a pretty big hallway, so it’s not like he’s going to dish dirt out there to people he doesn’t know.
No one, however — including ESPN folks — would rule out the possibility that corporate politics is playing a part. Dealing with the ESPN suits in Bristol can be a headache. And perhaps money was an issue. Gammons presumably makes a lot of money in a media world where ad revenue is shrinking. No one seriously believes that ESPN would make Gammons leave if he didn’t want to, but many are prepared to accept the possibility that either (a) they asked him to take less money; or (b) he’s just had it with the World Wide Leader in Sports.
Not that those things are mutually-exclusive.
UPDATE: Gammons is headed to MLB Network, with an official announcement expected tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see if he also finds a new writing job, assuming the TV deal doesn’t include some MLB.com work as well.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.