Lester Rodney 1911-2009

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Most of you probably never heard of Lester Rodney. And for good reason. His claim to fame was being the sports editor for The Daily Worker, the newspaper of American Communist Party from the 1930s to the 1950s.  I read scores of back issues of the Daily Worker for a class I took in college. It was a fairly awful newspaper before you even get to the politics of it all, but Rodney stood out. At least to me. The reason: he was beating the drum — loudly and unrelentingly — for the integration of baseball long before anyone had heard of Jackie Robinson.

Rodney died last week.  An obituary ran in the New York Times.  Today the Boston Globe has a more in-depth profile of his pro-integration writings, and it’s definitely worth a read.  Though I am a Marxist, I’m no communist. Indeed, I’m not a member of any party, really, because I don’t believe any one party has a monopoly on wisdom. But Rodney and the Daily Worker definitely had the subject of baseball’s color barrier right. And first. And he and it should be remembered for that.

Good goin’, comrade.  Rest in peace.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.