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.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.