Jake Peavy grooved one to Barry Bonds

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Before we get to that, some followup from Mike Bacsik, who was accused by former teammate Tim Redding yesterday of grooving home run 756 to Barry Bonds. Bacsik tweets:

For everyone on my page that needs a denial; I didn’t try to give up the homerun. I was crappy enough to do it without trying . . . If somebody would
have asked me, what teammate will say you tried to give up a homerun?
After laughing my answer would have been Tim Redding.

I still don’t know or frankly really care of Bacsik served up a fat one to Bonds, but (a) I like his sense of humor; and (b) he’s not the first guy to slam Tim Redding for being something of a horse’s ass.

In other news — old news, anyway — Jake Peavy doesn’t need anyone to accuse him of grooving one to Barry Bonds. He admitted it freely a couple of years ago:

“Obviously,
everyone in the ballpark knew that was going to be Barry’s last
at-bat,” Peavy recalled. “Me and Barry being buddies, I wanted to take
care of him in his old ballpark. I wanted to give him as good a
send-off as he could have. That being said, I couldn’t throw cookies up
there all night because we had to win. But we were able to get a 9-2
lead, and I’m facing Barry knowing this was going to be his last at-bat.

“At that point, I knew we were going to win that game and he knew I
was going to give him a good pitch to hit. He didn’t have to guess what
was coming: a fastball. He took a good shot at it and just missed it.
We had a good little exchange there. We would’ve done that whether it
had been on the field or not. But he wanted the fans to be a part of us
paying our respect to each other.”

Mickey Mantle was grooved one near the end too.  And I’m not sure I have any problem with that kind of stuff. One of the things that
separates baseball from the lesser sports is that there is more room for
friendship and camaraderie, even on the actual field of play. The way I see it, if it’s only a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, and if it’s not affecting the outcome of a game, no harm, no
foul.  I appreciate that I may be in the minority on that, but that’s nothing new.

(thanks to lar for the Peavy link)

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.