The Diamondbacks think about locking up Upton, Reynolds

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Justin Upton 2.jpgThe Diamondbacks are thinking long term:

Their arbitration-eligible players all taken care of thanks to the
Valentine’s Day signing of right-hander Edwin Jackson, the D-backs
front office will turn its attention to signing players with less than
three years of big league service. That typically involves one-year deals, but in the case of
third baseman Mark Reynolds and right fielder Justin Upton, it appears
the D-backs have at least begun to explore multiyear pacts.

We’ve heard this before regarding Reynolds. My take on him was, for his own sake, he should do his best to get a long-term deal while the gettin’s good. If I’m Arizona, however, I’m wary of going overboard, for the same reason that I’d want to sign a deal if I were Reynolds: his market is not going to be scintillating in the coming years. There will be teams that steer away from him due to his age, his strikeouts or both.  If Adam Dunn has to go year-to-year through his 30s, than Reynolds will have to as well.  So sure, if you’re Arizona you explore locking him up for the sake of certainty, but don’t go crazy.

Upton is a different story of course. To quote the Rotoworld annual that just arrived at my door (and which you should totally buy) you’d be hard-pressed to find a ballplayer with more promise than Upton. He’s young and progressing in ways that Hall-of-Fame caliber players have progressed in the past. Lock him up and throw away the key, I say.

But for how much? FanGraph’s Joe Pawlikowski ran some numbers today. His verdict: a five-year $58 million deal which balances the team and player risks and allows Upton to still hit free agency at age 28 when he can make top-shelf money.  If I’m the team I probably offer that right now.

If I’m Upton I may be wary to accept it, because if I take the next predictable step forward, I may very well shatter Ryan Howard’s record come arbitration time next year, which could set the stage for an even bigger deal. Of course, saying no to $58 million guaranteed dollars is a much easier thing to do when you’re just pretending to be Justin Upton. It might take a second’s more deliberation for the real Justin Upton.

Jackie Robinson: ” I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag”

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
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One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.

In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.

As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:

There I was, the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps, it was, but then again, perhaps, the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today, as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.

As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.

(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is a sports owner once again

File photo of Frank McCourt leaving Stanley Mosk Courthouse after testifying during his divorce trial in Los Angeles
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There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.

McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.

Such assumptions were inoperative:

The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.