Random thoughts on the Johnny Damon signing

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As you no doubt heard, Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers over the weekend. One year, $8 million.  Some random observations:

  • I don’t buy for a second that Detroit really had a two-year, $14 million offer out there, but their one-year, $7 million offer was widely reported. That was dangling when the White Sox dropped out of the bidding on Friday.  Query:  If you are offering someone $7 million and your only real competition gives up, why do you raise your offer by $1 million? I’m thinking of selling my 2004 Honda Accord.  I think I’ll call Mike Ilitch, tell him that no one else wants it, and then demand $50,000.
  • Seriously, though, Ilitch really, really saved Boras’ bacon here.  In the space of a couple of days we went from a situation in which Damon was facing the contractual abyss to one in which he can take a $2 million pay cut next year and still say that he made out better for 2010-2011 than he would have had he taken the last offer the Yankees made him and which everyone said he was a moron not to take. Sure, he’d probably rather be in New York than Detroit, but if you don’t think Boras will spin this as a Bobby Abreu kind of thing at the press conference later today you’re crazy;
  • Not that an even $6 million contract next year is a given. Comerica Park is much bigger than Yankee Stadium, which will expose Damon’s poor arm and will likely depress his power numbers.
  • The no-trade clause which was reportedly included in the deal is rich indeed.  The team most likely to trade for Damon in the middle of the season is the Yankees, who are taking a chance on Brett Gardner as an everyday player. The odds of Damon not waiving his NTC for them — or for any other contender on a coast — are so infinitesimally small that they’re not even worth calculating. I bet Boras asked that the NTC be included so that he could claim that, yes, Detroit was where Damon always wanted to be. Even if we know that’s not really true.
  • Curtis Granderson’s 2010 salary: $5.5 million. Damon’s: $8 million. Just sayin’!

Johnny Damon will help the Tigers. Of course he would have helped them even more at $7 million or less too, but since Mike Ilitch doesn’t seem to care a whole hell of a lot for that supply and demand thing, we’ll never really know.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.