Why players can't own a piece of the team

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Employee owenrship.gifI’ve always known that players can’t hold equity stakes in their teams due to the Basic Agreement (see paragraph 4(c) on p. 213 of this massive document), but I never knew why.

Today, however, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus explains. Once upon a time Rogers Hornsby got a cut of the Cardinals, was traded to the Giants, and quickly found his ownership stake to be a conflict of interest. And it got worst when he went to divest, as the Cardinals tried to lowball him, leading to everyone in the National League having to chip in to buy him off.  As a result of all of that, the rule was passed and has been incorporated into player contracts and/or the Basic Agreement ever since.

The only exception: players can take a stake in the team with special approval of the Commissioner.  Goldstein speculates whether or a team could give a chunk of the team to a player with language built in to deal with any Hornsby-esque conflicts of interest and have it approved by Selig. He dismisses it almost immediately, however, which is probably sensible given that it’s not likely to ever happen.

The only thing I’d add is the notion of maybe offering a player a chunk of a team — or at least the option to buy a chunk of the team — that doesn’t vest until retirement.  I kind of doubt that would ever happen, though, because it would require something akin to financial transparency for baseball teams and they really, really hate that.

Report: Derek Jeter-Jeb Bush group is the last one standing to purchase the Marlins

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There are a couple of confusing and potentially conflicting reports swirling about the Miami Marlins sale right now.

When last we heard, there were two high-profile groups with reported interest. One run by Hall of Famer Derek Jeter and politician Jeb Bush. The other run by Hall of Famer Tom Glavine and . . . son of politician, Tagg Romney.

Today Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg reported that the Jeter-Bush group has “won the auction” for the team. Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported earlier in the day, however, that they haven’t “won” anything. They merely remain the last group standing and that they have submitted a “non-binding indication of interest,” which, as the name suggests, means very little formally. They’re still seeking funding sources. Ozanian reports that the Glavine-Romney team is out.

That’s all a bit confusing, but given how team sales tend to go — slowly, with pretty established and plugged-in sports business types deliberately reporting the progress of negotiations — Ozanian’s report feels a bit more credible. Either way, I’d say it’s way, way too early to photoshop a Marlins cap on old pictures of Derek Jeter just yet

The first native Lithuanian in MLB history made his debut last night

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Why yes, it is a slow news day. But let’s not allow that to take away from some MLB history.

Last night a young man named Dovydas Neverauskas pitched in mopup duty for the Pirates, who were getting hammered by the Cubs. Mr. Neverauskas pitched two innings, allowing one run, making him, by default, the most effective pitcher the Pirates sent out there last night.

That’s good, but that’s not what makes it historic. What makes it historic is that Neverauskas is the first person born and raised in Lithuania to make the Majors. Here’s some back story on him from last year’s Futures Game.

Lithuania is known for producing basketball players. Now it has its first major leaguer. Whether he becomes baseball’s Arvydas Sabonis is an open question.