The Dodgers selecting Texas high school right-hander Zach Lee with the 28th overall pick last night raised some eyebrows because he was considered one of the draft’s most “unsignable” prospects and they’re rumored to be cutting corners in the wake of owner Frank McCourt’s divorce.
ESPN ranks Lee as the country’s ninth-best prep quarterback and he’s headed for LSU, unless of course the Dodgers can convince him to put football aside. Lee is reportedly asking for as much as $5 million to sign, which is a big part of why he was available with the 28th pick in the first place.
If the Dodgers don’t sign Lee they’ll get a compensation pick in essentially the same spot next year, basically delaying any investment in the pick. Or maybe the Dodgers actually do intend to sign Lee, in which case they’ll have gotten a premium talent in a less-than-premium draft position. Assistant general manager Logan White runs the Dodgers’ draft and said the following about picking Lee:
I’m optimistic we’re going to make our best effort, definitely our best effort, to get out there and get this done. I would say I’m cautiously optimistic. As the summer plays out, you’ll see the effort will be made. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that we’re going to get him to sign. It’s really going to be Zach’s decision.
I understand the concern. I can only give you my word. I’ve always been straight up. I’ve always tried to take the best player. If I think the player is the 28th-best player in the country, we certainly pay him like the 28th player. But if I think his ability is a little bit better than that, we certainly recognize that.
Frank [McCourt] has always been very aware of what we’re doing and what’s going on. He’s very much a big supporter and very on board with it. I don’t mean it bragging, but when you look at our major-league team and what we’ve been able to do with the draft and the international signs, you see why he’s a supporter.
White and the Dodgers will (probably) be trying to keep Lee away from LSU, but this afternoon they drafted LSU outfielder Leon Landry with the 109th overall pick.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.
At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.
We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.
Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.
It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.
Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.
This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”
There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.
The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.
I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.
But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.