The Amazing Kreskin thinks he can fix the Pirates

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Little known fact: The Amazing Kreskin was the only guy who knew about Russell and Huntington’s contract extensions last winter! He also wants a job with the Pirates:

The hapless Pittsburgh Pirates have sunk so low in the standings that
The Amazing Kreskin is offering his services to bail them out — for an
undisclosed fee.

The mentalist, best known for his spots on late-night TV shows and a
good run of picking winners of Super Bowls, Academy Awards and
elections, thinks the Buccos not only will make this their 18th
consecutive losing season, but will continue to stay below .500 for
another two years.

And with trenchant insight like that you can see why this guy makes a living on his predictions.  What should the Buccos do, Mr. Amazing?

If retained, Kreskin promises to exile Pirates general manager Neal
Huntington and manager John Russell until their recently revealed
contract extensions expire in 2011, deals he believes sent the wrong
message of “failure and lack of team success” to a squad showcasing the
worst hitting and the second-worst pitching stats in Major League
Baseball . . . Kreskin believes that once the undynamic duo departs, he could use
the power of suggestion to fix the players’ collective funk.

Sounds good to me.  Notably, though, he doesn’t suggest that they be fired. He just thinks they should be sent out of the country somewhere until their contracts are up. He suggests Tibet and Uruguay.

On one level that’s crazy. Of course as of last night the Diamondbacks will be paying Josh Byrnes big money for the next five years to do nothing, so is it really all that crazy?

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.