As is almost always the case following the draft and its attendant August signing deadline, the calls are going out for a hard slotting system in which draft picks are paid a set price based on where they’re taken. No haggling! Just like buying a Saturn!
While there may be some merit to the idea on an intellectual basis — Maury discusses some of the pros and cons here — almost every article I’ve seen on the matter ignores how difficult it will be to impose such a system. Why will it be difficult? Because contrary to the popular belief that the union would willingly toss non-member draftees over the side if they got something in return, the MLBPA has given every indication that they would fight draft slotting tooth and nail.
Case in point: union chief Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap”
last December. That’s the first time I can ever recall someone using that term in connection with the draft. It’s a term that, as you know, is a rallying cry for the union. They are opposed to such caps in all cases, and if they’re referring to the draft slotting as a “salary cap,” they will be philosophically obligated to oppose it. I don’t think the choice of words is an accident.
The owners know this,
and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose a general salary cap because they
know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win. Again. And let’s be clear here: the stakes are way lower on draft bonuses for the owners than regular player salaries are, with most teams paying bonuses of less than $10 million for their entire draft in a given year. Do you think owners would risk a work stoppage to save less money than Jose Guillen makes?
People are underestimating ust how hard the union is prepared to
fight on this point. I think it’s just something people are talking about now and that we’re highly unlikely to see slotting imposed anytime soon.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.