Earlier today I wrote that it was quite a sight to see the Yankees and Derek Jeter waging such a public war over contract negotiations. This is especially true given that — a mere two months ago — the league and the union came to an agreement under which both sides vowed to “Restrict the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.” Obviously this rule — to the extent it is a rule, and not merely some aspirational thing — isn’t scaring anyone. The question, then, is what can be done about this sort of thing?
The answer: nothing. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop this kind of stuff.
The reason for this — at least in the case of Jeter and the Yankees — is simple: Major League Baseball can’t punish the Yankees without the Yankees protesting that they are merely countering what Jeter’s agent is doing. They also cannot punish Jeter or his agent without having to go though the union, and I’m sure both Jeter and his agent can tell a plausible story about how their comments to the press were necessitated by something the Yankees did first. Ultimately both sides would claim that the other was acting unfairly, and thus policing a p.r. problem would dredge up an actual contract negotiation dispute that the new rules were designed to head off in the first place. Why would baseball kick that hornet’s nest? Why would the union? Why would anyone?
But really, I suspect that the media rules weren’t designed to address these public, on-the-record spats. I think they were designed to address Scott Boras’ “mystery teams” and those whispers about how teams “have questions about Player X’s health” that pop up all winter, unfairly killing — or unfairly making — the market for a free agent. What can be done about those?
Even less, I’m afraid. Quick: when was the last time a source was revealed? When was the last time someone got fired for leaking a team’s dirty laundry? We live in an age when people leak sensitive stuff related to the government and the military with impunity because technology makes it fantastically easy to do so. If the Department of Homeland Security, with all of its employees and computer experts can’t track down their own internal leakers, how can the Pirates’ front office do it with their half-dozen clerical workers? They can’t. And they won’t, because they have a baseball team to run. As do the Yankees. And Casey Close and Bud Selig and Mike Weiner all have other things to do too.
The stuff about no longer negotiating through the media was nice back when no one was negotiating anything. But now that they are, those ideals are rendered quaint.
Horrible news: Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash off of Miami Beach late last night.
No details have been released yet, apart from the fact that Fernandez was one of three people killed. The Marlins have issued a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, stating that the organization is devastated and that their thoughts and prayers were with Fernandez’s family. Today’s Marlins game against the Braves has been canceled.
Fernandez was only 24 years old. Though only in his fourth season in the majors, he was easily one of the best and most exciting pitchers in the game. In his four seasons he won 38 games and posted a fantastic ERA of 2.58 while striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. He was an electric presence on the mound and was poised to become one of baseball’s most highly-paid and entertaining superstars.
His baseball exploits seem trivial now, however. His loss at such a young age, tragic. Our thoughts today are with Fernandez’s family, the Marlins organization and those who knew and loved him.
Another day, another division title in the bag. The Nationals coasted to a 6-1 finish over the Pirates on Saturday evening; coupled with a Mets’ loss later that night, the NL East title was theirs for the third time since 2012.
The Nationals put up a three-spot in the first and fourth innings, scoring five of six runs on productive outs while Washington starter Joe Ross tossed 2 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in his second start off the disabled list. Prior to the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed reluctant to delegate a set number of pitches to the right-hander, opting instead to base Ross’s workload on his performance.
Washington’s bullpen carried the team the rest of the way, combining for 6 ⅓ scoreless frames to preserve their five-run lead. When Anthony Rendon snared a liner from Andrew McCutchen to end the game, all eyes turned to the clubhouse TVs:
Murphy had sufficient cause for worry: After trailing 10-0 through four innings, the Mets returned with an eight-run drive that culminated with Jay Bruce‘s solo shot in the ninth inning. Had Bruce hit the home run after Philadelphia closer Michael Mariot issued a pair of walks, and not before, the Mets would have edged out the Phillies, 11-10. Instead, their late-game rally ended on a fastball down the middle, and the Phillies’ 70th victory confirmed the Nats’ place atop the NL East.
While Max Scherzer donned his two-toned goggles and Bryce Harper braved the champagne showers in U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s swim cap, Baker was already thinking about Sunday’s start. Against the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, Baker announced his plans to start 24-year-old A.J. Cole, whose seven starts have yielded a 4.68 ERA and 0.2 fWAR in 32 ⅔ innings this year.
Cole hasn’t displayed the sharpest stuff in his sophomore season, touting a high 3.03 BB/9 and 1.93 HR/9, but with the division locked down and the Cubs in sole possession of home field advantage through the NLCS, the Nationals have bigger concerns as the playoffs draw near.