The New York Times continues its assault on Scott Boras

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Earlier today Keith Law posted his analysis of the relevant MLBPA rules regarding agents making loans to players and found nothing that would appear to make the loan Scott Boras made to Braves’ prospect Edward Salcedo improper.  This followed Scott Boras’ explanation of the loan and rather convincing (in my view) denial that anything improper took place. This also followed a week during which I hashed out the issue and, like Law and Boras, struggled to find any problem with the loan whatsoever.  Case closed?

Hardly. In Tuesday’s New York Times — published to the web this evening — Michael S. Schmidt writes about the “scandal” as if no one has questioned his initial report. Indeed, he writes it as if he has conducted no additional research into the matter at all. The story: last week Major League Baseball sent a letter to the union asking it to determine if Boras broke any rules.  There is no mention of what possible rules were broken. There is no new information other than the fact the letter was sent seven days ago. A letter which we all knew would be sent last week when, in Schmidt’s original story, anonymous Major League Baseball officials voiced concern. The letter is just another means of concern-voicing.

But there is plenty of additional hand-wringing. There is the obligatory “these allegations come at a time,” sentence, which is a time-tested way to cast something in a negative light when there are no actual connections between the complained-of activity and some perceived evil.  There’s the obligatory “the loans raised questions” sentence, when in fact, no one who has yet identified themselves by name has raised a question, let alone identified a violation of any rule or ethical norm. Seriously: someone name a rule Boras has violated. MLB-source guy: name the rule. Schmidt: report what rules you think were violated. Because thus far, there’s nothing.

I carry no brief for Scott Boras, but this is starting to look like a witch hunt. This latest story completely ignores Law’s analysis of the rules in question.  It puts out a single piece of information — the letter — that is a week old and essentially meaningless.  It quotes numerous agents who happen to compete for business with Scott Boras and whose interest would be served by having his reputation damaged, all waxing disapprovingly of the loan and saying how they themselves would never do such a thing.  Of course, none of them suggest that the loan was improper either.

I found Schmidt’s initial report on the Boras-Salcedo loan to be interesting but slight. In light of what we’ve learned about the loans in the past week, however, I am more firmly convinced than I ever have been that there is no story here at all.  Or rather, not the story that the Times is struggling to tell. Rather, this is a story about an all-out assault on Scott Boras.  And unless someone can point to a single rule that was broken, it’s one that needs to cease now.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.

Video: Aaron Judge sends a baseball into the upper deck at Citi Field

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.

The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.