Jim Reeves of ESPN Dallas would like to let you know how important his Hall of Fame vote is:
Judge and jury? Moral compasses? Gatekeepers? Yeah, maybe so, because that’s the responsibility we accept when we qualify to become a Hall of Fame voter. Because of the steroids issue, it’s a responsibility that has become so charged with controversy, I have even considered rejecting that honor and asking that my name be taken off the rolls as an active voter. It was a difficult and often agonizing challenge before the steroids era descended upon us. You can only imagine what it’s like now.
But I haven’t quit as a voter—not yet, anyway—because I consider it a sacred responsibility to the great players of the past to keep their exclusive club as clean and pure as possible. And yes, I say that with full knowledge that there are already a few in there with questionable credentials and backgrounds. All I can do is the best that I can. I owe that to late greats such as Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig, Eddie Matthews and Roberto Clemente. I owe it to Nolan Ryan and Fergie Jenkins, to Alomar and Blyleven.
That would be the same Fergie Jenkins who got busted for trying to get cocaine, hashish, and marijuana through Canadian customs in 1980, so like, whatever.
I guess I’d rather have someone with a Hall of Fame vote err on the side of taking it a bit too seriously than to believe that it’s a joke or a goof. But come on. “Sacred responsibility?” “Clean and pure?” You know that you’re dealing with mission creep of the first order when that kind of rhetoric is being tossed around about baseball.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.