Rob Neyer

Rob Neyer debuts at SB Nation

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So many eulogies for Rob Neyer’s career yesterday. And here he is today, with his first column up at his new gig over at SB Nation less than 24 hours later.  Faster than the speed of Internet!

The subject of his first column: writing, naturally. He kicks off with a fun anecdote about the time a colleague got bent out of shape over something Neyer said in the comments section of the other writer’s column:

Without meaning to, over the years I’d annoyed most of my other colleagues … and nearly all of them with reputations as incredibly nice guys. So I figured it must be me. I hastily e-mailed this particular colleague to apologize.

His response: “Rob, no problem at all. I just thought the comments section was for them, not for us.”

This isn’t the place to enumerate the differences, for most of my career anyway, between me and the great majority of baseball writers in the mainstream media. They did finally let me into the Baseball Writers Association of America a few years ago, which I appreciated, plus (did I mention this?) they really are a bunch of really nice guys. And I’m not making value judgments here.

One difference, though, is that I’ve never thought of myself as a member of us rather than them.

This hits home.  I’ve said a lot of things in this blog about other writers’ work but easily the angriest any other mainstream baseball writer has ever gotten at me came as a result of something I said — something rather innocuous actually — in the comments section of a blog.  Like Rob’s former colleague, I’m certain the other guy’s disdain had to do with the setting — down with the teeming masses — rather than the sentiment.

There’s something truly twisted about that. Something that I think is related to that stuff we were discussing recently about civility in comments sections.  Of course comments sections are going to get uncivil if you treat their inhabitants as if they’re unwashed hordes. In the Internet age, the line between fan and writer is a lot blurrier than it used to be. And that’s a good thing.

SB Nation has some professional writers and it also has a lot of amateur part timers.  Rob’s sensibility, as he clearly explains in his first column, is that it doesn’t matter who’s doing the writing. What matters is the message.  In light of that, Rob and SB Nation are a perfect fit.

Good luck, Rob.  Everyone else: adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.