The Royals hire Willie Aikens

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The Royals hired a former player as a minor league coach yesterday. No biggie. Happens every day. Except this minor league coach is Willie Mays Aikens, who spent nearly 14 years in federal prison for selling crack in the mid 90s.

Aikens — who had a breakout performance in the 1980 World Series — has been working in construction and giving anti-drug talks in the Kansas City area since his release from prison in 2008.  Now he has a chance to finally get back into baseball.  Aikens made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he has paid for them. More than paid for them, actually, given that his original prison sentence was held — along with many others — to have been too long given the government’s unconstitutional treatment of crack cocaine offenders compared to powder cocaine offenders.

I last thought about Aikens when Ron Washington got in trouble for taking cocaine last year. At the time I wrote a longish post about cocaine in baseball. It’s a part of the game’s recent history relatively few people know about.  They should learn more (and here’s an excellent and entertaining book about it all if you want to learn more).  Unlike steroids or amphetamines in baseball, cocaine destroyed the lives of many players. Even ending at least one.  It was serious business that has largely been overlooked since the PED stuff took off.

Anyway: good luck Willie Aikens. I hope you and the Royals take full advantage of your second chance in the game.

Dodgers promote top prospect Cody Bellinger

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers have promoted 1B/OF prospect Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger, 21, is considered the Dodgers’ best prospect and No. 10 overall in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. At Triple-A Oklahoma City, Bellinger was hitting .343/.429/.627 with five home runs, 15 RBI, 15 runs scored, and seven stolen bases in 77 plate appearances.

The Dodgers are dealing with a slew of injuries to their outfielders — most recently losing Joc Pederson to a strained groin — so Bellinger is likely to get regular playing time there.

The Marlins are staying in a Delaware hotel because the NFL booked all of Philly’s hotels

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The Marlins are on the last leg of a nine-game road trip that started in Seattle, took them through San Diego, and now has them in Philadelphia. If the hectic travel schedule weren’t punishing enough, the NFL Draft has heaped some more difficulty onto the Marlins’ trip.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, because the NFL booked all of the hotels in Philadelphia ahead of the draft (which starts on Thursday and ends on Saturday), the Marlins have to stay at a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware.

At least the city of Wilmington is welcoming the Marlins with open arms: