Boycott Arizona

A renewed call for baseball to move the All-Star Game away from Arizona

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There was a great deal of controversy over the 2011 All-Star Game being in Phoenix in the wake of Arizona passing its controversial immigration bill last year.  That more or less died down as an issue as far as baseball was concerned after the federal government sued Arizona over the law, suspending its implementation until the matter is resolved. Selig said that was good enough and everyone moved on to other things.

Dave Zirin revives the call for a baseball boycott of Arizona in a column in The Nation today, but he’s not just focused on S.B. 1070. Rather, he believes that All-Star Game should be moved because of it, the Giffords shooting, Governor Jan Brewer’s general mendacity and another new piece of proposed legislation — not passed yet — targeting school children who are illegal immigrants.  Overall, Zirin wants baseball to move the All-Star Game because because Arizona is “dangerous and bigoted” and is  “a state with aspirations of apartheid.”

I’ll say this much: the politics and general zeitgeist of Arizona make me happy I live in Ohio, and it takes an awful lot to make me happy I live in Ohio. That said, I think Zirin and others who are advocating for the All-Star Game to be moved are fighting a lost cause.

Bud Selig is the last man on the planet who would take a stand on anything. Especially a stand that would cost him or his fellow owners money, as moving the game at this late a date would do.  There are contracts in place. Stuff has been printed. The room has been rented, if you will. Bud Selig would play that game in Arizona if God Almighty came down from the heavens and commanded him to move it.  Bud would probably say something like “well, I understand and appreciate His objections, but I’ve been around long enough to know that there are two sides to every issue, so I …” and then he’d just ramble on a while more.

So Selig is a dead end. What would be more effective in my mind would be to reach out to the ballplayers likely to be selected to the game and try to persuade them to sit it out. As Zirin notes, there were already multiple players who said last summer they’d be loathe to participate in an Arizona All-Star Game as a result of S.B. 1070.  Rather than picket the ballparks and demand that Selig do something, why not try to persuade them and others to take a public stand?

That game is going to be played no matter what. If the protests leading up to the game are to prevent it, they’ll be increasingly ignored as the game’s inevitability grows.  But, if some big names noisily beg out, it will be much harder for people to ignore. The media will have to write and report about their absence.  People will talk about it and the reasons for it. And ultimately, isn’t that the point?

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.