A strange tale from the pages of Baseball America. The basics:
- Dominican prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua signs a deal with the Diamondbacks for $17,000. The deal is conditional while a background check takes place;
- After pitching for the Dbacks developmental team for a spell under the conditional arrangement, the contract is rejected by Major League Baseball and Paniaqua is suspended because of fraudulent paperwork regarding his age and identity;
- While he’s in paperwork/suspension limbo, Paniaqua fills out and adds 5-6 m.p.h. to his fastball;
- Because of the voided deal, he becomes a free agent after his paperwork is cleared up, the Yankees sign him for $1.1 million.
Click through and read the story to see how this all came about. From where I’m sitting, the Diamondbacks kind of got boned by virtue of there being no mechanism by which they could retain the rights to a guy they may very well have wanted to keep once the paperwork was sorted out. After all, it was Major League Baseball — and not the Dbacks — who decided that Paniaqua was a free agent. And that worked to the Yankees’ benefit. As if they needed the benefit.
A new rule has been proposed to deal with this that gives the club in the Dbacks’ position a right of first refusal if it happens again. Of course, that won’t help Arizona cope any better if and when Paniaqua becomes a stud for the Yankees.
Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.
Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.
Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.
I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.
I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:
I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.