Bill Spooner

Mind your ump-bashing this year. Unless you wanna get sued.


This doesn’t come from the world of baseball, but it’s a cautionary tale for any of us who, after a couple of refreshments, take to Twitter while simultaneously watching baseball games and would dare criticize the men in blue:

A Tweet by The Associated Press’ beat writer for the National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Timberwolvesthat was critical of an official could prove costly, as reports that NBA referee Bill Spooner filed suit against Jon Krawczynski for alleging that Spooner promised the Timberwolves a makeup call during a Jan. 24 game against the Houston Rockets.

Given that (a) NBA officials obviously give makeup calls all the time; and (b) the reputation of NBA referees in this post Tim Donaghy world is so poor, I question whether the ref has a leg to stand on. But that’s a matter for the courts now, I guess. And for the witnesses who Krawczynski will likely be able to find from that press table who will corroborate his story.  And probably for the NBA and the NBA referee’s union, who couldn’t have possibly signed off on one of its officials actually suing a member of the media over something silly like this, could they have?

All I know is that if this creates any kind of precedent, I should go back and erase the tweets I made following Buster Posey being called safe on that steal attempt during Game 1 of the NLDS, because I’m sure I said things way more defamatory than the stuff Krawczynski said. I think I got into Paul Emmel’s parentage, intelligence, hobbies and/or amorous tendencies, and that was before Posey even got done brushing the dirt off his pants. His totally-out-by-a-mile-yet-was-still-allowed-to-come-around-and-score-the-only-run-in-the-game pants.

I’m guessing we’ve all had such moments.  The only solution: tweet only about the dead, who can’t sue for defamation. That’s what I’m going to do anyway. Next time I see a bad call, I’m going to curse a blue streak about Eric Gregg’s strike zone in the Livan Hernandez game in the 1997 playoffs. Yes, it’s transference, but it should keep me out of court.

UPDATE: Nope, the NBA didn’t sign off on the lawsuit. And if you read between the lines, you get the sense that they aren’t at all pleased that it was filed.

MLB cancels its Dominican showcase after players protest an international draft

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America Reports that Major League Baseball has cancelled its Dominican national showcase, which was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Why? Because, Badler reports, trainers and players in the Dominican Republic planned to  skip the showcase in protest over Major League Baseball’s push to implement an international draft.

The kicker: Major League Baseball explored bringing in lesser prospects to serve as replacement players for the showcase. MLB, you might recall, has a poor track record of getting replacement workers to fill in for picketing players.

As Badler noted recently, the international draft proposed by Major League Baseball is, despite whatever MLB says, all about paying international players less money. From the Players Union’s perspective, it’s all about selling out amateur players to the supposed benefit of current union members. The allegedly altruistic justifications for the draft simply don’t hold water.

They certainly don’t fool the Dominican players who, even if they are ultimately powerless to stop MLB from stripping them of their bargaining power, will not give it up quietly.

World Series Reset: Cubs vs. Indians Game 2

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 24:  Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians throws during Media Day workouts for the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 2
The Time: 7:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Trevor Bauer (Indians)

The Upshot:

We get going an hour earlier tonight due to the threat of rain. As of now, that still looks like it will be the difference between getting this one in or not, as the chance of rain looks to be a lot higher after a 7pm game would reasonably end:


Still, it’s going to be dicey and the conditions will be less than ideal. It will be especially less-than-idea for Cleveland if the game is delayed early and they have to go to their bullpen earlier than expected tonight. Andrew Miller escaped some jams last night and did his job, but he used a lot of pitches to do it — 46 — and may be pretty limited tonight, if he’s available at all. That puts a lot on Trevor Bauer’s shoulders. Or, actually, his fingers, including the pinky finger on his pitching hand which is full of stitches. Those stitches not holding cost him his ALCS start. Terry Francona is hoping to get a lot more out of his starter tonight. Given how little he has pitched in the playoffs he should have the energy as long as his finger holds up.

As for the Cubs, teams that have lost Game 1 of the World Series are 40-70 and, in recent years, have a worse winning percentage than that, losing it all in 12 of the past 13 years. Eh, not too impressed with that stat as it doesn’t actually deal with the series at hand. At hand, the Cubs have superior starters set to go in each of the next two games, starting tonight with Jake Arrieta. He’s not been fantastic in the playoffs this year, but he’s capable of dominating a game any time out.

The Cubs figure to have a better night at the plate now that Corey Kluber is out of the way. Particularly a lefty like Anthony Rizzo, who is probably happy to see Bauer. Jason Heyward will likely be back in the lineup as well. They had better have a better night. Being down 1-0 is not a death sentence in the World Series, even if it has looked like one recently. Being down 2-0 is not something Chicago wants to chance.