Jeff Francoeur explains why he gave Charlie Samuels $50,000

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As reported this morning, former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was arrested today, accused of gambling with mobbed-up bookies, stealing Mets’ equipment and memorabilia and committing fraud.  You know, typical New York stuff.

You may recall that last fall when this all hit the news Jeff Francoeur’s name popped up by virtue of him writing $50,000 in checks to Samuels. No one ever suggested that Francoeur did anything wrong — and really, how could they? Look at that face! — but it did raise eyebrows.

Francoeur is in New York today facing the Yankees, and explained it to Roger Rubin of the Daily News.

For starters, $15,000 of that was the end-of-year bonus given by Francoeur to Samuels, and intended to be distributed to the various cooks, massage therapists, clubhouse attendants and the like.  Which, while that seems like a lot, is a standard kind of thing. At least in form. I really don’t know if that’s a lot of money for end of year tips, but I bet it’s within the normal range for veterans.

As for the other $35,000, well, we’ll let Francoeur explain it:

“I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car … I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car.

That explains it all. Maybe someday they’ll get banks in New York City. But until that day, clubhouse managers who make $80K a year and who happen to have $35K in cash laying around are really the only option available for guys who want to by their parents a car.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.