Will Jim Crane have trouble with Major League Baseball over old discrimination complaints?

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Richard Sandomir of the New York Times has a story this morning about the owner-in-waiting of the Houston Astros, Jim Crane, and a history of discrimination complaints with the EEOC against Crane’s company, Eagle Global Logistics:

Eagle, run by a former college pitcher named Jim Crane, had failed to promote blacks, Hispanics and women into managerial positions, the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found. Eagle had also demoted women from managerial positions, maintained a hostile workplace, paid blacks, Hispanics and women less than male and white counterparts, and shredded important documents, the agency said.

There was a large fine — $8.5 million — leveled by the EEOC after Eagle agreed to a consent decree, but the fine was subsequently walked back in major fashion when it was found that only about 10% of the specific claims were worthy of compensation. Which doesn’t mean that discrimination didn’t occur, mind you, though it could mean that. The key here is that these aren’t findings in litigation. They’re administrative in nature and the burden of proof is much lower than in a lawsuit.  These things can be messy.

Sandomir presents all of this by way of wondering if the discrimination complaints may cause bumps in the road to Crane’s ownership approval by Major League Baseball.

It seems like a major stretch to think it would.  Crane has been known to Major League Baseball for some time — he tried to buy the Astros once before and was close to getting the Rangers last year — so if MLB found him odious for some reason, they would have said something already.  Sandomir claims that someone did say something off the record about it all at one point, but that was denied by MLB’s Rob Manfred.

I have no idea about the merits of the actual discrimination claims, but I think this is much ado about nothing as far as Crane’s approval in the ownership group goes.  Drayton McLane is a good buddy of Bud Selig’s. If Selig felt like there was going to be any kind of a problem here, he would have let McLane know about it a long time ago so as not to put him in a tough spot.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉