pap argues getty

Jonathan Papelbon could be facing suspension for ump bump

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It’s reasonable to wonder whether Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon is going to face a fine or suspension (or both) for getting in the face of home plate umpire Tony Randazzo during Saturday’s 9-8 extra-innings victory over the Athletics.

Papelbon charged at Randazzo and appeared to make slight contact with his chest protector after getting the heave-ho for questioning the strike zone with a stare down. It was the ninth inning, and Papelbon had just allowed Oakland to tie the game at 7-7. MLB.com has the video here.

Papelbon spent a couple of minutes on the topic with reporters after Saturday’s game. It doesn’t sound like he’s expecting a suspension.

“From my perspective,” Papelbon said, “I had my back turned and did not turn around. He’s got his hands up, and I’m not even talking to him. I was talking to Salty (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia). I said, ‘Salty, ‘Hey come out here. I need to know where that’s at. I felt like some pitches I was not getting were strikes and I threw one that I felt like was a ball and then he called it a strike, and I more or less was trying to get Salty out here and say, ‘Hey come talk to me, let’s figure out this zone so I know how to go about this.’ Because I had no idea what his zone was. … It’s not like I pushed him or anything. … The league’s going to come down on me the way they want to, whether they believe me or not, but I wasn’t trying to maliciously bump him or anything. I haven’t looked at the replay or anything.”

The MLB commissioner’s office was all quiet on Sunday, but a ruling could be made early this week. Nationals infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. made a similar kind of contact with a home plate umpire during the last week of May and received a one-game suspension. Papelbon is likely facing something similar.

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.