Selig seeks slotting; international draft

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We’ve seen this coming for a couple of years now, but on the occasion of the 2011 draft, Bud Selig once again called for the hard slotting of draft picks and the extension of the draft to cover other countries:

“I believe in slotting and I believe in a worldwide draft. I think it’s important,” Selig said, pointing out that the draft began in 1965 as a way to improve competitive balance. “I think the draft has worked, but I think there are some things that have happened in the last five or six years that are worrisome.”

Worth noting that competitive balance is leaps and bounds better now than it was at the time the draft was implemented. And that, at present, people are writing articles all over the place about how much parity is in baseball. Then again, reality has never been a terribly tall hurdle for those engaging in public relations campaigns.

The NBA currently has a rookie pay scale and NFL owners would like to implement one as well. New players entering the NHL are subject to maximum salaries.

And based on how those leagues are going, the NBA and NFL should clearly be emulated when it comes to labor relations.

Selig said owners and general managers have voted in favor of a slotting system. Now, it’s a matter of getting players to agree.

Shocking: Selig has offered a proposal that will dramatically decrease players’ negotiation rights and wages and the other owners have agreed to it. Well, I guess we’re halfway there …

Look, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: I hate the slot — and actually, I’m not terribly keen on the draft — because I think that a person should be able to shop their labor as they see fit and a business should be allowed to decide what — or if — it wants to pay for said labor.  Of course that’s a philosophical point, not a practical point. We know the draft isn’t going anywhere even if kooks like me talk about it being unfair.

But there’s a practical point to be remembered as well: In 2009 — in his introductory press conference after taking over for Donald Feher — Union head Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap”.  The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. It always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win.

Maybe it’s different for the draft — players have often thrown draftees and minor leaguers under the bus when it comes to work rules — but I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term. For that reason, I think they people are underselling  just how hard the union might fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft. It may happen, but it will come at a higher price than the owners suspect, I think.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.