Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics

Terry Francona nails the central problem with the All-Star Game


The beauty of job security: you can tell the truth from time to time.  Here’s Terry Francona, pretty much hitting the nail on the head:

“Maybe the significance of this game has run its course … I know what they were trying to do with the game, and I think they accomplished it, but maybe it’s run its course. There’s maybe better ways to figure out home field … I just think the way they’re playing the game, with the fan voting, they want interviews in the dugout, they want a lot of things to make it not like a regular season game, and then at the end you end up treating it like the most important regular-season game of the year … It’s just not real consistent, and there is a lot riding on it.”


The incentives are the issue here. What will make players actually show up and play hard, what will make managers manage like it’s a real game and what will make fans actually want to watch?  You likely can’t make it perfect — it will never match game 162 between two teams tied for the final playoff spot — but there has to be a way to change the incentives, because the current ones don’t work.

Cable and the Internet have killed the original incentive — showing us players we rarely get to see — because we see everyone all the time now.  Home field advantage in the World Series hasn’t caused anyone to treat the game differently.  The All-Star Game is operating on eighty years worth of inertia at the moment, and eventually, inertia runs out.

I know the game isn’t going anywhere. And I know that, as long as Bud is in charge, we’re not going to see too many changes, because he loves the home field advantage thing.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t think about it some.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

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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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.