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Why Twitter rocks for sports coverage

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Twitter went a little haywire last night, just as there were nine or ten ballgames in progress.  The fact that it absolutely drove me and a bunch of other people nuts was kind of surprising to me.  I’ve been on Twitter less than two years. Surely I can enjoy an evening of baseball without hearing what a few hundred other people are saying about it in real time, right?

Well, sure I can. I survived last night.  But it wasn’t easy, and it brought home just how integrated Twitter, blogs, real-time box scores and all of that are to my baseball watching and writing life.  And, as more people plug in, it will become a part of their lives too.

Jason Fry has a great post up about that today, and about how sports lend themselves so comfortably and fully to social media and the Internet in general.  In making his argument, he touches somewhat on a lot of the things I’ve been saying for a few months now about how the next-day story of a game and the weekly or semi-weekly column explaining What’s Goin On In Sports is becoming obsolete.  Indeed, Jason notes that that stuff is increasingly unnecessary and probably inorganic to the nature of sports to begin with:

Sports is news, but most of it isn’t news the way a plane crash or a scientific discovery is news. I know the Mets are playing the Marlins tonight and one of the two teams will win, even though I have no idea which team it will be. Previously, accounts of games generally emerged only when all was said and done: We got a game story or a highlights package. But this isn’t how we watch sports – we do that in real time, constructing narratives as we go. Each twist and turn is good or bad, and we like to guess at how things will turn out, note potential turning points, and gloat, celebrate, commiserate or argue along the way. Twitter is a perfect fit for this: Now, beat writers can note significant plays, provide historical context, analyze decisions and so on long before their gamers are filed, and fans can talk to them and to each other as the game winds its way to a conclusion.

There’s much more to it, so click through.  And if you’re interested in these topics, bookmark Jason’s page.  He has gold like this quite frequently.

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.