Marc Stein of ESPN Dallas reported yesterday that MLB rejected the Rangers’ request to have Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki throw out the ceremonial first pitch once the World Series moves to Texas.
That led to a lot of angry fans, particularly since MLB’s attempted explanation didn’t really make much sense, and now they’ve changed their mind. Stein reports that MLB has invited Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 on Saturday.
MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney told Stein that commissioner Bud Selig was not involved in the original denial of the Rangers’ request and “ordered the reversal” once he found out. Nowitzki had already taken to Twitter to comment on the rejection, writing that “MLB is too old school” and “I will still be there to support our boys.”
All of which makes MLB’s original decision and initial attempts to explain the rejection all the more confusing, but better late than never I suppose. Sources told Stein that MLB was hesitant to let an NBA player throw out the first pitch because they’re supporting the NBA in the ongoing lockout, but Courtney denied that. Of course, he also said that Nowitzki lacked the “good broad-base national appeal” to be a first-pitch candidate, so who knows.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.