Reggie Jackson accuses Billy Martin of being a racist and anti-semite

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Reggie Jackson spoke with Bob Costas for a documentary that will air on the MLB Network on Monday and during that conversation he spoke of his former manager Billy Martin. He didn’t speak well of him:

“I did not accept the way he managed me. I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there. … I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample.”

Then in the Bergan Record he expanded on those thoughts:

“The most disturbing part of it all is that the writers that covered the team never made mention of it and were completely aware of it.”

Martin’s son defended his father, saying that Billy’s baseball decisions were made solely on baseball merit. Which, it probably should be noted, isn’t a defense to the charge that Martin issued epithets at people even if it does speak somewhat to the way Martin “managed” them in tactical baseball terms, to use Jackson’s phrase.

Martin has been dead for nearly 22 years, so he can neither defend himself nor could he have undergone the sort of change of heart about such matters many men of his era and temperament experienced in their calmer, more mature years that Martin didn’t get to experience. Add in Jackson’s historic hyperbole and rather egocentric view of the world and you get half of the story at best here.

That said, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Jackson were spot on here because, well, Martin was Martin and he grew up in the 30s and 40s and that explains a lot about a person.  It’s just something, though, that we really can’t and probably shouldn’t do much with at this point other than to fill out the rich, sordid biography of Billy Martin.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.