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.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.