45th Annual CMA Awards  - Arrivals

Glenn Beck uses MLB’s video platfrom to spew his bile. So what?

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I’ve been trying to avoid this — and other outlets have been talking about it already, including my compadre Rick Chandler over at Off the Bench — but the PR guy from this group keeps emailing me about it so why the heck not.

The group in question is Americans United for Change* and the change for which they have united is to get Glenn Beck off whatever airwaves will still have him.

Major League Baseball has become one of their targets because the interactive arm of the league — MLB Advanced Media — provides the streaming video platform for Beck’s loopy webcasts.  The goal: to get the owners and GMs meeting in Milwaukee this week to dump Beck.  They’re running radio ads in Milwaukee this week and have a petition drive going, trying to get MLB to act.

I think Beck is one of the biggest clowns on the planet. That’s not even a partisan thing. If I was a hardcore conservative I’d find him awful because he does a terrible job of advocating legit conservative views.  That’s because he’s not terribly interested in them. He’s just an unhinged attention-seeking freakazoid who is laughable at best and downright toxic at worst, but does not seem to care as long as he can sell some books and snag a paycheck. He could be in favor of a cancer cure and he’d probably do a horribly counterproductive job of pushing his agenda.

But that’s America, right?  There are all kinds of people like Glenn Beck, even if they’re not as (decreasingly) popular. They send out their silly newsletters and show up on radio shows and reserve time on cable access television. And we don’t seek to have the postal service, Kinkos, WBUT radio and the Hooterville Municipal Cable Company boot them from their client lists.  They’re the medium, not the message, and as the saying goes, don’t kill the medium provider.  At least that’s how I think it goes.

I hate Glenn Beck but I love that Major League Baseball takes his money and uses it to make their stats page better. And to work on the research that one day may allow MLBAM to unlock the secret to letting people embed videos from last night’s game (one day soon, I know it!).  Their doing so doesn’t constitute an endorsement of Glenn Beck. And even if you can spin it that way, it’s not a really significant endorsement. Heck, the most famous baseball player in the world spoke at a Glenn Beck rally last year and that didn’t help Beck stay relevant. I’m not sure that some boring video platform agreement is going to do any better.

So good for Americans United for Change for doing something they believe to be important. I just have a hard time seeing it being all that important.

*Note: the name of any piece of legislation or any political action group is almost 100% guaranteed to be misleading in the extreme. If a bill is proposed called the “Everyone Gets Free Pizza and Hugs Act,” watch out because it likely hides horrors behind its euphemistic name. If a group speaks of “united” Americans, rest assured that it only represents a motivated but small number of folks who are absolutely not united with the folks who think about things differently than them.  Just sayin’!  

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?

Jose Bautista had a courtside view of Saturday night’s epic NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic put on a tremendous show in Saturday night’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest up in Toronto, Canada. The stars were out to see it at the Air Canada Centre, and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista had one of the very best views in the house. Check out this video he posted to Instagram of LaVine’s final dunk, a between-the-legs jam from just inside the free throw line …

Its a wrap!!! #BackToBack #SlamDunk #Champion @zachlavine8 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

A video posted by Jose Bautista (@joeybats19) on

That is Toronto’s very own Drake going wild in the pink jacket. Gordon probably had the best individual dunk of the night, though, if we’re being really real …

Back to your regularly scheduled baseball programming. Pitchers and catchers report Friday.