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Must-click link: long-time Red Sox P.R. flack dishes the dirt

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Doug Bailey was a Boston Globe reporter. Then he was a P.R. man.  His P.R. firm repped Les Otten and Tom Werner, who went on to buy the Red Sox.  From 2001 through 2006 Bailey handled P.R. and communications for the Sox, and in his words, he “got to know these people pretty well over the years, got to see them at their best and their worst.”

And in this month’s Boston Magazine, he tells a bunch of stories about the Henry/Luchhino/Epstein/Francona Red Sox.

Some of the more interesting things: how the Sox gave out bags of infield “dirt” to fans that wasn’t dirt. The actually quite obvious secret as to how the Fenway grass looks so green. Nomar Garciaparra asking if the International Space Station is as big as Fenway Park. And, of course, some juicy inside-the-front-office stuff:

Clearly, factions were forming on Yawkey Way, roughly around one group that felt Lucchino had amassed too much power and was butting into everything, particularly baseball operations, and another that believed Epstein was more lucky than talented and owed his entire baseball existence to Lucchino. The conflict led to some tense moments and intensified the club’s already ingrained obsession with unauthorized leaks to the press.

It’s a long article so pull up a chair.  But it’s nice and juicy too, so you’ll enjoy it.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.