Carl Pavano

Carl Pavano was the target of an extortion plot

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When you think of celebrity extortion plots you tend to think of super famous people with sterling reputations they’d do anything to protect. Someone tried to extort Bill Cosby once, for example. That’s pretty major because he’s an icon.  You tend not to think of extortion plots aimed at guys like Carl Pavano. But they happen:

The family of major league pitcher Carl Pavano told police that a former Southington High School classmate was trying to extort money and a luxury SUV from Pavano by threatening to reveal personal information about him.

Not just any luxury SUV. According to the story, the suspect left a message to Pavano’s family saying “the only way your brother is getting out of this… is with a heart-felt apology and a navy Range Rover with tan leather.”  So apparently he’s a highly specific extortionist. If it was a Mercedes ML63 with black leather we’d all now know about Pavano aided that Prussian spy during wartime or whatever it was.

OK, I’m being cute with that. There is a suggestion in the article of what the basis of the extortion threat was, with the suspect saying it was about “an emotional and physical relationship” he and Pavano had in high school.  Pavano’s family denies that, however.

I would add that extortion plots are more about threats and greed than they are about revealing actual truths and that as such you can’t necessarily assume that the threat in question is based in truth. All it has to be — to be successful anyway, which this one was apparently not — is potentially damaging, and lies can do that too.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.