A book about fathers and sons learning to love baseball after the steroids scandals? Hoo-boy.

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Via Baseball Think Factory, we learn of the existence of a new book about fathers, sons, baseball and … steroids:

Freelance writer Jim Gullo loves baseball and he wanted his son Joe to love it too. So, in the spring of 2007, he bought seven year old Joe a glove, a bat and a ball, and got him started collecting cards where they lived on Bainbridge Island near Seattle … Then in December, the Mitchell report named 89 players likely to have used steroids and other performance enhancing drug sand Joe’s questions changed:”It says that baseball players took drugs to make them better?” And, “Isn’t it cheating?”

Joe also wanted to know if the players who took drugs would be punished. But his dad didn’t have any answers — so the two went looking for them. The result is a physical and emotional journey that Jim chronicles in his new book, “Trading Manny: How a Father and Son Learned to Love Baseball Again.”

There’s an excerpt there if you’re curious.

As for the book:  Oof. Look, I’m a father of a six-year-old boy and I get the whole father-son thing pretty well. You want to bond over things and you want to answer your son’s difficult questions and you want them to always have hope that the world is a great place and that it doesn’t suck.

But I also know that if I was worried that professional athletes taking drugs would lead to either (a) my son’s loss of innocence; or (b) “an emotional journey,” I’d reassess the primacy of sports in our relationship.

People do dumb things. People cheat. Kids should know that. They should also know that athletes aren’t heroes or role models. And in my view, any parent who sets up a paradigm in which athletes either have to be role models or, when they don’t act like it, a serious soul searching is required, is making a mistake in their kids’ upbringing.

Yeah, I said it. Sorry if that pisses anyone off, but I’m pretty freaking adamant about the lunacy of having professional athletes-as-role-models. Parents and guardians and siblings and real people who face real everyday challenges are role models.

Even if my kids and I enjoy professional sports as a pastime, the participants — people who live a unique and privileged existence in which the decision to take drugs or not could mean millions — are not living any kind of life that holds lessons for my children.

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.