Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller: CEO Pay is way worse than ballplayer pay, Commissioner Landis was in the KKK

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Marvin Miller — and a bunch of other heavy hitters such as Michael Weiner and Don Fehr — appeared at an NYU law school forum last night.  Miller, at 95, still throws fastballs. And some serious chin music at the long-dead Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Noting that the public still seems to get bent out of shape about how much money baseball players make, Miller opined that the system which leads to big paychecks for ballplayers is far more fair than the one that leads to big paychecks for CEOs:

“Let’s take chief executive officers of important corporations, or the stock exchange or Wall Street firms,” he said. “The typical way that compensation is set is for the board of directors, most of whom if not all of whom have been appointed directly by the CEO, decide what the CEO’s salary should be, or they have a committee, a compensation committee composed of board members …

In contrast:

“There always has been and is a rule that no contract of a player is valid unless it is signed by the franchise owner or somebody designated by the franchise owner in his place,” Miller said. “In other words, no salary is put on paper and becomes valid until the man who is going to pay for it, the owner of the franchise, has signed the contract. A better check and balance you can’t find anywhere.”

Miller went on to note quite correctly that free agency has corresponded quite nicely with exploding franchise values and team revenues and said “I never before saw such a win-win situation my life.”  And he’s right. About all of that stuff.

He was on less firm footing when he started going farther back in history, defending the Chicago Black Sox players who were banned from the game, saying that they shouldn’t have been since their criminal cases were thrown out.  On this I would certainly beg to differ.   History is also not on Miller’s side when he said this about Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis:

Of Landis, he said “later it was felt (he) was clearly a member of the Ku Klux Klan.” Jackie Robinson didn’t break baseball’s color barrier until 1947, 2 1/2 years after Landis left baseball … “I don’t know that he wasn’t,” Miller said after his speech. “The rumors were that he was.”

I don’t think there’s any question that Landis was one of the driving — as well as obstructing — forces behind keeping baseball segregated during his tenure. And, depending on which accounts you believe, the man may have very well been quite the racist, even compared to others of his time. But there’s a big difference between that and being a member of the KKK, for which there is no credible evidence I know of.

Landis has been dead for 68 years so I doubt he cares, but dude, Marvin, seriously.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.