Willie Mays Aikens: “Every day, every game of the World Series…I snorted cocaine”

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For those unfamiliar, Willie Mays Aikens used to play first base for the Kansas City Royals.  He first came to most people’s attention when he had a breakout performance in the 1980 World Series.

He later came to people’s attention in 1983 when he Willie Wilson, Vida Blue, and Jerry Martin of the Kansas City Royals were convicted of conspiracy to buy cocaine from undercover federal agents and were senteced to 90 days in federal prison. And then, finally and most tragically, he came to people’s attention in the mid 90s when he was arrested for selling crack and was sent to federal prison for nearly 14 years.  Then he was forgotten.

He was released from prison in 2008, however, and after that began working in the community and working construction jobs in an effort to make something of a life that had been derailed.  Last year, he was hired by his old team, the Kansas City Royals.  He was home again, getting a second chance.

Today Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation has a fantastic feature — video and in print — on Aikens, his rise, his fall from grace and his redemption.  It’s harrowing and wonderful at the same time and I highly recommend that you give it a read and a view.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.