Why it’s worth calling out idiots like Skip Bayless

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In the wake of the Skip Bayless/Derek Jeter nonsense this morning an age-old complaint has arose on Twitter and in the comments among a lot of people I respect.  It basically goes like this: “Why pay any attention to what Skip Bayless says? You’re just giving him attention and that’s what he wants.”

Yes. It is. It’s a valid point, too, and one that is hard to dismiss. But, as I’ve written before, I don’t care. I still think that it’s worth calling out idiocy for idiocy’s sake.

Ignoring Skip Bayless is not going to do a thing. His ratings are his ratings and they’re not going to be impacted by a small minority of people like those of us around here refusing to watch him or tune in. That’s because there are already huge, huge numbers of people who tune into that noise. Who nod their head and say “go, Skip, go!”  The traffic I send his way when I criticize him is negligible. He is going to get his ratings and have his job as long as he doesn’t find himself in some sort of personal scandal or something. Just ask Jay Mariotti about how that works.

So why bother at all? At the risk of sounding super naive, I simply don’t believe that ignorance and idiocy are best combated by silence. People generally take silence as tacit approval. And, because this is sports and not something truly important like life, death, work and the like, people are willing to just float along with that ignorance and idiocy and not think too critically about it unless they really feel a need to do so.

I don’t presume to influence a lot of people — and like I said, I don’t think a handful of smart folks can sink the mighty Skip Bayless — but I do know from my own experience that I am more likely to question certain things — especially things that aren’t at the forefront of my life — if I am given a reason to question it. If I hear someone else point out something I haven’t thought of before. I like to think that if I do that for stupidity like that peddled by Bayless, a few people may question why they consume that garbage.

And that’s all I want. A few people. A few people who maybe didn’t realize how dumb Skip Bayless is to stop and realize how dumb Skip Bayless is. And for them to peel away from that crap and hang out here. Or to go read Joe Sheehan’s newsletter or Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated or Rob Neyer at SB Nation or to watch Brian Kenny on “Clubhouse Confidential” or any of the many other smarter outlets there are for baseball discussion. A few of those folks abandoning Bayless won’t hurt him much because of his size and he’s still gonna do what he’s gonna do.  But a few thousand fans changing their mind about him will mean a lot to the smaller, smarter communities out there.

And the end of that is not just to raise our traffic here or to see Brian Kenny’s ratings increase. The end of it is that there will be more smarter, better informed fans out there. And that’s a benefit to everyone. Because whether I was doing this for a living or schlepping interrogatories at some litigation factory, I’m still gonna talk about baseball with people. And my life in that regard is way better if I’m talking to smart people. And almost all of the smart people I’ve already met got that way about baseball because, at some point, someone hipped them to the notion that [massively popular expert X] may not have a monopoly on wisdom.

Calling out Skip Bayless may be hopeless, but only if your hopes in doing so are to get rid of Skip Bayless.  If your goals are more modest and all you want to do is to improve things around the edges, then there is a point to tilting at that large, dumb and seemingly impenetrable windmill.

Unprecedented sanctions: MLB bans former Braves GM for life, makes 12 signees free agents

Associated Press
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Major League Baseball has slammed the hammer down on the Atlanta Braves as the result of their violations of rules on the international free agent market.

Former Braves General Manager John Coppolella has been placed on the permanently ineligible list — the same list Pete Rose is on — banning him from a job in baseball forever. His assistant, Gordon Blakeley, will be suspended for a period of one year. Each had already been dismissed by the Braves. Other Braves’ international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct could still be suspended as the league finishes its investigation.

As reported earlier, 12 of the clubs’ international signees are now free agents. The Braves will lose the following players, signed during the 2015-17 international free agent signing periods:

  • Juan Contreras;
  • Yefri del Rosario;
  • Abrahan Gutierrez;
  • Kevin Maitan;
  • Juan Carlos Negret;
  • Yenci Peña;
  • Yunior Severino;
  • Livan Soto;
  • Guillermo Zuniga;
  • Brandol Mezquita;
  • Angel Rojas; and
  • Antonio Sucre

As reported earlier, Maitan was the number one overall international prospect in 2016. The Braves have, for a few years now, had among the top international signee classes. Obviously that came by virtue of cheating the system, and obviously that will lead to a reevaluation of where the clubs’ minor league system stands, talent-wise.

The penalties are not limited to the loss of those players. Commissioner Manfred is imposing what amounts to punitive damages going forward. From Commissioner Manfred’s statement:

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.”

There was also what appears to be an unrelated draft violation, imposing penalties along those lines as well:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

The gist of the violations against the Braves involves the bundling of signing bonuses, in which the Braves got players — through their representatives in Latin America — to take lower than the amount typically allotted in one year in order to use the money to sign other, highly rated players in subsequent years, with money they wouldn’t have otherwise had. MLB’s statement describes the scheme thusly:

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules.

“Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period.”

The scheme continued like this:

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.”

This is, by far, the most serious set of scouting, drafting and signing penalties ever imposed by Major League Baseball. It speaks to the sheer audacity of the Braves’ scheme to circumvent signing rules. It also sends a loud and clear signal to other teams — many which have been rumored to have engaged in similar conduct on a smaller scale — that MLB will not tolerate it.

The Braves lower minor league system has been decimated. It stands, essentially, as the head on the pike outside of Major League Baseball’s castle.