This is both totally unexpected and extremely unusual. And dare I say, ill-advised. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports:
In an unprecedented agreement between Major League Baseball and union officials, suspended Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera will be ruled ineligible to win the 2012 NL batting title, sources told CSNBayArea.com.
Cabrera asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday, when his representatives sent a letter to union officials. The Players’ Association worked out a one-time amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officials on Thursday, one day after Commissioner Bud Selig said publicly that he was not likely to take action on the matter.
A “one-time amendment” to the rule is a curious phrase. Rather Orwellian, actually. What it is a decision to just ignore a rule because baseball and/or Melky Cabrera or whoever initiated this decision didn’t like the repercussions of that rule.
I presume this will make a lot of people happy because no one was comfortable seeing Melky Cabrera win the batting title. But it also opens the door for all manner of messing around with the rules in the future when they don’t produce results to someone’s liking. Which is exactly the kind of arbitrary thing having rules is supposed to prevent.
I also love how Melky “asked to be removed from consideration” for the batting average title. Quick: Adam Dunn! Call the league and ask to be taken out of consideration for the strikeout title.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.