Jackie Robinson

Did players flip bats in the 1940s?

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I posted the link to the trailer for the new “42” movie last night.  Here is again. Watch it, and then join below for a brief discussion:

Since that came out, a couple of topics of conversation have popped up.

First: Do we like what we can see of Harrison Ford’s Branch Rickey? Last night I suggested that it was actual acting instead of Leading Manning from Ford, which is something we haven’t seen from him in ages.  But now that I’ve watched it a few times, I’m struck by how his first lines of dialogue — starting at the :30 mark and going through :47 — in the trailer make it seem like he’s doing an impression of Heath Ledger doing The Joker.  Interesting choice.

Second: at the 1:03 mark or so, Robinson hits a homer and flips the bat.  People on Twitter are wondering — as am I — if bat flipping as a means of defiance was a thing in the 1940s. Or, alternatively, are the filmmakers retconning some attitude to Robinson that wasn’t really there.

It’s all interesting, mostly because Robinson has sorta been canonized in a way that has, regretfully, robbed him of his humanity in the public imagination. Dude probably wasn’t always a saint, whether or not people flipped bats back in the 1940s.

Anyway, now would be a good time for me to go find a good Jackie Robinson biography.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.