A-Rod: not hitting, but still trying to score

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This may be the most New York Post story ever:

After being replaced in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the highest-paid Yankee openly flirted with a pair of pretty women two rows behind the dugout — even sending them a ball bearing a note asking for their phone numbers, a witness told The Post.

“I watched him flirt with two admittedly very cute young women nearby,’’ the witness said.

But see, that part of it is actually fun. Here’s the part that makes it New York Posty:

Instead of rooting on his teammates as they struggled to stay alive during the tense game at Yankee Stadium, A-Rod, 37, had a ball boy toss the young women a baseball inscribed with a message asking for their numbers … Fans sitting behind the dugout at Saturday’s game said they were disgusted after witnessing A-Rod’s shenanigans, which were more befitting a sixth-grader than a serious ballplayer.

There is a fabulously indignant quote about it from some anonymous fan too, which sounds so spot-on perfect in its flabbergasted outrage that I’d be shocked if the person who gave it wasn’t clutching his or her pearls at the time.  RIP to all of those people who died as a result of these tragic shenanigans.  If only A-Rod had been as dour and serious as they were, this atrocity would never have occurred.

By the way, this is a good time to look back to that thing about narratives we discussed yesterday, because a story like this is the kind of thing where narrative silliness is almost certain to occur.

It’s one thing to look at this as a fluffy, silly amusing story which allows us to crack wise. That can be a lot of fun if we let it be and if we don’t take everything so damn seriously. For example: if one of the “admittedly very cute young women near by” call A-Rod back, we can all take great joy in the fact that he has finally stopped striking out.

It’s another thing altogether, however — another idiotic thing — to turn this inconsequential little tabloid story into some metaphor for Rodriguez’s and the Yankees’ postseason struggles or something. If we pretend that This Means Something, either in a baseball sense or a moral sense or a work-ethic sense that has Serious Consequences for the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez’s legacy.

I say we should feel free to have all the fun with this kind of story we want, and to let our references to it be only limited by our senses of humor (note: almost all of the jokes will be bad and beaten into the ground by noon, but it’s not like that has stopped us before) .  However, to the extent you’re reading something from a baseball writer or talking to some other fan and they want to turn this into Chicken and Beer South, be assured that you are dealing with some weapons-grade stupid.

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.