I’m gonna be sick to death of this stuff by January, but man, I forgot how much I loved the scuttlebutt, rumors, slanders, lies, hyperbole and general silliness of the hot stove season. And it hasn’t truly begun until you start hearing things about Scott Boras clients, be it stuff from Boras himself or from people who are speculating about what his clients are demanding.
Up next: Michael Bourn, who CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury has heard is seeking a contract of around $100 million.
Before you say anything, let’s remember something about how offseasons work. (1) people sign big contracts; (2) everyone mocks the contracts as silly and crazy and oh my god they’re going to bust the team; and (3) within a couple of years most of them don’t look too terribly bad and even the real clunkers end up being more annoying than team-killing. Hell, even Barry Zito got some redemption this year. Add into that the fact that so many teams have so much more money now due to the big TV deals dropping and you’ll quickly realize that we’re entering a different world.
With that large caveat aside, if Bourn does get $100 million, we certainly are entering a much different financial world than the one we currently know. He’s a good player. Great on defense, can steal some bases and is in the lineup every day. But he sported a 274/.348/.391 batting line in his walk year and that’s better than his career line. He’s a 90 OPS+ guy. Dave Roberts without the legendary playoff steal.
Which is really nice, actually. But that skill set has not previously garnered anyone $100 million, and it’s hard to see how it might now, even in this brave new world.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.