And now a positive note about the MVP award voting

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The MVP award voting has brought about a lot of disgusting negativity, abject absurdity and borderline criminal levels of ignorance. And some people besides Mitch Albom decided to write about it too! But there was one positive thing to take away from the vote totals yesterday, and that’s Ryan Braun’s showing.

I would have voted Buster Posey over him, but it’s pretty clear that he was a top MVP candidate in the National League. Good arguments could be made for him as the second best player, but it would certainly be within the realm of reason to have him anywhere in the top four, along with Posey, Yadier Molina and Andrew McCutchen. And that’s where he finished. Second overall and present on all 32 MVP ballots. Indeed, no voter placed him lower than fourth.

I view this as a very good thing because I was convinced that someone — perhaps many someones — was going to either leave him off their ballot entirely or put him way down the list as some sort of extra-judicial punishment for the whole PED test thing last year, much the way PED guys are punished by the Hall of Fame voters. Which, as I’ve written ad nauseam over the years, is stupid.

The Hall of Fame electorate and the awards electorate are very different beasts so I don’t expect, say, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds to get a fair shake next month when the Hall ballots are submitted, but I do view this as a positive step forward for BBWAA voters.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.