Newspapers are dying and professional sports leagues are taking it upon themselves to break news rather than talking to the pesky press. In light of that, what’s to become of Johnny Sportswriter? Why, covering individual athletes! From a recent story in the Wall Street Journal about the Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams:
By all appearances, Deron Williams has enjoyed the trappings of life as an NBA superstar … For most human beings, this would be enough. Not Williams, whose wide-ranging list of accomplishments and assets includes something extraordinary, unique even among pro athletes: He employs his own team of beat writers. Their mission? Spread the gospel of D-Will on his website, DeronWilliams.com.
Seriously: Williams employs his own beat writer to provide daily news updates on his website. Granted, its run by Williams and his agents/managers, so it’s not like this is “news” as we know it, but it is different than, say, an athlete updating social media sites or a publicist offering press releases. These are bylined stories that read like newspaper reports.
We live in a world where the message is being increasingly sculpted, crafted and controlled, even when the news goes out through independent media. In light of that, it’s not necessarily shocking that such a thing is happening, even if it is somewhat depressing. I would not be at all surprised if we see several other athletes following suit soon and, eventually, this becoming the new normal.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.
The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.
Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.
The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.
While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.