New York Yankees' Rodriguez speaks with reporters following his rehab assignment for Tampa Yankees in a minor league baseball game against Bradenton Marauders in Tampa

Report: Alex Rodriguez may consider plea deal with MLB

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As we mentioned yesterday, Alex Rodriguez had his long-awaited meeting with MLB’s investigators on Friday. Now we have the fallout.

According to Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News, lawyers for Rodriguez are internally discussing the possibility of a plea deal with MLB. It’s believed that MLB also broached the possibility of a settlement with Ryan Braun and other players connected to Biogenesis.

According to another source, Rodriguez’s meeting with MLB ended at about 4 p.m., and a clearly shaken Rodriguez then met with MLB Players Association reps for an hour and a half to discuss what had been outlined by MLB officials. When Rodriguez didn’t show up at the Yankee complex, GM Brian Cashman then tried to reach the three-time AL MVP, who told him that he “just couldn’t make it.”

Meanwhile, an A-Rod spokesman told The News Saturday night in reference to a possible plea deal that “nobody from Alex’s team has made any such comments, and as we have said before, we are respecting the process and following the procedures as outlined in the joint agreement.”

As The News has reported, MLB is believed to have extensive evidence, including Bosch’s own testimony, that Rodriguez committed multiple violations of the joint drug agreement, including acquiring performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch for several years. The self-described “biochemist” has been cooperating with MLB for several weeks in exchange for being dropped from baseball’s lawsuit against him for tortious interference with its player contracts, indemnifying him for legal expenses and putting in a good word for him with law enforcement, and he is believed to have provided proof of his dealings with Rodriguez.
“I can see a scenario where if they’ve got multiple offenses (against A-Rod) that rather than going for his career with an arbitrator, baseball might settle on something like 150 games,” said one of the sources.
According to the Joint Drug Agreement, players are suspended 50 games for a first violation, 100 games for a second, and receive a lifetime ban for a third. As a result, it’s unclear where the 150-game number is coming from, but MLB could be floating it as a compromise if they have a legitimate case for a lifetime ban. Rodriguez would be entitled to an appeal, but a plea deal could be more appealing than hoping that an arbitrator will rule in his favor, especially if his legal team believes the evidence against him is significant and credible. In addition to his career potentially being on the line, Rodriguez still has $100 million remaining on his contract with the Yankees.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]