Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez free to sign with MLB team

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Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been drawing plenty of interest around MLB, but teams have been unable to bid on him because he had to secure an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) first. The wait is officially over.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Gonzalez has been cleared by the U.S. government and is now free to sign with any team. The bidding is expected to move pretty quickly, as Sanchez hears that a deal could come together within the next two weeks.

Gonzalez defected from Cuba earlier this year and took up residency in Mexico while waiting to be cleared to come to the United States. The 26-year-old stands at 6-foot-3 and was described by Sanchez as having “a fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup, fork and a curveball.”

Because Gonzalez is older than 23 years old and played in Cuba’s top league for more than three seasons, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending cap. One recent report suggested he could get a deal in the range of $40-60 million. The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the teams expected to be in the mix.

Bartolo Colon Watching the Eclipse Is Your Moment of Zen

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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.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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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.