Before we move along to the next chapter of this running drama, let’s review a timeline of events:
- Jack Clark, a player for the Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Padres and Yankees over an 18-year major league career, claims on his CBS Sports 920 radio show in St. Louis that Albert Pujols’ former trainer used to inject the slugger with steroids. Clark says the trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered up this info while Mihlfeld and Clark were both on staff with the Dodgers in the late 1990s.
- Mihlfeld denies Clark’s story in a statement to HBT: “I haven’t even talked to Jack Clark in close to 10 years. His statements are simply not true. I have known Albert Pujols since he was 18 years old and he would never use illegal drugs in any way. I would bet my life on it and probably drop dead on the spot if I found out he has. … Albert and myself have been accused of doing something we didn’t do.”
- Pujols threatens legal action against Clark and the CBS Sports 920 ownership, insideSTL Enterprises. Clark and his partner Kevin Slaten are fired from the radio station, which had only been on air a week.
- Clark stands by his claim that Mihlfeld acknowledged injecting Pujols with steroids.
Slaten is now planning to sue insideSTL, writes Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Slaten said he got the termination call from insideSTL president Tim McKernan around midnight.
“I said ‘What?,”’ Slaten said. “He said, ‘We have to do what’s in the best interest of the company.’ I said, ‘You tell me how firing me is in the best interest of the company when you and (WGNU boss Burt Kaufman) said (earlier) that I did nothing wrong.”
Slaten said McKernan told him, “‘I know that, but everybody associated with the show has to go.
“I said, ‘Did you fire the producer? Did you fire yourself, you’re the one who paired us, did you fire yourself?’
There’s plenty more inside-radio stuff in that article. Clark is also upset about the sudden firing:
“I’m still trying to get my knife out of my back from the radio station, the way that was handled,” Clark told the Post-Dispatch. “They did not allow us to go ahead and talk about it, talk to callers. They made us lie and say the phones weren’t working.”
McKernan and insideSTL issued this short written statement on Saturday afternoon: “insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and all related companies would like to make clear that Jack Clark is no longer associated with the company. Mr. Clark was never employed by insideSTL but rather was an independent contractor. Any opinions, views or statements made by him strictly reflect his own personal views and do not reflect the views of insideSTL. insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and any related companies have never asserted and do not assert that Albert Pujols has ever used steroids or any other type of performing enhancing drug.”
Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.
You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.
The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.
So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.
Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”
Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.
Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.
The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.
Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.