Alex Rodriguez Reuters

MLB may not want A-Rod in the playoffs, but they’ll get over it


I don’t know if the Yankees will close the 2.5 game gap between them and the playoffs, but they might. And if they do, Mike Lupica argues, the league will hate it:

Now it is September of 2013, what the Yankees hope will be a big September as they try to clinch a wild card or maybe still win the American League East from the Red Sox, whom they would play in three hours. And less than four years from A-Rod’s dream October, he has become Major League Baseball’s worst nightmare. There is only one player whom the people who run the sport don’t want to see playing baseball this October, and it is Alex Rodriguez . . .

I suppose there is a lot of truth to that. I also suppose that baseball will quite gladly accept the high TV rankings and generalized buzz that will flow from the Yankees — and A-Rod — making the playoffs.

And even if they hate it now, I would think that at least some forward thinkers at the league office will recognize that an A-Rod in the playoffs story will — while certainly causing a lot of controversy and hand-wringing — reveal that the sport is larger than the controversies which so many wish to have define it. That A-Rod’s foibles will not turn Yankees fans off of their team’s run. Nor will it kill non-Yankees fans interest in rooting against the Yankees. It will fuel it, actually, and while that may still be based on the ugly PED stuff, it’s always been good for baseball when folks root for and against the Yankees.

The sport has survived so many scoundrels and scandals. It is and will continue to survive this one. Anyone saying otherwise is ignorant of the game’s history and is misapprehending the seriousness — as opposed to the mere salaciousness — of A-Rod and the Biogenesis stuff.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.