Joe Morgan had his statue unveiled at Great American Ballpark. And he said something interesting.

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Last night Joe Morgan became the sixth former Red to have a statue at Great American Ballpark. Before him: Joe Nuxhall, Ted Kluszewski Frank Robinson, Ernie Lombardi and  Johnny Bench. The statue was dedicated before the game and sits at the northwest entrance to the ballpark, which is the main entrance. So: pretty cool.

Also pretty cool: all eight starting position players for the 1975-76 World Series champion Reds — the Great Eight, as some call them — were on hand. Including Pete Rose, who was given permission from Major League Baseball. Cincinnati never lets you forget about the Big Red Machine, but man, when you have a lineup with Morgan, Bench, Rose, Perez, Concepcion, Griffey, Foster and Geronimo in it they can be excused for reminding you. Just insane.

A third pretty cool thing? What Joe Morgan said at the presentation. After noting that Johnny Bench once said that getting his statue was more important to him than getting into the Hall of Fame — and noting that, at the time, he doubted that — Morgan said this:

“Johnny, you were right,” Morgan continued. “Today is a better day. The Hall of Fame is about numbers and playing on great teams. You only get a statue or a sculpture if they want you to be remembered.”

I love that sentiment on an emotional level in that, absolutely, the statue thing or any other honor the home team gives former players comes from a much more heartfelt place in which fan sentiment and history and all of that are mixed up into nothing short of a big hug.  On a personal level that has to be among the most satisfying things that can happen to an athlete.

But I also love it because, even though I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way based on his past comments on the matter, maybe it will nonetheless help remind those who seek to keep PED users out of the Halll of Fame that it’s not their job to decide who will and who will not be remembered. It is not their job to make the judgment that, baseball accomplishments aside, some players are to become part of history and others aren’t. That’s the stuff of statues and memorials and special days. The Hall of Fame is — or at least should be — about baseball.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.