When J.G. Taylor Spink called the Indians signing of Satchel Paige a publicity stunt

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This is pretty darn interesting. Blogger Bob Lemke looks back at the hubbub when Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians signed Satchel Paige in 1948. Specifically when The Sporting News — through the editorials of its publisher, J.G. Taylor Spink — decried the signing as a rank publicity stunt:

“In criticizing the acquisition of Satchel Paige  by Cleveland, THE SPORTING NEWS believes that Veeck has gone too far in his quest of publicity, and that he has done his league’s position absolutely no good insofar as public reaction is concerned … Paige said he was 39 years of ago (sic). There are reports that he is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50  It would have done Cleveland and the American League no good in the court of public opinion if, at 50, Paige were as Caucasian as, let us say, Bob Feller.  To bring in a pitching ‘rookie’ of Paige’s age casts a reflection on the entire scheme of operation in the major leagues. To sign a hurler at Paige’s age is to demean the standards of baseball in the big circuits. Further complicating the situation is that suspicion that if Satchel were white, he would not have drawn a second thought from Veeck.”

Of course, all Paige did for the Indians in 1948 was go 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA as a swingman as the Indians marched toward the pennant and then on to the World Series title. Even after Paige had won five games for the Indians, however, Spink stuck to his guns, writing another editorial criticizing Veeck for the Paige signing.

As Lemke notes, Spink’s racial views were hard to figure — he was pro-integration in baseball but later critical of Jackie Robinson — so it’s hard to see how much of this was about Paige, how much was about Veeck, how much was about Spink and how much of it was simply about bad baseball analysis and an underestimation of what was left of Paige’s skills.  But either way, I had never heard this before and think it’s pretty fascinating.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.