Did the BBWAA violate its own Constitution in disciplining Dan LeBatard? Maybe? I can’t tell.

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Dan Szymborski alerts me to something that is potentially  — and I stress “potentially” — quite delicious. It seems that the BBWAA Constitution — under which the BBWAA suspended Dan LeBatard for giving his vote to Deadspin — requires notice and hearing before disciplinary action. Notice and hearing that could not have possibly taken place before his suspension today:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Disciplinary

Section 3: As the Association’s disciplinary commission, the Board shall be empowered to investigate charges and conduct trials in special meetings in the following manner:

A written statement of charges of any alleged misconduct against a member shall be served on the respondent at least 15 days in advance of any hearing or trial. The written statement shall include a reference to the provision in the Constitution or other governing rule or regulation alleged to have been violated, as well as a statement of the conduct of the respondent that is alleged to have violated that provision.

The Association and the respondent shall exchange lists of witnesses and copies of all exhibits that they propose to submit at the hearing or trial at least five days in advance of the hearing or trial.

At the hearing or trial, both the Association and the respondent shall be given a reasonable opportunity to cross-examine each others’ witnesses, as well as to present witnesses on their own behalf and to present relevant documentary evidence.

Obviously none of that has or could have happened given that LeBatard’s identity as the Deadspin Whisperer wasn’t revealed until yesterday.

That said, there is another section in the Constitution which works against this, as it suggests that one-year suspensions — which LeBatard recevied — can happen “automatically.”

B: Members shall adhere to the objects and ethics of the Association and shall exercise utmost care in the duties and privileges of memberships.

    1. 1. Violators’ memberships shall be suspended automatically by any Chapter Chair or Association Warden for one year dating there from. This offense shall be reported to the Secretary-Treasurer and the card of the offender shall be revoked.
    1. Reinstatement after suspension shall, in addition to regular qualification, require payment of annual dues for the period of suspension.

This is a little problematic in that neither section references the other, which you would normally expect when one term limits another term of such a document. It’s possible that this is just bad drafting. It’s possible that the one-year “automatic” suspension refers to different kinds of suspensions — ones by local chapter chairs instead of the Board of Directors, for example — than the one LeBatard got. It’s also possible that LeBatard indicated to the BBWAA that he’d waive all hearing and appeal rights and just take his medicine so none of this potential ambiguity matters in the least.

If he did want to challenge this — and if I’m not simply missing something in the BBWAA Constitution — he could theoretically sue to be reinstated or something, arguing that his organization didn’t follow its own rules. But really, it’s highly unlikely he’d bother given that he basically gave the BBWAA the big kiss off with his comments in Deadspin yesterday.

I’d be curious for others — especially others with legal backgrounds — to look at these two provisions and the BBWAA Constitution and see if I’m out to lunch or if LeBatard would actually have something to argue about if he wanted to. My presumption is that the BBWAA Board of Directors thought about all of this beforehand and that there isn’t much here, but my litigator’s eye keeps going to the notice and hearing provision and thinking … “hmmm”

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.