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”

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.