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Life of a minor leaguer: “drugs, booze and cheap motels”

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That’s how Australia’s news.com.au describes life for baseball’s minor leaguers to its readers who are, presumably, not terribly familiar with baseball. Thing is, they cite the “drugs, booze and cheap motels” in an effort to paint the life of minor leaguers as a bad thing. Hell, compared to the fact that they’re not paid a living wage and are treated like heads of cattle, the drugs, booze and cheap motels are the best part!

But really, the story isn’t wrong. It’s just kinda funny to read about things we think of as common described by outsiders. Especially when they use phrases like “as foreign as a Frenchman,” which I am TOTALLY gonna steal from this guy and use again sometime soon.

Anyway, prepare yourself for the worst

Booze

Baseball players drink, partly because they don’t always need to be the most athletic specimens in the world of pro sports, but also to pass the time. These guys play up to 160 Games in a season in the Majors or 140 games at minor league level. That’s six games a week for six months. Each night, win or lose, their adrenalin is pumping. A beer or two or seven or eight helps.

No team spirit

Baseball, like cricket, is a team sport that is largely about the sum of individual performances rather than a bunch of guys working together as in the football codes. But it’s off the field that you really feel that lack of spirit, especially at minor league level. Guys in the minors would trample their best mate to get a promotion to the Majors.

Most players in a minor league club barely know each other’s names, let alone hang out together. There are exceptions, but for the most part it is a lonely, selfish mini-universe where the ethos of “one for all, all for one” is as foreign as a Frenchman.

This, right here, is the sport’s secret shame.

Cheap soulless hotels

All those games means a whole bunch of road trips. And road trips mean seedy hotels. At minor league level, a Holiday Inn is like the Hilton. More likely you’ll end up staying in some three star dump on a highway between Crapsville Illinois and Dumpsburg, Arkansas.

I am tired of seeing Crapsville, Illinois dumped on like this. Sure, it was a pretty bad scene in Crapsville 10-15 years ago, but since then they opened up Crapsville Brewery, which makes a great IPA and they turned the old Crapsville Metalworks factory into loft apartments. Really, Crapsville is now like the Brooklyn of the greater Armpit City, Illinois metro area.

Dumpsburg, Arkansas is awful, though. Just a wretched place.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.