In May, voters in Cleveland will decide whether to renew a tax on alcohol and cigarette — everyone is calling it the “sin tax,” but it’s formally called Issue 7 — to fund upgrades and maintenance of Cleveland’s professional sports facilities. The tax has been in place for several years — it helped pay for the Cavaliers Arena, Progressive Field and the Browns stadium — but it’s expiring. If it passes, the new sin tax would be in effect for 20 years. While not a personal fan of any public dollars going to professional sports stadiums, at least this is being put to the voters, so do whatever you want Cleveland.
But even if democracy is at work here, there is still some unseemliness afoot. Specifically, at Progressive Field. The Indians, obviously, support Issue 7 . So much so that they are alleged to have fired an employee because he was unwilling to serve as a campaign sign for issue. From Cleveland Scene:
Edward Loomis, a former usher for the Cleveland Indians, says that the team’s campaign to get voters on its side also includes mandatory pro-Issue 7 stickers that must be worn by employees and that his refusal to wear the pro-sin tax gear led to his dismissal from his job.
Read the whole story. There is a suggestion that Loomis was fired for other reasons — there was a dispute about him coming to work on days he wasn’t scheduled — so it is possible that his refusal to wear an Issue 7 sticker while working wasn’t the real reason he was canned.
But even if he was fired for other reasons, is anyone else uncomfortable with an employer forcing its employees to wear campaign stickers like that? It’s legal in the private sector, I realize, but it’s not the sort of thing that has ever made me feel comfortable. At the very least, give people who may not agree with bringing politics into the peanut-selling business the option of remaining silent on the matter.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.
Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.
Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.