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Some HBT commenting housekeeping

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Just two weeks ago I wrote a personal blog post about how, for all of the insanity, ugliness and poor taste of comments sections, they serve a useful purpose. Several useful purposes, actually.

There is a bit of community here among many of you, and I’m glad we can serve as a forum for that. As my landing on an unfortunate Buzzfeed list this morning shows — a lot of my own mistakes are caught by you guys and I’m glad when you point them out. You also challenge my thinking on any number of topics and I welcome that. This is HardballTalk, not Hardball Soliloquy. Interaction is important and it will continue. Comments aren’t going anywhere as long as it’s up to me.

But I gotta tell ya, a lot of you have been real jackasses lately. The crossing of racist, sexist and homophobic lines has increased lately. As has the violation of the more amorphous yet still important standard of simply not being obnoxious to one another. It’s entirely possible to disagree with someone else here without being a jerk. It’s a shame how many of you seem to have forgotten that.

As a result of this, we have carried out a few bannings over the past few days. A couple of them relatively regular commenters. There was no warning or notice to them as this is not a democracy and we can ban whoever we like. We just reached a tipping point with them. We will continue to keep an itchy ban finger for the time being because some people are making it unpleasant for the vast majority of people here who just want to talk about baseball and we won’t tolerate it.

That aside, our commenting rules are and will remain pretty permissive. We don’t shoot down comments or ban commenters simply for disagreeing with us. Or for being idiots. Or for using bad language. Or for being insensitive or controversial. It’s actually good when people argue or disagree about things or when others are taken out of their comfort zone. That’s when you learn things. And no one has the right to go through life without having their sensibilities offended from time to time. The last thing we want is for some phony level politeness, some hyper-orthodoxy or some brand of groupthink to rule the comments. Mix it up, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

But really people, clean it up a bit. Be civil to one another. Understand that what may wash in a thread under one of my posts may not wash for the other HBT writers and know that, if you act like a jackass, you’re going to lose your commenting privileges. As always, we won’t tolerate the following:

  • Racism;
  • Misogyny;
  • Homophobia or gay bashing;
  • Antisemitism;
  • Excessive personal attacks on other commenters.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about controversial topics. Or argue with people. But be adults about it.

Thanks.

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.

Video: John Axford discusses 2017 Oscar picks

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 08:  John Axford #61 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch during the seventh inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 8, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Sure, it may feel gimmicky to go around asking players to make predictions for the Academy Awards, but when it comes to the Athletics’ John Axford, he knows what he’s talking about. The right-hander has a proven track record of making near-perfect ballot predictions, getting 14 of 15 winners correct in 2013, 18 of 18 in 2014, 17 of 24 in 2015 and 17 of 24 again in 2016.

With a range of award-worthy films to choose from this year, Axford selected the crowd-pleasing (and record-breaking seven Golden Globe winner) La La Land for Best Picture, Manchester By the Sea‘s Casey Affleck for Best Actor and “the sweetheart of Hollywood,” Emma Stone, for Best Actress.

His full ballot was released to Twitter on Saturday, locking in La La Land for eight total Oscars. Going a perfect 24-for-24 might be a near-impossible feat, but if anyone can pull it off, Axford’s the one to do it.