Or at least an alleged one.
By way of disclaimer: I don’t offer this in my usual spirit of pumping up baseball at the expense of the NFL. This is way too serious a matter for that. And I hope like hell that the allegations here aren’t true. But if they are — if even part of them are — this would be a major, major story. One that could be far more serious for the NFL than the concussion thing:
A new class action has been filed against the NFL alleging that the league illegally used prescription pain-killers to mask injuries and to allow players to keep playing. The named plaintiffs include Bears Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent and former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.
The allegations include claims that teams would conceal the diagnosis of injuries from players, pump them up with drugs and send them back on the field. Injuries like actual broken bones. McMahon claims that his teams doing them led him into a severe prescription drug addiction. Mike Florio has context about the legal hurdles the players have before them and talks about the complexities of it all here. Given Mike’s legal background, if this story is of interest to you, be sure to follow at PFT.
In any event, if these allegations are borne out, it makes Biogenesis, BALCO and any other drug scandal we’ve seen in sports look like child’s play. I mean, it’s one thing when some rogue athletes willingly take some things they shouldn’t in an effort to get healthy again following an injury. It’s another thing altogether for the league itself to be involved in a pattern of behavior in which players are given drugs for the specific purpose of getting injured bodies back on the field before they have a chance to get healthy. Against their will and without their knowledge if the allegations here are true.
Here’s hoping that, unlike with any of the other drug scandals in sports, this one is treated with the amount of gravity it is actually owed.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.