TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reacts during a press conference prior to the American League Wild Card game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Report: Owners back off demand for international draft

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Ken Rosenthal reports a development from the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations: the owners, he says, have backed off their demand for an international draft as a requirement for a new CBA. Rosenthal says that they did so out of a “desire to move talks forward.”

As we’ve discussed on several occasions, the idea of an international draft is a bad one. At least if you give a fig about the rights of amateur players and don’t believe that it’s more important for billionaire club owners to save a little money than it is for 16-year-olds from poor countries to earn what they are worth on a free and open market. The Players Union — whose membership does not include international amateur free agents — was assumed to be relatively indifferent to the idea or, at most, was thought to be prepared to use the international draft as a bargaining chip to obtain something greater for itself. Their opposition to the idea, however, proved to be surprisingly strong. Indeed, several high profile major leaguers showed up at bargaining sessions yesterday to personally voice their disapproval of the idea.

Rosenthal says that despite the concession by the owners, the CBA talks have not exactly barreled forward. He notes, however, that the final item which remains is agreement on luxury tax levels and that such matters are usually the final ones agreed to in CBA talks.

The current CBA expires on Thursday. While some have suggested that the owners could lock the players out if an agreement is not reached before its expiration, that scenario seems highly unlikely. After all, the owners’ resolve to do such a thing was reported to be weaker than it was to impose an international draft and we see how quickly that demand was dropped. That aside, the expiration of the CBA has rarely, in and of itself, signaled a work stoppage. Indeed, enitre seasons have been played without a CBA in place and have been so under far more acrimonious relations between players and owners than which currently exists.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.