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Must-Click Link: the 25 worst contracts in baseball

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It’s hard to disagree with Michael Baumann’s rundown of the 25 worst contracts in baseball over at The Ringer. All of the stinkers are on it: Jose Altuve‘s terrible deal. Mike Trout‘s albatross of a contract. Sal Perez’s highway robbery of a pact. Adam Eaton‘s deal which, frankly, is hamstringing.

Wait, you say those are good deals? Well, silly, that’s because you’re seeing them from the team’s perspective, and not the players’:

In the grand scheme of injustices, athletes making less than they’re worth is a small one, but the rhetoric surrounding labor couldn’t be more important, because it shows up in our everyday lives. It’s not “bad” that a worker, particularly one who’s put in his time, negotiates a favorable contract with his employer. It’s not “good” that young workers sell off their future earnings cheaply in order to ensure some measure of long-term security, all so that billionaires can keep labor costs down.

A deal has two parties and a deal can be good or bad from either party’s perspective. Yet, as Baumann points out, fans almost uniformly talk about contracts that benefit the team more than the player as “good” and contracts which benefit the player more than the team as “bad.”

The billionaires who own baseball teams are quite happy that you do that, by the way. It’s in their best interests for you to think of them as benevolent protectors of some public trust rather than businessmen. It makes it easier for them to get you to pay for their new stadiums and stuff. It’s also in their best interests for you to think of their workers as greedy and overpaid because, well, business owners have always liked that in literally every industry ever.

You don’t have to think that way, though. You can, and maybe should, examine why, exactly, you do.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.