Rob Manfred
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Rob Manfred is meeting Donald Trump today

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Since the election, a parade of folks have made their way in and out of Trump tower to meet with our next president. Some are job seekers, some are favor-curryers and some are simply goofing around. I’m going to leave it to you to figure out what category Rob Manfred falls into:

Baseball has all manner of political concerns, even if you choose to ignore them while yelling “stick to baseball” at those of us who do not. MLB has its own lobbying outfit, it has deep interest in all manner of legislation, it is subject to special treatment under federal law which it desperately wants to protect and, of course, baseball teams are owned by a bunch of billionaires and billionaires ALWAYS have a seat at the table of power, whether we like it or not. Manfred is the billionaire’s public face, so it’s natural that he’s going to meet with the new president.

Trump himself has shown an interest in baseball. He played when he was young. He  feuded with Cubs ownership last year, when the politically active Ricketts family donated money to other candidates. He then hired part of Cubs ownership, younger brother Todd Ricketts, who will likely be the next deputy commerce secretary, in part I assume because the Ricketts later changed course and donated to Trump. There was the time Trump tried to buy the Cleveland Indians, which he almost certainly wanted to move to Tampa, but that fell through. I doubt even he holds grudges that long, and most of the people involved in that are dead now, so I don’t guess Manfred is there to make amends.

Either way,  later, when the photos of Manfred walking into Trump Tower hit the wire, save one. And then look at it the next time you feel like yelling at someone to keep politics out of baseball. Because baseball is not interested in keeping politics out of baseball or baseball out of politics. Why should anyone else?

UPDATE: From the pool reporter at Trump Tower:

At 11:49 am, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the pool, very briefly:

“I had a really nice meeting with the President-elect. He explained to me his history with the game and what a great baseball fan he is, and we are glad that we had an opportunity to get together before his inauguration.”

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.