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UPDATE: Waiter says Bruce Maxwell is lying about being refused service

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UPDATE: Earlier this week, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell told TMZ Sports that a waiter refused to serve him at an Alabama restaurant because he was a Trump supporter and he disagreed with Maxwell’s kneeling protests during the National Anthem late in the season. The original report to that effect is below.

Today, however, the waiter and the restaurant manager say that Maxwell and the man he was eating with, a local city councilman, are lying. First, from Huntsville, Alabama news website, Rocketcitynow.com:

“That is an absolute lie,” said Matthew Henry, the waiter . . . I never mentioned President Trump. I never mentioned kneeling,” Henry said. “I had no idea who he was until his friend told me halfway through the lunch . . . I would like a public apology from Mr. Bruce Maxwell,” Henry said. “And I would like one for all the folks I worked with. He represents Huntsville, Alabama, whether he likes it or not and we’re not the kind of people who would do that kind of thing.”

There is more detail in this Fox News report, where the restaurant’s manager is quoted. The manager backs Henry’s account and says the only point of contention during the lunch was that one of the men dining with Maxwell and the city councilman didn’t have a driver’s license so Henry would not serve him alcohol. The city councilman tried to intervene, allegedly telling the manager at one point who Maxwell was, and the matter was resolved by the person without I.D. not being served and the waiter being reassigned.

Maxwell’s account to TMZ, though not contradicted yesterday, was not as detailed as these reports. It would seem incumbent upon Maxwell and, possibly, the city councilman, who originally backed Maxwell’s story, to come forward and clarify.

It would be most unfortunate — and a very, very bad look for Maxwell — if it turns out that Maxwell’s story was made up.

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Tuesday, October 24: Last month Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell made news when he became the first baseball player to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality and in support of racial equality. We talked about the possible repercussions Maxwell may face in baseball as a result of that, but it seems he’s getting some blowback elsewhere: from a waiter at a restaurant in his hometown.

Maxwell told TMZ Sports that on his first day back home in Harvest, Alabama after the end of the season, a waiter at a restaurant refused to serve him because of his protest. Maxwell:

“He was like, ‘You’re the guy who took the knee? I voted for Trump and I stand for everything he stands for.'”

Maxwell and his dining companion, a local city councilman, complained to management and got a different server.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose, but this really creates problems for the people who claim to be fine with protests in theory but think that doing it at one’s place of work is a bad idea.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.