Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.
The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.
To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.
Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made history today, hitting his 49th and 50th home runs, tying and then breaking the rookie record previously held by Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics.
Judge’s first dinger came in the third inning of this afternoon’s Royals-Yankees tilt. It was the sixth pitch from Jake Junis and left via right field. His second came in the bottom of the seventh against Trevor Cahill.
McGwire set his record in 1987, needing 151 games to do it. Judge hit his 50th in his 150th game of the season. He has five more games after today to add to that mark. Through his latest at bat in this game Judge is hitting .283/.417/.620 on the year with 50 HR, 108 RBI, 124 runs scored and 119 walks. Given Judge’s strong finish to the season, the AL MVP race should come down to a contest between him and Jose Altuve. It’s hard to argue against either one.
Here’s Judge’s first bomb:
And here’s the second:
Yasiel Puig sat out of yesterday’s Dodgers victory over the Giants. Most people assumed it was to rest an ankle Puig said was gimpy after Saturday night’s game. Turns out not to be the case. Dave Roberts benched him, upset that he didn’t slide into second base on the caught-stealing that ended Saturday night’s game. A non-slide Puig said was due to feeling pain in his ankle.
J.P. Hoornstra’s story at the OC Register from yesterday, however, reveals that this is really about Roberts being displeased with Puig’s effort. Which is something of a surprise, as this season has featured an allegedly reformed Yasiel Puig. He’s stayed in the lineup, worked hard on defense, has avoided his usual number of boneheaded mistakes and has not appeared to raise the ire of his teammates as he has in year’s past.
As Hoornstra’s story makes clear, though, it has not been quite as smooth as portrayed, with Roberts saying “[t]here’s been some things that, when you look back, I’ve kept notes of . . . You have to have trust in all your players.”
The playoffs start for the Dodgers in a little over a week. Not the time of year that you’d want, or expect, there to be clubhouse discord. Whether this is a two-day nothingburger or something that lasts a bit longer remains to be seen.