Craig Calcaterra

Spinal Tap But it goes to eleven

In the wake of the Kris Bryant demotion, Scott Boras’ vocabulary has gone to 11

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We all knew that Scott Boras was not going to be happy when his client, Kris Bryant, got sent down to the minors by the Cubs. Here are the quotes he gave to Jon Morosi of Fox this afternoon. They’re pretty fantastic:

That’s all pretty colorful. And, as we wait for ten-year veterans and union reps to wage CBA service time battle over a kid who has never played in the bigs (may be a long wait) let’s play some armchair Scott Boras psychology.

I know a lot of people who have good non-everyday vocabularies — people who know TONS of fancy or seldom-used words but usually manage to speak like normal humans in day-to-day conversations — but who tend to revert to larger, sometimes even clinical or technical words when they’re angry, upset or otherwise emotional, etc. Almost as a defense. They’re people who don’t lose their composure often, so in order to not lose it when they may be close to it, go sort of clinical with their bad selves.

I certainly do it a lot myself. I don’t raise my voice often, but I do sort of retreat to my left brain and start talking in stilted language with a lot of not-everyday words peppering my speech. Not big words. Nothing crazy-complicated. But just words you tend to read more than actually say. Things like “ersatz” and “apogee” for example! People who know me know that I’m pissed when I do that. They laugh their butts off at me when I do it too.

A lot of lawyers do this, actually. I’ve had bosses like this. Colleagues. I think it’s part of our training. I was certainly taught that if you’re the one screaming in an argument, you’re the one losing. Scott Boras is a lawyer. And he’s got more discipline than I or the lawyers I know have. Probably more than all of us put together. I bet he hasn’t raised his voice in anger in decades. But I also bet that that’s why we get the “ersatz” and “apogee” and “nonessential time awaiting” and all of that you see above.

Lawyers are taught another thing too. When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the law is on your side, argue the law. When neither is on your side, pound your fist on the table. Boras isn’t a fist-pounder, but he really has nothing better to do regarding Kris Bryant than pound his fist. And I bet he lectures anyone within earshot in the most hilariously stilted-language possible when he’s trying hard not to look like he’s pounding his fist.

Kevin Correia released by the Mariners

Kevin Correia
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The Mariners have released right hander Kevin Correia.

Correia just didn’t have a place in the M’s rotation given the presence of five dudes who are, well, better than Kevin Correia, and the 34-year-old was knocked around like crazy in three relief appearances since being signed earlier this month.

Two years ago the Twins gave Correia a two-year, $10 million deal and was awful in those two years. He was traded to the Dodgers late last season and posted an ugly 8.03 ERA in 25 innings.

Barring a team needing some cannon fodder after multiple injuries to starters, Correia may have reached the end of the line.

The Cubs assign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to the minors, option Javier Baez as well

Kris Bryant
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We figured this was coming, and here it is: the Chicago Cubs have announced that the have sent Kris Bryant to minor league camp. Shortstop prospect Addison Russell joins him. Also, in a moderate surprise, second baseman Javier Baez, who was on the 40-man roster and had 229 major league plate appearances last season, was optioned to Triple-A.

Bryant’s case has been much discussed. Though he destroyed minor league pitching last year and has hit nine home runs in 44 plate appearances this spring, the Cubs gain a huge financial advantage by keeping him in the minors to start the season, thereby keeping his service time clock from starting to tick. It seems likely that Bryant will, after a couple of weeks, make his major league debut.

Baez is a bit more of a surprise, as many assumed he would be the Cubs starting second baseman to start the season. He has, however, shown horrendous plate discipline so far in his career and has looked particularly lost this spring, striking out 20 times in 16 games and showing no suggestion that he has a plan when he comes up to the plate other than “swing hard and hope I make contact.”

Russell, a highly-regarded prospect who came to Chicago in the Jeff Samardzija trade last summer, has hit well this spring but doesn’t yet have a clear position with the big club given the presence of Starlin Castro. And he has barely played above Double-A yet.

All three of these guys figure in the future of the Chicago Cubs. But that future is not here just yet.

It’s OK for ballplayers to be friendly with one another. Really.

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Tom Gage of Fox Sports Detroit talks about something fun that happened in a game yesterday: Rajai Davis was joking with his friend, Phillies outfielder Ben Revere, before the game. Davis said that he needed some hits, so Revere shouldn’t try too hard if Davis hits one to the outfield. Later in the game, Revere robbed Davis of a homer and then there was a lot more smiling, laughing and friendly taunting. Fun, yes?

Well, maybe it’s problematic to some. As Gage notes, such “fraternization” was, at one time, something players avoided and something which you’d rarely see. You see it a lot more now. This sometimes bugs old school baseball types — Joe Torre famously lamented it a couple of years ago — and, even if Gage is OK with it now, he admits that it has taken him time to become OK with it.

Among players, however, this is hardly even a consideration anymore. Sure, there are intense pitcher-batter interactions and sometimes teams get chippy with one another based on specific incidents, but they’re pretty rare. Pitchers and batters may always speak different languages to some degree anyway. For the most part, though, players have crossed paths in the past and like their fellow major leaguers. It’s so common that baseball is considering axing the rule on the books that bans fraternization. Yes, such a rule actually still exists.

Whatever the custom or rule is, I have a hard time getting on board with any mindset which holds that it’s not right to be friendly with people. At least absent serious reason. Being friendly is a good thing. It can make life more enjoyable. More people should actually try it.

MLB owns a stake in daily fantasy sports

Money Bag
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You may be familiar with the relatively new business segment of daily fantasy sports. Run by companies such as FanDuel* or DraftKings, players of daily fantasy draft a team of actual athletes who then score fantasy points according to set scoring rules specific to the site. As far as that goes, it’s just like regular fantasy sports.

The difference: instead of having your team all season and trading with other players in a league, the daily fantasy sports player plays his team for just one day. Generally, you pay an entry fee or set up an account and collect winnings at the end of the day. In this way it has an awful lot in common with sports gambling but, based on certain rules and definitions contained in federal law, it is not classified as gambling. It’s legal in 45 states as well. While the segment was just invented in 2009, it’s a huge, huge business which is growing rapidly. At present, Over 3 million people play daily fantasy games.

Sports leagues have taken notice. And not, as one may have assumed several years ago, because it has some elements of gambling to it and the leagues view it as a threat. Rather, the leagues have viewed it as a hot business with which to get involved. From the Washington Post:

In 2013, with no fanfare, Major League Baseball purchased a financial stake in DraftKings. Last summer, the NBA announced a partnership with FanDuel that, according to a person familiar with the terms, gave the league an ownership stake greater than 2.5 percent of the company.

Which means when you plunk down your money on a FanDuel fantasy contest, a small portion trickles back to the real league.

The article quotes one sports law expert as saying “Depending on how broad your definition of gambling is the NBA runs a sports book.”

Maybe that’s putting it too strongly — again, federal law views this differently because actual game outcomes are not wagered on, even if individual performances are, however indirectly. But it is an interesting development, particularly for baseball, which has always been way, way, way more wary of gambling than any other sport.

Just another data point to throw into the general conversation about baseball and gambling. A conversation which seems to come up more and more often these days. And one which, it seems, is turning away from the idea of sports leagues keeping gambling away and more towards figuring out how to get in on some of the action.

*Full disclosure: NBC has an ownership interest in FanDuel and FanDuel has, in the past, advertised on HardballTalk and other NBC Sports sites.