Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Jason Groome, a New Jersey high school pitcher who is considered the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in this year’s draft, will not be pitching for his high school team for a while. He was ruled ineligible by the body which governs high school athletics in New Jersey for violating transfer rules.
Groome pitched last year at at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which is basically a boarding school for sports prospects. His family didn’t change permanent addresses, however, and he decided that he wanted to pitch this year back home with his high school friends rather than return to IMG. For these purposes, the governing board ruled that he hadn’t transferred the same way that a kid who simply moved did and thus he was required to sit out half the season. He didn’t do that, and now he’s ineligible and his records on the year have been erased, including a 19-strikeout, 90-pitch no-hitter he threw this past Monday. He can return once he has missed half of his team’s games.
I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, it’s lame that a kid can’t play baseball. On the other hand, parents of elite athletes have to have some sort of check on them because, if given the chance, they would absolutely switch their kids from school to school each year if doing so maximized their kids’ athletic opportunities. Sports parents are pretty terrible when given the chance to be. It’s also worth noting that the main voice speaking up in the kids’ defense is an agent. There are a lot of interests behind Groome who aren’t involved here simply because a boy wants to play with his friends.
Ultimately this probably won’t matter a ton. Groome is six-foot, five inches, throws a 97 mph fastball and has a plus curveball. He was ranked as the No. 1 overall draft prospect last month by Baseball America. That shouldn’t change.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that Jim Leyland will manage the U.S. team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. His coaching staff will consist of his long-time associates and assistants: Jeff Jones, Marcel Lachemann, Lloyd McClendon, Willie Randolph, and Alan Trammell.
Leyland has been out of the managing game since the end of the 2013 season, but he has certainly kept a hand in the game. He scouts and does special assignments for the Tigers and can be seen at spring training and most of baseball’s major events. He’s definitely not checked out in retirement.
Leyland’s predecessors as U.S. team WBC managers are Buck Martinez (2006); Davey Johnson (2009); and Joe Torre (2013). The United States has never won the WBC. Japan won the first two finals, the Dominican Republic the most recent.
We wrote recently about the controversy over Mike Piazza’s jersey from the Mets’ first game back after 9/11. The one in which he hit his iconic, career-defining home run. The one which, for reasons unknown, the Mets decided to sell to some random collector a few years ago and then, in recent weeks, found itself up for auction, much to the chagrin of Piazza and his family.
Well, the controversy is over. The New York Post reports that it has been purchased by three of the Mets’ minority owners, who plan to display it in three places on a rotating basis: Citi Field, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The minority owners: Anthony Scaramucci, who is also a Fox Business host, Tony Lauto and an anonymous third partner, who yesterday agreed to a deal to buy the jersey for $365,000. They have no control over the Mets, by the way. The Post describes their interest in the team as a “slice,” which suggests some relatively small vanity equity interest.
Glad to see this story have a happy ending.