What we're watching – May 29

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– After nine straight losses on the road, the Blue Jays finally return
home tonight. Unfortunately, they’ll be facing the Red Sox, who started
off Toronto’s losing streak with a three-game sweep at Fenway last
week. The winning pitcher in the first game of that series, Tim
Wakefield, will be back on the mound for this one. He allowed one run
over eight innings in his previous start against the Jays, and he’s 6-2
with a 3.99 ERA for the season, making him Boston’s most effective
pitcher so far. The Blue Jays will give Casey Janssen his second start
of the year. Janssen, making his way back from shoulder surgery,
allowed three runs over six innings in a loss to Atlanta six days ago.

– The surging Yankees will start a series tonight in Cleveland,
where the Indians just pulled off a four-game sweep of the Rays. Andy
Pettitte gets the nod for the Yankees against one of only two AL teams
he’s under .500 against in his career (Seattle being the other). The
Indians will go to Cliff Lee, who beat the Yankees on April 16 for one
of his two victories so far this season. Aside from that game, which
Cleveland won 10-2, the Indians have totaled 19 runs in Lee’s nine
starts.

Game of the Night

St. Louis vs. San Francisco – A pair of five-game winners will
square off in San Francisco, with Joel Pineiro going against Matt Cain.
Pineiro is inducing grounders at a league-best rate, but he’s lost four
of his last five starts anyway, partly due to poor run support. He has
a shutout and five other quality starts in nine trips to the mound this
season. Cain has won his last two outings and has seven quality starts
to his credit. However, he is 0-1 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts
against the Cardinals. Albert Pujols has a homer and a double in five
career at-bats against him.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.