Playing pro baseball is good for your social life

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Doug Glanville was merely a decent outfielder during his nine-year career with the Phillies, Cubs, and Rangers, but since retiring following the 2004 season he’s become an excellent writer for the New York Times.
In the wake of the whole Tiger Woods “situation” Glanville’s latest column describes how signing a professional contract instantly transformed him from “kind of nerdy” in high school to someone who had little trouble attracting women. You should really read the whole piece, because Glanville is willing to share plenty of personal details in addition to being a smart, compelling writer, but here are a couple particularly interesting excerpts:

I was a diligent student, kind of nerdy, the son of a teacher, and as interested in baseball and computers as I was in girls. Still, I was told I had potential in the social department, if I applied myself. But something magical happened before I had to do much work. I signed a professional baseball contract as a junior in college and went away to my first spring training as a member of the Chicago Cubs organization.



[…]



Because I had a few shells to bust out of, I put my toe in that party water, too. I was just 20 when I was drafted and it didn’t take long to understand that a new kind of woman was interested in me: the sort of woman who in the past had stirred my insecurity. It was like a kid finding Batman’s belt in the lost and found. No point in giving it back until you’ve tried all your new powers. But we forget to ask, will I be able to stop once I’ve tasted these powers?

My problem? I don’t even have a belt.

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.