Billy Beane almost missed Braden's perfect game

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Billy Beane headshot.jpgI didn’t know that Dallas Braden had a perfect game going until the
eighth inning when I checked Twitter and saw everyone yammering about
it. But hey, I was busy with family stuff and was monitoring a bunch of
games yesterday afternoon, so I can be excused for only seeing the eighth and ninth innings. If I worked for the Athletics, of course, I’d have seen the whole thing.

Or, maybe I wouldn’t have. Billy Beane is the team’s GM and is a minority owner, so you’d figure that he’d see it all. You’d figure wrong, however, because he almost missed it.

Usually general managers watch games from the team box, but anyone who read Moneyball knows, Athletics’ GM Billy Beane works out during the game, sometimes not even watching it. Ken Rosenthal reports that was basically the case yesterday, as Beane had the raw feed of the game on with no sound and no stats graphics as he listened to a soccer game on his iPod and ran on a treadmill. It wasn’t until the ninth inning that he knew — after asking the guy on the treadmill next to him — that Braden had a perfect game.

Not that he was alone in not paying much attention.  Only 12,228 fans were in the seats at the Coliseum for the perfecto. Though if form holds for these kinds of things, a good 50-60,000 people will tell their friends they were there.

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.