Royals eye new way to go downhill: bobsled!

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bloomquist-royals_100609.jpgI guess when you play long enough for the Kansas City Royals, you start to think about undertaking more enjoyable career paths.

Case in point: Willie Bloomquist and Jason Kendall want to be Olympic bobsledders. I’m not kidding. Rustin Dodd Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star has all the information in his blog.

In fact, Dodd Mellinger went so far as to call U.S. Olympic bobsled coach Brian Shimer to tell him about the players’ interest, then passed on Shimer’s phone number to Bloomquist. Shimer sounded less than enthused, citing concerns over the players’ age (Bloomquist is 32, Kendall 35) and speed.

Me: Yea, so the coach said if you guys ever wanted to go for a ride, he’d be more than happy to take you guys.

Bloomquist: I don’t want to ride, I want to drive the thing.

So the conversation went on for another minute. I told Bloomquist the coach was a little concerned about their ages. (Bloomquist is 32 and Kendall is 35).

And I said that coach Shimer said most of the top bobsledders start in their early 20s.

Bloomquist: We’d dominate the 22 year olds.

You’ve got to love Bloomquist’s moxie. It’s probably the biggest reason he’s stuck in the majors for nine seasons despite having a light bat and sub-par glove (yes, he plays a lot of positions, but is not particularly good at any of them).

He does have wheels, but I can’t see either Bloomquist or Kendall being able to give a bobsled much push. Bobsledders tend to be big strong dudes. For example, Steve Holcomb, who piloted the U.S. four-man team to the gold medal in Vancouver, is listed at 5-10, 230 pounds. (Bloomquist is generously listed as 5-11, 195, Kendall at 6-0, 190.)

That being said, when you’re putting together a .200/.258/.367 line the way Bloomquist is, maybe the bobsled starts looking pretty easy.

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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.