Is baseball an inherently conservative sport?

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The Daily Caller spoke with a bunch of conservative writers who identify themselves as serious baseball fans and asked them “what draws the conservative mind to the sport.”

Among the responders were Fred Schwarz, Daniel Foster and Rich Lowry of National review, Charles Krauthammer and they threw in some older quotes from George Will for spice. The upshot: baseball is slow, it doesn’t change much and, according to Schwarz anyway, “it has
more of a laws-and-not-men vibe, in the sense that penalties or fouls
or violations called by officials play a much smaller role in baseball
than they do in football, basketball, or hockey.”

Not sure I buy that last one inasmuch as every single pitch in baseball entails a judgment call that is subjective in practice, even if it isn’t in theory.  But yeah, I’ve heard all of these things before as I’m sure some of the rest of you have too.

Here’s my thing on baseball and politics: it’s an almost total escape from that stuff.  Sure, there are some political considerations that go into how you feel about labor issues, finances and maybe even PEDs, but as far as the game itself is concerned, politics is almost wholly irrelevant, at least compared to almost any other walk of life.

It’s anecdotal, but here’s an example: While I greatly exaggerate my flamin’ pink liberalness for comedic effect at times, I’m definitely a lefty on most issues. It’s just how I roll. The Baseball Crank, Dan McLaughlin, is about the staunchest conservative who has ever crossed my path in the baseball world. We both get political on Twitter from time to time (he has a far more professional interest in it than I do, however) and I dare say we disagree about 95% of the time when it comes to politics and policy and stuff. Add this to the mix: he’s a Mets fan.

But he’s a baseball fan and I’m a baseball fan. He’s also a baseball analyst whose analysis I agree with approximately 95% of the time. I’ve never met him in person, but I am certain that if he and I went to a ballgame together we’d have a hell of a time. At least if we made a rule not to talk about mosque location theory, tax policy, gay marriage and stuff like that.

Which is to say that I don’t think baseball lends itself to the conservative disposition or the liberal disposition any more so than it does the other. To the extent anyone thinks it does, they’re likely the kind of person who strains to see the political in everything, and those people are freakin’ nuts to begin with.

Like the man said: “it’s our game. The American, Asian and increasingly European game.”  Well, he didn’t say that, actually, but he would today because, while partisans of every stripe like to claim that they’re truly speaking for the masses, baseball is the biggest damn tent there is.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.