Eagle-eyed do-gooders turn in Reds for victory cigars

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The Cincinnati Reds had one heckuva celebration after clinching the NL Central title on Tuesday night, dowsing each other with champagne and emerging from the clubhouse to party with fans.

(Watch some great video of it all from C. Trent Rosecrans here)

But apparently their celebration went far beyond the bounds of propriety, as team owner Bob Castellini passed out victory cigars and people proceeded to – gasp! – smoke them.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer – and Big League Stew – five people called a statewide smoking ban complaint hotline to alert authorities after witnessing the heinous act on television.

Only one problem: the city health department can’t do anything unless an inspector personally witnesses the crime in action. Hmm, that might be a problem. From the Enquirer:

State law requires a health inspector to go out within 30 days at about the same time of day as the alleged violation, Merz said. That means an inspector might be attending one of the playoff games to see if anyone is smoking then.

“We come in unannounced, obviously,” he said.

If the inspector sees someone smoking, the Reds will be sent a letter notifying them of the violation, which the team can appeal. No fine is attached to any initial violation. If another complaint is filed and an inspector responds again to the ballpark and sees someone smoking, the Reds could be fined $100. The fine escalates to $500 after that.

So be aware, Reds criminals, you have been put on notice. If you get caught smoking any victory cigars during the playoffs, you’ll receive a stern letter. And if it happens a second time, someone will have to come up with $100.

God knows the shenanigans you will get into if you win the World Series.

Will you double-dip some chips?

Lie about your knowledge of “Melrose Place?”

Smuggle coffee into the movies?

Whatever you do, I am thankful I can sleep at night knowing there are at least five eagle-eyed, law-abiding citizens out there ready to turn you in.

Do you think I was serious about thinking the Reds are criminals? Then perhaps I’m not for you. Otherwise, feel free to follow me on Twitter. Get all your HBT updates here.

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.