It's a Dirtbag world

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It got lost a bit in all the playoff excitement the last couple of days, but I spotted an interesting story in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, which pointed out the amazing baseball pipeline at Long Beach State.

According to the story, Long Beach State had 17 players compete in the major leagues this season, more than any other school.

What is also impressive is the quality of Dirtbags — err, players — on the list, as the group includes All-Stars Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria.

Interestingly, according to Baseball-reference, Long Beach State has had only 33 players play in the big leagues overall, so the impressive run is a recent phenomenon.

The honor for most big leaguers in MLB history goes to the University of Texas with 100 (Roger Clemens, Huston Street, etc), followed by Arizona State (98, Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Dustin Pedroia), and Stanford (82, Mike Mussina, Bob Boone).

But for now, it’s a Long Beach world.

It isn’t a stretch to say the parade won’t stop any time soon, either. Third baseman Adam Heether, outfielder Shane Peterson, shortstop Devon Lohman, and pitchers Jarad Hughes, Nick Vincent, Andrew Liebel, Bryan Shaw, Adam Wilk, Charlie Ruiz and Jake Thompson are all performing well enough in the minors to warrant an eventual shot at the majors.

Hail, Dirtbags!

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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.