How is the league going to crack down on “mystery team” reports?

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In addition to shortening the period in which a free agent’s current team gets exclusive negotiation rights, the September agreement between the union and the league sought to impose “restrictions on the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.”

What that means is anyone’s guess. I assumed it was aspirational more than anything else because, really, how is the league going to stop an agent or an assistant GM or whatever from texting a reporter about this, that or the other? If the policy does anything it will only make matters worse. Instead of having a bunch of anonymous stories coming from “a team source” or “a league source” you’ll simply have a lot more 100% unsourced stories or, at the most, stories that cite “sources.”

Which, while a problem when the story is about sensitive or important topics, isn’t something I care all that much about when it comes to silly things like free agent rumors. Those are ephemeral, relatively unimportant and more fun than anything else. And, ultimately, if a reporter or a blogger constantly whiffs on such rumors, people will ignore them anyway. It’s kind of self-policing in that regard. The league cares, though, and I don’t know that they’ll be happy with what results of their new policy.

But no matter how little the policy helps, it’s already a worthy one, because it gave Buster Olney a chance to use it as a means of slamming my buddy Jon Heyman.  From Buster’s column this morning:

And the mechanism by which the Players Association and MLB would investigate media leaks is unknown; maybe these are rules put in place that both sides want the participants to enforce on their own, like an honor code. Maybe the greatest indication that we would see that the rules are actually working would be if we never see another “mystery team” tied to a Scott Boras client.

Rowr.

The 2019 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this evening

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This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released just over two months ago. This evening at 6:15 PM Eastern, all of the arguing stops. Well, actually, it doesn’t stop, because it never stops. Not really. It just transforms into something more pointless, because as of then, the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced live on MLB Network.

The entire ballot can be found here. Two weeks ago I went through it, candidate-by-candidate, in order to determine who I would vote for if, in fact, I had a vote. For what it’s worth, I ended up with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez. and Scott Rolen.

No, not all of those guys will be elected. I strongly suspect we’ll get three, with an outside chance at a fourth. Based on the best Hall of Fame voting tracker out there, Mariano Rivera is a lock. So too, it seems, is Roy Halladay. Edgar Martinez — on the ballot for is tenth and final time — likewise seems to have the support to finally make it. He was 20 votes short last year and, so far, he has picked up more than 20 new votes among voters who have revealed their ballots. Assuming that previous Martinez voters who have not released their ballots do not backtrack — a safe assumption — Edgar should, at long last, finally make it into Cooperstown.

The last guy who, at present, is trending above the required 75% is Mike Mussina who, at present, is included on 81% of public ballots. There is a tendency for the non-public voters to be stingier with their support, however, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Mussina will fall just under the threshold and will find himself back on the ballot next year. A jump from last year’s 63.5% support to something in the 70s, however, would bode very well for his 2020 chances. If he somehow makes it this year’s class will rival last year’s four-person BBWAA-elected class as one of the better ones in living memory.

Who will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith on the stage in Cooperstown in July? We find out this evening, just after 6 PM.