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

18 Comments

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.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

Getty Images
14 Comments

The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?