Agent angry at A’s over failed Hisashi Iwakuma negotiations

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Throughout the 30-day window for the A’s to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma agent Don Nomura criticized the team via Twitter and now that the window has closed without a contract being signed his criticisms are even more plentiful.

Nomura told the Associated Press that the A’s “never showed any respect” and “their offer was low and they weren’t sincere.”

It’s easy to paint the A’s as the bad guys and it wouldn’t be surprising if they were less than ultra-motivated to work out a contract that wasn’t favorable to them, but the “posting system” for Japanese players is more to blame and Nomura’s reported asking price for Iwakuma was also significantly above the precedents established by previous Japanese players coming to MLB.

Oakland bid $19.1 million for the exclusive negotiating rights to Iwakuma and the money was refunded when the two sides were unable to work out a deal. From the A’s point of view they took a headline-grabbing flier on a player they liked, couldn’t come to an agreement, and moved on with their lives. From Iwakuma’s point of view his plans were ruined and he now heads back to Japan for another season, but the system working that way isn’t the A’s fault.

Beyond that, previous Japanese players signing with MLB teams have agreed to contracts roughly equal to the posting fee. Oakland offered Iwakuma a four-year, $15.25 million contract that was slightly below the $19.1 million bid, but Nomura was reportedly asking for a three-year deal worth at least $35 million. In terms of following precedent, the A’s offer was much closer to the norm than Nomura’s demands.

Mike Piazza presided over the destruction of a 100-year-old soccer team

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Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in January of 2016 and inducted in July of 2016. In between those dates he purchased an Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana 1919, a member of Italy’s third division. In June of that year he was greeted as a savior in Reggio Emilia, the small Italian town in which the team played. He was the big American sports star who was going to restore the venerable club to its past and rightful place of glory.

There were suggestions by last March that things weren’t going well, but know we know that in less than two years it all fell apart. Piazza and his wife Alicia presided over a hot mess of a business, losing millions of dollars and, this past June, they abruptly liquidated the club. It is now defunct — one year short of its centennial — and a semipro team is playing in its place, trying to acquire the naming rights from Piazza as it wends its way though bankruptcy.

Today at The Athletic, Robert Andrew Powell has a fascinating — no, make that outrageously entertaining — story of how that all went down from the perspective of the Piazzas. Mostly Alicia Piazza who ran the team in its second year when Mike realized he was in over his head. She is . . . something. Her quotes alone are worth the price of admission. For example:

Alicia, who refers to Mike’s ownership dream as “his midlife crisis,” offered up a counter argument.

“Who the f**k ever heard of Reggio Emilia?” she asked. “It’s not Venice. It’s not Rome. My girlfriend said, and you can quote this—and this really depressed me. She said, ‘Honey, you bought into Pittsburgh.’ Like, it wasn’t the New York Yankees. It wasn’t the Mets. It wasn’t the Dodgers. You bought Pittsburgh!”

In their Miami living room, Mike tried to interject but she stopped him.

“And imagine what that feels like, after spending 10 million euros. You bought Pittsburgh!”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Piazza is from Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania to be sure, but still.

Shockingly, it didn’t end all that well for the Piazzas in Reggio Emilia:

One week later, the Piazzas returned to Reggio Emilia, and were spotted at the team offices. More than a hundred ultras marched into the office parking lot, chanting and demanding answers. Carabinieri—national police aligned with the military—showed up for the Piazzas’ safety. The police advised the Americans to avoid the front door of the complex and exit through the back. Mike assured them it wouldn’t be necessary—he had always enjoyed a good relationship with the fans.

The carabinieri informed him that the relationship had changed. The Piazzas slipped out the back door, under police escort.

The must-read of the week. Maybe the month. Hell, maybe the year. The only thing I can imagine topping it is if someone can tell this story from the perspective of the people in Reggio Emilia. I’m guessing their take is a bit different than the Piazzas.