Tony Gwynn discusses his recovery from cancer

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Tony Gwynn recently discussed his recovery from cancer with Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

As you may remember, the Hall of Famer was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland last August. We learned last month that radiation and chemotherapy forced him to use a walker to get around, but Gwynn tells Hernandez that surgery to remove a tumor also resulted in paralysis of the right side of his face, complicating his ability to smile, laugh or blink with his right eye. Gywnn estimates that he lost about 85 pounds during treatment.

“Baseball-wise, I knew if I put in the work I was going to get results,” Gwynn said. “Not knowing how it’s going to turn out, that’s the hard part. After being in control 20 years of your career and in nine years of coaching, now you ain’t in control anymore.”

The good news is that Gwynn told Hernandez that “things are about back to normal.” He has begun a workout program and recently underwent surgery to correct a back issue that has bothered him for over a year and a half. Earlier this week, he returned to his office at his alma mater San Diego State, where he has been the baseball coach since 2001. Gwynn plans to be on the bench when the team opens their season on February 18. He also intends to return to the broadcast booth for Padres games this season.

“I haven’t had any setbacks whatsoever,” Gwynn said. “I’m getting control of my face again.”

If there’s any story you read today, make sure it’s this one.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?