Twins to give away souvenir glorifying blatant cheating awful underhanded play*

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I think approximately 500 people sent me links to the pic of this Kent Hrbek-Ron Gant bobblehead when it started making the rounds a couple of weeks ago.  I held off writing about it because it’s not good to blog angry, but now the Twins have officially announced it as a promotion, so what the heck:

The giveaway comes on the first day of what is being billed as “1991 World Series Champs Reunion Weekend,” marking the title-winning team’s 20th anniversary.

Hrbek, the former Twins first baseman, and Atlanta’s Gant got tangled up in a play during the World Series that led to the base runner being called out as he rounded first and was retreating back to the base. Unsettled all these years is whether Hrbek unfairly overpowered Gant on the play.

Unsettled? Unsettled?!! Close study of the footage of that play reveals that not only did Hrbek physically remove Gant from the bag in order to tag him out, but that he used close-melee weapons to do so. He then proceeded to punch him, kick him, sleep with is wife and then burn down Gant’s mother’s house.  Don’t try to Google that stuff though. The Twins Industrial Complex has had it scrubbed from most websites because that’s just how they roll.

Really, though, this is the worst part of it all:

Braves director of public relations Beth Marshall said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune that “we begrudgingly gave our approval [to the design] because, although it wasn’t a great moment in Braves history, it was for the Twins!”

You see? Their reach is nearly unlimited. They have successfully planted a mole within the Braves power structure working to bring it down from the inside.  Like most right-thinking people I’m normally against half-crazed purges of suspected traitors within respectable organizations, but in this case I will make an exception. Whatever is behind this conspiracy makes the Illuminati look like women’s auxiliary of the local Lions Club and its malevolence must be stopped.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to track down that picture I saw one time of Jack Morris doctoring Game 7 baseballs with Dapper Dan Pomade and I need to finish the elaborate diagram I’ve been working on that explains how Lonnie Smith owed Kirby Puckett millions in gambling debts, thereby leading to a certain base running “gaffe.”

 

*I consulted Gleeman on the headline. He preferred “blatant cheating fantastic underhanded play.*

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

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Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.