Brian Bannister is AWOL from the Yomiuri Giants

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Weird story involving former Royals pitcher Brian Bannister. Banny left the majors after last season and signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of the NPB.  When the earthquake hit he, like a lot of gaijin left Japan to be with their families and get the hell out of the way of rescue and recovery efforts.  Most who did so asked permission first. Most who did so have since come back, seeing as the season has gotten underway.  Not Bannister. He just up and left and hasn’t come back.

As a result, the Giants have put him on the restricted list and his future in baseball is in doubt. He wasn’t reached for comment in the article. And though it is reported in the article that Bannister told the Giants he’d rather retire than return to Japan, the team denies that such discussions took place.

This could be a rather ignominious end to what has been a fairly interesting baseball career.

Fox, MLB sign broadcast rights extension through 2028

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FOX Sports and Major League Baseball announced a few minutes ago that they have agreed to a multi-year broadcast rights extension. The deal keeps Fox as the lead MLB rights holder, and home of the World Series, All-Star Game and a good chunk of the playoffs through at least 2028.

While the press release does not announce the financial terms, Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that it will pay Major League Baseball about 30-40% more than the previous contract. While ratings are not what they used to be, it would seem that the eyeballs Fox is getting are more valuable to it.

UPDATE: That bump is actually even bigger:

For the time being, things will look very much like they do now. Starting in 2022, there will be more games broadcast. There are no specifics about how many more. The release says “FOX Sports will also expand its digital rights,” but again, no specifics on what that means, exactly.

FOX Sports has been a baseball rights-holder since 1996 and has been the exclusive national non-cable rights holder since 2001. That’s gonna continue for at least another decade.