Jeff Moorad withdraws his application to take over the Padres

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Former agent Jeff Moorad agreed to purchase the Padres from John Moores several years ago. The sale was to be in phases, with Moores maintaining control of the team until Moorad’s stake grew to where he would eventually be approved as the controlling party in the eyes of MLB.

Back in January, however, the owners delayed a vote on Moorad’s application, angering Moores and Moorad. There was no official explanation, but some reports suggested that Major League Baseball was concerned about the financial viability of Mooard’s ownership group. Specifically, his minority owners.

Today, Bud Selig released this statement:

“I have spoken with San Diego Padres Chairman John Moores and Vice Chairman/CEO Jeff Moorad.  They have informed me that Jeff is withdrawing his control transfer application of the Padres at this time in order to focus on completing the club’s local television contract.  I am pleased that John and Jeff are working on ensuring that the club’s games will be televised this season and beyond, and I know that they are acting in the best interests of Baseball, the franchise and the great fans of San Diego.”

Smells like a cover story. For one thing, most reports had that TV deal being done, so what the heck is Moorad needed for in that capacity?  But more generally, it sounds like the league was going to continue to give Mooard’s application grief, and that this is a nice way for him to bow out without being formally rejected.

What to make of this?  Well, if this is really a case of the league being skeptical of the finances of Mooard’s group, I suppose it’s a good thing insofar as it could signal the end of the era in which guys like, oh, Frank McCourt are allowed to buy in even if they don’t have the dough to do it.  It would be frustrating, sure, because the league has had years to consider Moorad’s bid, but if it’s about finances, it’s defensible.

The cynical part of me wonders if something else is going on. If Moorad’s history as a super agent — and thus, by definition, a former adversary of several of the guys who still own major league teams — played a part.  Could they be that petty and not be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a guy who used to be on the other side in the old, warring labor days? We’ll probably never know for sure. Baseball keeps this business close to the vest.

All we do know is that, as of now, we can add the Padres to the growing list of major league teams with some sort of strife in terms of ownership and future.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.