Strange rumblings in Los Angeles

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I got off an airplane about a half hour ago after taking a red eye flight back to Ohio from Los Angeles, where I spent the weekend. Because I don’t sleep well on airplanes, today is going to be … something less than lucid.

Anyway, the purpose of my trip was not baseball, but I had a couple of baseball observations I’ll share simply because reading more about Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki seems daunting on as little sleep as I am operating:

I was in a drinking establishment taking my refreshment one evening and the bartender, noting my baseball cap, began to discuss baseball with me. He is a native of L.A. and a life-long Dodgers fan, so I asked him what he felt about Magic Johnson and all of that.  He was happy about it, of course, but he said it was no big deal.

“How do you mean?” I said. “Seems like a big deal to me.”

“Ah, they were going to be OK anyway,” he said.

“You think so?”

“Sure,” he said. “They’re the Dodgers.”

In that I think there is some essential essence of fandom that I don’t think about very often. It’s not … rational.  And that’s probably good for most franchises, frankly.

The second baseball observation of the weekend came when I was driving around, and it involved billboards. I noticed one of those “El Hombre” billboards with Albert Pujols on it. I thought those were taken down because Pujols hated them, but I guess not.

I also noticed way more Dodgers billboards then I ever remember seeing. They were cool, with pictures of old Dodgers sort of morphing into current ones.  Think Maury Wills-to-Davey Lopes-to-Dee-Gordon. There was one with sluggers too, resulting in Matt Kemp but I didn’t see who the other guys were because I was driving and driving in Los Angeles terrifies me.

Finally: I didn’t win the Mega Millions on Friday night, but know that if I did (a) I’d still keep blogging here because it’s fun; but (b) I’d probably be doing it from a house on a beach not unlike this one I was gawking at yesterday. When you get a chance, someone remind why I live in Ohio again.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.