Tom Ricketts distances the Cubs from the anti-Obama campaign presented to his father

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Followup from this morning’s New York Times story about Joe Ricketts being pitched to bankroll that anti-Obama campaign.  Son Tom, chairman of the Cubs, issued a statement:

“As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year’s presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has,” Tom Ricketts said in the statement. “I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen.”

I assume that “like my father has” line means that he believes his father has repudiated such politics. Which, while he is now said to have rejected that “extremely literate” black man thing mentioned this morning, he hasn’t done. The Times still reports him to be “entertaining” it and any number of other initiatives. We’ll see when Joe Ricketts either speaks or acts.*

Also notable, Tom’s sister and Joe’s daughter Laura Ricketts is a big Obama donor. She issued a statement too, supporting both Obama and her father, even if she disagrees with his politics.

I think the absolutely most notable thing about all of this is that what seems to be driving the statements the most is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s angry reaction to the Times story this morning. Apparently, as the city is in talks with the Cubs about Wrigley Field renovations, Emmanuel was none too pleased to hear that the Cubs’ patriarch is going after Emmanuel’s old boss.

Which, while understandable, is reason number 1,456 against public funding for ballparks.  If you pay your own way, you don’t have to care a lick of what partisan politicians — especially the hotheaded ones — feel about your views on the world, and then you don’t have to issue statements like Tom Ricketts just had to.

*Also, can we dispense with the notion that Joe Ricketts had no intention whatsoever in bankrolling a campaign intended to smear Obama personally? This was a slick 54-page proposal accompanied by a personal presentation. One doesn’t come off the street and pitch that kind of thing cold like Fuller brushes or Kirby vacuums. Such proposals are requested and such requests have guidelines about what they’re looking for.  I’m assuming Ricketts didn’t ask for the stuff about “an extremely literate” black man, but unless the political operatives who pitched it were the worst ever at their job, they were certainly delivering to Ricketts something in the ballpark of what he wanted to see.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.