“Get rid of Braun?” Yeah, sure, OK

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The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s editorial about the Ryan Braun stuff is hilarious. And not just for this part, which suggests that Ryan Braun’s PED use has been so pervasive that it has given him the ability to fly:

Braun is paying a pittance to leave one of the worst teams in the majors for a few months to work out in the comfort of California’s azure skies.

I picture him doing ab crunches on a cloud.

No, the really silly part of it is the editorial’s main argument: Brewers owner Mark Attanasio should simply make Ryan Braun go away:

Ryan Braun has to go.

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has an opportunity to make the most powerful statement any owner has ever made about what the game of baseball should be and what it should not be. Attanasio can make a statement that would reverberate across the many other venues of professional sports infected by the plague of doping … Attanasio has a chance to make the Milwaukee Brewers franchise an example for the rest of professional sports: He can do that by getting rid of Ryan Braun.

Nowhere do the J-S’s editors say how Attanasio should “get rid” of Braun. If they had bothered to consult the many able members of their sports department they would have realized that the only way to do that is to release him. In which case they would still owe him all of the money remaining on his contract and that Braun would be able to sign on as a free agent with any team in baseball for the major league minimum salary.

You don’t think the Cubs or Cardinals or Reds would pay a few hundred grand to Braun next year? Indeed, I can’t think of a single team in the major leagues that wouldn’t at that price, PED taint or no. It would be quite the scene, though, if he joined an NL Central team and hit against a punchless Brewers team for the next five or six years.

But of course this is the logical conclusion of a culture in which treating drug offenders in baseball as something worse than mere drug offenders is the order of the day. Acting as if this is some grand opera instead of a sport with a disciplinary system that is working pretty well, actually, and which takes players from their teams and allows them to return after they’ve paid their price. Major League Baseball is not tough enough to police itself, these people implicitly believe, so the league requires their superior moral insight to tell them what they should really do.

Except most of the people doing this don’t understand the sport at all and have lost all perspective with respect to the issue.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?