It’s quite a litigious day around Major League Baseball. First A-Rod, now Albert Pujols:
Former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is suing former Cardinals star Jack Clark over comments Clark made accusing Pujols of using steroids. The suit was filed Friday in St. Louis County.
You’ll recall that Clark accused Pujols of using steroids on Clark’s short-lived radio show back in August. His claim at the time was that Pujols’ trainer, Chris Mihlfeld told Clark about Pujols’ alleged steroid use while Clark and Mihlfeld were both on staff in the late 1990s with the Los Angels Dodgers. Mihfeld denied Clark’s claims about any such conversations and Pujols has vehemently denied steroid use. Clark and his co-host were fired after the incident.
As I’ve explained at length in the past, there is a lot to lose when you sue for defamation, even if you are telling the truth and even if the defendant is lying. As such, many public figures like Pujols let such things pass than to go through the expense and hassle of filing suit.
Pujols, however, obviously feels strongly about this. And if Clark has spread malicious lies about him, it’s completely understandable that he’d sue, even though success is not guaranteed.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?