Ex-Astros pitcher Brandon Backe says police brutality ended his career

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I had totally forgotten about Brandon Backe, the Astros pitcher from the mid-to-late 2000s. He hasn’t pitched since 2009 and this story in the Houston Chronicle tells us that, in his view, it’s because of a beating he received at the hands of police officers in October of 2008.

Backe took the stand in the trial of his civil suit he and 11 other plaintiffs have brought against 30 Galveston, Texas police officers arising out of the incident which took place at a friend’s wedding. Backe alleges that he was thrown to the ground, beaten, bloodied and kicked and ended up with a severe shoulder injury that derailed his pitching career.

That this has reached trial means that there is evidence in his favor (if there was not it would have been dismissed via summary judgment prior to trial).That he is a pitcher, however, means that the defense likely has several ways to show that his baseball career was harmed by pitching injuries, not the beating. Given how little we know about how pitching injuries happen, why and how they might be prevented, it’s definitely going to be an interesting question for the jury.

But if the jury finds that the police did use excessive force and caused career-ending injuries to Backe, the damages could range in the tens of millions given what a pitcher of his stature could have stood to make.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.