NCAA’s Mark Emmert slams minor league sports. Minor League Baseball slams back.

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The NCAA’s Mark Emmert would be a jackwagon if, for no other reason, than that he leads the NCAA and apparently believes all of the hypocritical crap that he and the NCAA’s water carriers spew about amateurism and student-athletes while they make billions off their unpaid labor. Or, worse, that he doesn’t believe it and spews it anyway. Really, the NCAA is the worst and Emmert is its leader, ergo: Jackwagon.

But during his testimony in the Ed O’Bannon trial last week, he took it a step further:

“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”

Just on the surface that is dumb, in that Minor League Baseball — though it has experienced ups and downs in its history — has been in a pretty damn sustained upswing for a couple of decades now. An upswing any way you slice it, really. Revenues. Profits. Attendance. New ballparks. Merchandise sales. And I bet if you polled fans of various sports and various levels and leagues of sports, you would find that minor league fans are among the most satisfied with that which they patronize than anyone. It’s affordable, it’s family friendly and it’s fun. When was the last time you heard anyone complaining about going to a minor league game?

Pat O’Connor, the president and CEO of Minor League Baseball took Emmert to task for this over the weekend. After schooling Emmert on just how wrong he was, O’Connor offers and invitation:

So, Dr. Emmert, there’s no denying that minor league sports are in fact immensely successful in regard to fan support and fan experience. And Minor League Baseball is thriving as an alternative to other more costly entertainment options. We have the thrills of a theme park, the emotions of a good movie, the element of surprise at a concert and the cuisine of your favorite restaurant, all wrapped up in one event and taking place in 70 ballparks on any given summer night. 

Please accept this as an open invitation, Dr. Emmert, join the American people and attend a Minor League Baseball game this summer. See for yourself just how much fan support we have and how the fan experience is like none other in the sports world. There’s something special going on at Minor League Baseball parks across this country and there’s never been a better time to be a part of it.

I assume Emmert won’t go. Mostly because it would likely pain him so to see athletes being paid, even if it’s just a little bit, to play sports.

Max Muncy and Matt Beaty step on Rhys Hoskins’ ankle on consecutive plays

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In the 10th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS last year, infielder Manny Machado — then with the Dodgers — stepped on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar, understandably, wasn’t happy about that and both teams’ benches spilled onto the field. It was a continuation of a tumultuous series for Machado, who was also vilified for not hustling and sliding hard into Orlando Arcia twice. The Machado-Aguilar dust-up served as a referendum on Machado’s character until he finally signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres.

Recently, Machado criticized the analysts on MLB Network for holding double standards. Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes argued with Greg Amsinger about the Jake Marisnick collision at home plate with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Amsinger felt Marisnick was in the wrong; Plesac and Byrnes defended Marisnick. On Instagram, Machado said if he had been the one who bulldozed Lucroy, Plesac and Byrnes wouldn’t have defended him, in part because he is Latino. Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones said earlier this year that Machado would “one hundred percent” be treated differently if he were white.

With that context in mind, something interesting happened in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s game between the Dodgers and Phillies. Leading off the top of the fourth inning against Aaron Nola, Max Muncy grounded out to shortstop Jean Segura. As Muncy crossed the first base bag, he stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle. On the next play, Matt Beaty beat out an infield single hit to third baseman Maikel Franco, shifted up the middle. As Beaty crossed the first base bag ahead of the throw, he tripped over Hoskins’ ankle. MLB.com hasn’t posted video of the incidents yet, but here’s a look at both plays from @jomboy_ on Twitter:

We rarely see runners tripping over the feet of first basemen, but here we have it happening on back-to-back plays. Hoskins’ footwork around the bag was textbook given the situations. The commentators on the exclusive YouTube broadcast gave the runners the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, there has surprisingly been little discussion of these plays. A July 18 game isn’t exactly Game 4 of the NLCS, but look at how much conversation the Marisnick-Lucroy play generated and that was less than two weeks ago. These plays deserve a “Was it dirty?” conversation.

One wonders what the conversation would have looked like if it had been black or Latino runners stepping on Hoskins’ ankle on back-to-back plays. Would they have gotten the immediate benefit of the doubt like Muncy and Beaty? Would malicious intent have been ascribed to them instead? That, really, is Machado’s point about the double-standard applied to non-white players. It doesn’t excuse any of his obviously terrible behavior, but if we’re going to criticize players for bad behavior, we should do so evenly and fairly. Muncy and Beaty deserve criticism for their poor, sloppy, dangerous base running. Frankly, Major League Baseball should consider fines and/or suspensions. Machado was fined for stepping on Aguilar.