Must-click link: The Many Crimes of Mel Hall

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Mel Hall is a Major League Baseball version of “that guy” for people my age. He never starred, but he was visible. He never played for winning teams but he was a halfway-decent player for bad ones. You probably remember his baseball cards more than remember him playing. The name is just north of the anonymity line in that, when you hear it, it makes you think “oh, yeah, the ballplayer from the 80s,” whereas someone just a notch down from him would require a Baseball-Reference.com search to confirm that, yes, he did play in the bigs.

He’s also at a level where you can be forgiven if you didn’t give him a single thought after he stopped playing. And if you didn’t give him a single thought, it means you missed the fact that he was arrested, charged and convicted of raping multiple young girls — some as young as 12-years-old — during and following his playing career. He’s now in a Texas prison, where he’ll be for at least another 17 years.

Yesterday Greg Hanlon of SB Nation wrote an in-depth look at Mel Hall and his awful crimes. It’s not for the feint of heart. The term “monster” gets used for a lot of bad guys, but it is an understatement in Hall’s case. Hanlon, through an in-depth look at the police and court records and interviews with some of Hall’s victims, explains how Hall used his fame, his friendly, outgoing nature and no small amount of bald-faced lying to get close to the young girls on which he preyed.

One clear takeaway here is that there is real evil in the world. But another one is that Hall couldn’t have done what he did nearly as easily if he had not been a professional athlete and if professional athletes were not treated the way they are treated in our society.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”