Sean Doolittle and Eireann Dolan: not sticking to baseball

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Sean Doolittle of the Oakland A’s and Eireann Dolan of HBT’s corporate cousin, CSN Bay Area, both work in sports. They do not, however, “stick to sports,” as many fans would have athletes do. They’re both active in their community and active in causes that matter to them, as this excellent profile by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times demonstrates.

Oakland Baseball’s first couple are not unique among sports figures in their philanthropic impulses, of course. Almost all players do charity work and community outreach in important and sincere ways and both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA make a point to recognize such efforts with awards each year.

As Kepner notes, however, Doolittle and Dolan are different in a sense in that, while Doolittle does a great deal of the same sorts of things a lot of players do — work with veterans’ groups being a prime example — some of the things they do are outside of the purview of typical baseball philanthropy, with LGBT outreach and work with Syrian refugees being the two most prominent examples. As Kepner notes, these are the sorts of things that are “rarely discussed, let alone endorsed, in the strongly right-leaning culture of the baseball clubhouse.”

In the past, when Doolittle and Dolan’s work with this stuff has been highlighted, many criticized them for being “political.” I find it sad and, in many ways, telling, that being involved in outreach to the marginalized and ostracized is considered a political stance or a man-bites-dog story as opposed to a simple matter of human decency. It is certainly not incumbent on anyone to get involved in such causes, but if you actually take issue with people who support the victims of intolerance and discrimination, what are you actually advocating?

That’s an unexamined question in society at large, and certainly one not often discussed in the unique culture of baseball. However it’s answered, here’s hoping that, in the future, the mere fact baseball players care about such things is not as newsworthy as the actual efforts they undertake are.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.