American Legion to require ballplayers to show “proper respect” for National Anthem

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American Legion baseball is a grand American tradition. So too is our National Anthem. So too is freedom of speech and the right to protest. If you’re a Minnesota American Legion ballplayer, though, your right to protest during the National Anthem is something you have to check at the door:

American Legion Baseball players in Minnesota will be required to show “proper respect” during the National Anthem, or they won’t be able to play. The Minnesota American Legion committee adopted a no-tolerance policy when it comes to players’ behavior during the anthem before games.

“Proper respect” is being defined as players standing at attention with their hats off, and hats over their hearts. By the American Legion’s own admission, there has never been an Anthem protest during a Minnesota American Legion baseball game but the spokesman said that they just wanted to get out in front of the issue in light of Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the NFL season. He said they wanted to prohibit “kneeling down, back to the flag, stuff like that.” If you violate the new rule, you’ll be kicked out of Legion ball. The Minnesota prohibition was first reported last week and, apparently, follows on a national American Legion edict about Anthem decorum. Which I can’t recall hearing about when it happened, but apparently happened a few weeks ago.

It’s their league, so they can do what they want. And, of course, they’re an organization which cites advocating patriotism as part of its mission, so their stance on this matter is not surprising.

Anyone wanna help me form an ACLU baseball league? I’m guessing the players we’d get wouldn’t be quite as good, what with them all arguing that no one should bat first but, rather, they should all be represented in the lineup on equal terms, but our National Anthem would be fun and the arguments between the coaches and the umpires over rules interpretations would be worth the dang price of admission, that I can tell you.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.