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The Time Donald Trump tried to become a baseball mogul


Last year, as Donald Trump’s campaign was gaining steam, some baseball old timers recalled stories of how, in the 1980s, he tried to buy the Cleveland Indians and, on occasion, was rumored to be in the running to buy other teams. That obviously never happened — as we’ve learned, Trump talks big about a lot of things he has no intention and no ability to do — but back in the 80s people took Trump’s word a lot more seriously than we’ve learned to do today.

One thing I had no memory of at all, however, was Trump’s plan, such as it was, to make an entire rival baseball leagueDeadspin has the story on that and it’s a great read, as well as being a great walk through late 1980s baseball history.

Back then Washington didn’t have a team, of course, and Trump got headlines by, well, trumping up claims that he was going to bring baseball back to D.C. He got other businessmen to agree, at least provisionally, to buy in with franchises in other cities that were underserved by Major League Baseball at the time. Portland, Denver and Miami were the most notable, but other places like Hartford and Columbus, Ohio as well. The idea was to begin play in 1990.

The plan was supported by Don Fehr, then the Executive Director of the MLBPA, probably because it provided his union — which was entering Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with MLB that winter — leverage. Trump’s public statements and some carefully-cultivated press also gave the number one overall draft pick that year, Ben McDonald, and his agent, Scott Boras, some leverage in extracting the then-largest ever signing bonus out of the Baltimore Orioles. For a brief period of time, everyone was taking Trump seriously.

And then, of course, there was no followthrough. Trump called a meeting of all potential owners at Trump Tower and he didn’t even bother to show up, leaving a bunch of his would-be partners dangling and angry. All mention in the press of it died and the idea of a baseball league to rival Major League Baseball unceremoniously petered out. Within a year he’d file his first bankruptcy and enter a period when he was more famous for being a minor celebrity than for being a serious businessman.

It’s a fantastic story, which I highly recommend. If you told me this story a few years back, I’d say that we all dodged a bullet by Trump not getting involved in the baseball business. In light of more recent events, however, I’m wondering how much of a shot we’ve all taken by him not succeeding in baseball, which may have kept him otherwise occupied.

Marcus Stroman: Blue Jays are “f– terrible”

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Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman strugged in Sunday afternoon’s start against the Red Sox, yielding four runs (three earned) over five innings. He fell to 2-7 with a 5.86 ERA. The Jays dropped three of four games to the Sox in the series and now sit with a 43-52 record heading into the All-Star break.

Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun reports that while Stroman was initially cool, calm, and collected when speaking to the media after the game, he eventually snapped. Stroman was asked by a reporter about breaking into professional baseball with short-season Single-A Vancouver in 2012. Stroman yelled at the reporter, noting that his team had just lost to the Red Sox, and called his team “f– terrible.” Keegan Matheson’s account of the situation lines up with Buffery’s as well.

Prior to the outburst, Stroman had just praised his teammates, saying, “My team picks me up a ton. They pick me up all year. I should be able to pitch better in times like that when my team doesn’t have my back. Because they’ve had my back a ton of times. So, love my guys on my team and like I said, I would go to war with them any day.”

Stroman will have off until Friday, so hopefully the time off helps him clear his mind. It has understandably been a frustrating season in Toronto.