The Time Donald Trump tried to become a baseball mogul

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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.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.