Roy Halladay dies in plane crash in Gulf of Mexico

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A small airplane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pasco County, Florida this afternoon. After hours of growing speculation, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office confirmed moments ago that the owner and pilot of the plane was retired Phillies and Blue Jays star Roy Halladay. He was the only person on board and was killed in the crash. He was 40 years old.

Halladay was an amateur pilot whose social media accounts were dominated of late by photos and videos of his plane and his flights. He recently purchased an Icon A5 aircraft, which is a light amphibious sport plane. He posted about buying it just a few weeks ago. Photos from the crash site show an Icon A5, with the same tail number as the plane Halladay purchased in mid-October and of which he posted pictures to his social media accounts:

The Pasco County Sheriff referred all questions regarding the circumstances of the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board. They will no doubt be following up with public statements soon.

Halladay pitched in the majors for 16 years, starring for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, winning Cy Young Awards in 2003 and 2010. He retired after the 2013 season with a career record of 203-105 and a 3.38 ERA. He was, without question, a Hall of Fame talent.

The Phillies released the following statement: “We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death. There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”

Major League Baseball followed with a statement of their own:

The Blue Jays, the franchise with which Halladay broke into the majors, released the following statement: “The Toronto Blue Jays organization is overcome by gried with the tragic loss of one of the franchise’s greatest and most respected players, but even better human being. It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city and its fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.