Dan Lozano, Manny Machado’s agent, calls out Bob Nightengale and Buster Olney

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Earlier today, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that free agent SS/3B Manny Machado received a seven-year, $175 million offer from the White Sox. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports backed up Olney’s report.

That Machado received such a low offer — he was expected by many to fetch at least 10 years and $300 million at the start of the offseason — was surprising and, as Craig noted, possibly represented a broken labor market.

Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group, released a statement on Wednesday evening, specifically calling out Olney and Nightengale. Per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Lozano said:

I have known Bob Nightengale and Buster Olney for many years and have always had a good professional relationship with both. But their recent reporting, like many other rumors in the past several months, have been inaccurate and reckless when it comes to Manny Machado. I don’t know if their sources are blatantly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement by intentionally misleading them to try and affect negotiations through the public or are just flat out lying to them for other reasons. But the truth is that their reports on the details of the White Sox level of interest in Manny are completely wrong.

I am well aware that the entire baseball universe; fans, players, teams, and media members alike; are starved for information about this free agent market for all players, including Manny. But I am not going to continue to watch the press be manipulated into tampering with, not just my client, but all of these players’ livelihoods as they have been doing this entire offseason. The absence of new information to report is no excuse to fabricate “news” or regurgitate falsehoods without even attempting to confirm their validity and it is a disservice to baseball fans everywhere when the media does just that.

Moving forward, I will continue to respect the CBA’s prohibition on negotiations through the media, and hope that others would do the same.

It is no secret that clubs have used reporters to help reduce a player’s leverage. Agents do it, too, though the balance of power is quite different when it’s billionaires versus millionaires (or soon-to-be millionaires). Kudos to Lozano for speaking out and pushing back.

Quite a few reports — not just from Nightengale and Olney — that have come out lately have qualified as blatant obfuscation by someone involved on ownership’s side. Because reporters rightfully protect their sources, there are no consequences for a source giving misleading information to a reporter other than potentially souring the source/reporter relationship itself. As front offices have become increasingly reliant on analytics, they have also become shameless and dispassionate when it comes to creating advantages, including leverage against players. Take, for example, the increasing number of teams willing to go to arbitration hearings against their players, which involves trashing them to their faces. In the min-max mindset, better to trash your player and save a few bucks than to value the relationship at the cost of a couple hundred thousand bucks.

We have, ad nauseam here, talked about the labor climate and a potential strike ahead of the current CBA termination date on December 1, 2021. That an agent had to speak publicly about reporters being used as vessels for misleading information given by ownership minions speaks to the harrowing state of baseball’s labor climate.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.