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Bill Plaschke is very, very happy that Yasiel Puig is gone

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When Yasiel Puig was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds, one of the first people I thought of was Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke. I didn’t just think, though. I worried. I worried what Plaschke would do now that he was being deprived of one of his favorite punching bags.

And make no mistake: Plaschke hated Puig. Hated him with the heat of a thousand suns. He hated him so much that he became unhinged at times.

We’ve chronicled it before. He hated Puig’s bat flips and swagger. He hit him way, way harder for base running mistakes and missing the cutoff man than he’d ever hit anyone else, attributing such things to Puig’s inherent lack of character. When an opposing pitcher got crappy and chippy with Puig, it was somehow Puig’s fault (of course when other players do it, it’s fine). And no, Puig’s horrible, destructive nature was not limited to what he did on the baseball field. According to Plaschke Puig’s own personal history put Dodgers fans’ lives at risk.

No, I’m not kidding. Several years ago, when the story of Puig’s harrowing experience with human traffickers during his defection from Cuba, through Mexico and to the United States came to light, Plaschke cast Puig as a danger who could bring violence to Dodger Stadium:

• The story reports that late in the summer of 2012, the smugglers still wanted their money, and threatened to harm Puig unless he paid. Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium?

• The story notes that in the fall of 2012, one of the smugglers was killed, execution-style, after Puig allegedly complained about the harassment to his former agent, Gilberto Suarez. Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium?

• The story details how Pacheco will be given 20% of all of Puig’s future earnings in a deal that is not unusual for desperate Cuban players. Does this mean that the rumors of Pacheco’s appearances around the Dodgers last year were true? Is this Miami man quietly pulling the strings on Puig’s turbulent life?

You read that correctly: Plaschke indirectly blamed Puig for someone’s murder as he was LITERALLY BEING HELD CAPTIVE BY HUMAN SMUGGLERS and worried that a reprisal for his snitching could lead to, I dunno, gun play during a Dodgers-Rockies game or something.

So when I say that Plashcke had it in for Puig, I am not overstating it. The guy was absolutely unhinged on the matter.

If I was worried about Plaschke being without his favorite repository for abuse, I was mistaken. Because even with Puig gone, Plaschke is taking shots at him. Here he is yesterday, at Dodgers Opening Day, talking about just how great things are in the Dodgers clubhouse now that Puig is gone:

Plashcke says the clubhouse is “more businesslike” thanks to A.J. Pollock and Joe Kelly, who he calls “gamers” and “grinders.”

Makes me wonder if he knows anything about Joe Kelly other than the fact that he is not Yasiel Puig. Because Kelly is a notorious goofball. And I mean that in the best sense of the term. He’s kind of flakey and fun and always has been. When he was traded by the Cardinals someone put together a list of his top 10 goofy moments. He’s a guy whose quirkiness is beloved by fans, and rightfully so.

I’m not going to suggest that Yasiel Puig was the best teammate every to don the Dodger blue. He rubbed people the wrong way sometimes. But if you’re comparing him unfavorably to Joe Kelly in the category of being “more businesslike” or as a “gamer” or “grinder,” I feel like you’re telling on yourself for a few things. Things like your ignorance. Things like your irrational hated of Yasiel Puig. Things like your biases of any number of other stripes.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: