Jose Urena
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Kevin Gausman ejected after throwing at José Ureña

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Tempers flared in the second inning of Friday’s Marlins-Braves opener when Atlanta right-hander Kevin Gausman lobbed a 97.1-m.p.h. fastball behind Miami starter José Ureña. While the ball didn’t make contact with Ureña, the intent behind the pitch was enough to get Gausman ejected by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

The brush-off pitch appeared to be an attempted retribution for the hit-by-pitch Ureña delivered to Ronald Acuña Jr. last summer. Acuña was plunked on the elbow during his first at-bat of the game and, crucially, in the middle of his ongoing home run streak as well. It elicited no shortage of strong emotions from players and fans alike, and both Ureña and Braves manager Brian Snitker were ejected in the aftermath.

No one rushed to Ureña’s defense on Friday (though Snitker was again ejected after defending Gausman), but he remained in the game and took first base on a four-pitch walk from Touki Toussaint. On the mound, he tossed six innings of five-run, three-walk, four-strikeout ball, and gave up two home runs to Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann in the first and sixth, respectively.

The Braves currently lead the Marlins 5-2 in the seventh. No official statement has been issued by either Gausman or the Braves regarding the incident.

Minor League Baseball accuses MLB of making misleading statements

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Yesterday several members of Congress, calling themselves the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force,” introduced a resolution saying that Major League Baseball should drop its plan to eliminate the minor league clubs and, rather, maintain the current minor league structure. In response, Major League Baseball issued a statement accusing Minor League Baseball of refusing to negotiate and imploring Congress to prod Minor League Baseball back to the bargaining table.

Only one problem with that: According to Minor League Baseball, it has been at the table. And, in a new statement today, claims that MLB is making knowingly false statements about all of that:

“Minor League Baseball was encouraged by the dialogue in a recent meeting between representatives of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball and a commitment by both sides to engage further on February 20. However, Major League Baseball’s claims that Minor League Baseball is not participating in these negotiations in a constructive and productive manner is false. Minor League Baseball has provided Major League Baseball with numerous substantive proposals that would improve the working conditions for Minor League Baseball players by working with MLB to ensure adequate facilities and reasonable travel. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball continues to misrepresent our positions with misleading information in public statements that are not conducive to good faith negotiations.”

I suppose Rob Manfred’s next statement is either going to double down or, alternatively, he’s going to say “wait, you were at the airport Marriott? We thought the meeting was at the downtown Marriott! Oh, so you were at the table. Our bad!”

Minor League Baseball is not merely offering dueling statements, however. A few minutes ago it released a letter it had sent to Rob Manfred six days ago, the entirely of which can be read here.

In the letter, the Minor League Baseball Negotiating Committee said it, “is singularly focused on working with MLB to reach an agreement that will best ensure that baseball remains the National Pastime in communities large and small throughout our
country,” and that to that end it seeks to “set forth with clarity in a letter to you the position of MiLB on the key issues that we must resolve in these negotiations.”

From there the letter goes through the various issues Major League Baseball has put on the table, including the status of the full season and short season leagues and implores MLB not to, as proposed, eliminate the Appalachian League. It blasts MLB’s concept of “The Dream League” — the bucket into which MLB proposed to throw all newly-unaffiliated clubs — as a “seriously flawed concept,” and strongly counters the talking point Major League Baseball has offered about how it allegedly “subsidizes” the minor leagues.

You should read the whole letter. And Rob Manfred should probably stop issuing statements that, it would appear, are easily countered.