Minor league team shows video portraying Congresswoman as ‘enemy of freedom’

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The Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, showed what can only be called a political propaganda video to fans during a Memorial Day tribute on Monday during a doubleheader against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Carmen George of the Fresno Bee tweeted about it at around 7:30 PM PDT:

The video, which George linked in a subsequent tweet and will not be linked here, can be found on YouTube. It mostly contains standard images and symbols of military pride, but about three minutes into the three-minute, 35-second video, the voiceover of Ronald Reagan talks about “the enemies of freedom” while images are shown of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Fidel Castro and . . . Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Someone, apparently a protesting American, wearing an Antifa hat is also shown.

It’s one thing to take political issue with a sitting United States Congresswoman, of course. Many people do, especially with this Congresswoman. But by casting her as an “enemy of freedom,” the maker of that video, whoever it was, is, by definition, engaged in political propaganda, portraying a merely dissenting viewpoint as a threat to America. By showing that video, obviously, the Grizzlies gave fans the impression they were weighing in with that viewpoint.

After receiving much-deserved criticism, the Grizzlies issued an apology shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. The team said:

We are aware of the problem with the Memorial Day tribute video shown in the ballpark between games of Monday’s doubleheader.

A pre-produced video from outside our front office was selected; unfortunately what was supposed to be a moving tribute ended with some misleading and offensive editing, which made a statement that was not our intent and certainly not our opinion.

We apologize to our fans and to our community for the error and for not properly vetting the video. We also apologize to those who have served and are currently serving the country for the undue distraction on such a solemn day.

That apology was lacking in specificity. In a follow-up tweet posted about 40 minutes later, the Grizzlies said, “We’re embarrassed we allowed this video to play without seeing it in its entirety first. We unconditionally apologize to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) in addition to our fans, community and those we hurt. It was a mistake and we will ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”

I subscribe to Hanlon’s razor, a philosophy that roughly suggests we not attribute to malice that which can more easily be attributed to ignorance. The likeliest scenario seems to be that a Grizzlies employee put in charge of this little project was scrounging around the Internet for a Memorial Day tribute video to show on the big screen for the fans and chose the aforementioned video without watching it all the way through. Especially in the minor leagues, these employees — like their baseball player counterparts — are overworked and underpaid. This is not to excuse that the video was played; this is simply to provide a likely context. The Grizzlies should still check to see if there was intent behind what otherwise appears to be a mistake borne out of laziness or hurriedness, though.

So much for “stick to sports,” huh?

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.