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The Astros are leaning into the role of villain

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You absolutely knew this was going to happen.

After a two-month firestorm in which the extent of their cheating operation was revealed, and after a week of players around the league voicing their displeasure at both the Astros and at Major League Baseball for not punishing them in a manner they deem sufficient, the Astros are pushing back. From the Washington Post, here’s Josh Reddick:

“At some point, you have to move on and not give a s—. We’re going to go out there and win and shut everybody up.”

And here’s Lance McCullers:

“[The teams talking trash are] going to have to play us. Except for the guys who are popping off the most . . .”

That was a direct shot at the Dodgers, who are not on the Astros’ schedule and whose players — notably Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger — have been among the most vocal critics of the Astros. Probably because the Dodgers were the team the 2017 Astros beat in the World Series, at least in part by cheating.

More McCullers:

“. . . Those guys aren’t going to have to face us, which is maybe why they feel like they can speak like that. But we’re moving on. That’s not what people may want to hear, but we stood here as men and we addressed [the scandal] . . . We’re just looking forward to playing baseball again.”

Do you think they “addressed the scandal?” Most don’t. At least most who aren’t members of the Houston Astros or fans of the team. I suppose McCullers can think anything he wants about it, of course.

Anyway, I fully expect this trend in which Astros players increasingly assume the role of the victim — citing everyone’s anger at them for cheating as a motivational factor and using criticism as bulletin board material — to continue as spring training moves on.

All that’ll be left at that point will be a straight-faced article from a friendly media source talking about how they’ve “overcome adversity.”

Diamondbacks minority owners sue Ken Kendrick over buyouts

Ken Kendrick
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Three minority owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks are suing managing general partner Ken Kendrick after Kendrick initiated a forced buyout for stakeholders who own less than 1% of the team, according to The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan. The three plaintiffs are businessman Alfredo Molina, former pitcher Jim Weber and an LLC called Carlise Investments.

The lawsuit alleges that Kendrick’s demand that minority owners with less than a 1% share either increase their buy-in or sell their shares at a price set by the team is illegal. The Diamondbacks say that the plan is supported by MLB, which the league confirmed to The Athletic. However the full extent of MLB’s support is unclear. Kendrick’s side says that MLB wanted the Diamondbacks to streamline the ownership group, while the plaintiffs say that the league merely okay’d Kendrick’s initiative.

Although just three of the minority owners or ownership groups are named as plaintiffs, the buyback plan reportedly impacts 22 total persons or groups. The buybacks don’t seem to be driven by coronavirus-related financial concerns, as Kendrick announced his intentions to the rest of the owners in a letter sent on January 13th.

Buchanan’s article has the full legalese details of the dispute, and I’m no corporate lawyer, but this reads like Kendrick trying to consolidate financial power. Kendrick has gained a miserly reputation, and has recently made headlines by squabbling with local officials and claiming that Chase Field is somehow a subpar facility for baseball. The Diamondbacks have reportedly toured Vancouver twice in the last two years, including B.C. Place Stadium.

The Athletic’s report says that Kendrick could control a voting bloc within the Diamondbacks’ stakeholders that controls as much as 90% of the team.

Arizona has made the playoffs just three times since 2004, when Kendrick became managing general partner.

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