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Alex Bregman fires his agent because of LeBron James

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It’s not unusual for ballplayer to switch agents. Sometimes it’s because they think they need a bigger name to get that bigger payday. Sometimes it’s because they feel the agent isn’t doing the most they can to further his interests. Like a lot of professional services relationship, in some ways you start losing a client the moment they retain you.

Astros star Alex Bregman is switching agents. His reasons for doing so, however, are a bit different than the norm. He’s doing it because LeBron James is doing something that’s hurting his feelings.

Bregman was represented by Brodie Scofield, the top baseball agent at a company called Klutch Sports. James is also represented by Klutch Sports. James, in addition to basketball, has a budding media company called Uninterrupted, and it was announced earlier this week that Uninterrupted is producing that sign-stealing documentary.

According to Ken Rosenthal, even though Scofield has nothing to do with it — and even though Uninterrupted is not even a part of Klutch Sports — Bregman considered it a conflict of interest:

The sports world remains shut down, but Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, runner-up in the 2019 American League MVP voting, is changing agents because of … LeBron James?

The answer is yes, according to four sources with knowledge of Bregman’s thinking.

The involvement of James’ media platform Uninterrupted in a new docuseries on the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal was perhaps not the only reason Bregman left Brodie Scoffield, whose company last month became the baseball arm of James’ agency, Klutch Sports. But the sources said it was an overriding factor — at the very least, the last straw.

A couple of thoughts.

I suppose people could disagree if there is an actual conflict of interest between James and Bregman here. If Klutch is doing stuff to promote or leverage the sign-stealing documentary, yeah, I’d be pissed if I was Bregman too and I’d consider it a conflict probably. But given that this is being done by James’ company, and it’s not likely that Klutch is representing James-the-entrepreneur like it does James-the-basketball player/personality, I feel like it’s, at most, a broad philosophical conflict. More about Bregman not wanting to be associated with anything at is associated with James as opposed to a genuine ethical matter. If someone is more familiar with agent/client conflicts wants to weigh in, by all means do so.

Second thought: while Bregman is a good player, I doubt Klutch is going to lose a moment’s sleep over this alleged conflict costing them his business. From a business perspective, Bregman is an ant and James is a boot. If forced to choose — and again, I don’t think they’d actually be forced to here given that they have nothing to do with the documentary — it’s pretty clear who they’d choose.

Finally, while not everyone is producing a documentary about it, good luck to Bregman finding an agent who doesn’t represent fellow athletes who think that what he and the Astros did was garbage. James has the clout to make a movie. But what if Bregman wants to hire Scott Boras and Scott Boras clients tweeted stuff about the Astros being cheaters? Is that going to offend his sensibilities too? Is there an agent who only represents 2017 Astros players?

Anyway, as the email from your former agent likely says, good luck with your future endeavors, Alex.

 

As unrest continues, Major League Baseball and its clubs have been mostly silent

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The police killing of George Floyd on May 25 has sparked outrage against police brutality both across the country and around the world. Protests which began in Minneapolis spread to multiple cities over this past weekend. In the saddest of ironies, these protests against the unlawful and excessive use of force has led to police employing even more unlawful and excessive use of force against protesters, most of whom have engaged in peaceful, constitutionally-protected activities. This has all lead to additional deaths, countless injuries, thousands of arrests, and the targeting of journalists by police and government authorities. As of this very moment, that unrest continues.

As Bill noted yesterday, a great many of ballplayers and managers have spoken out against police brutality and in support of those rallying against it. We have heard almost nothing, however, from Major League Baseball and its clubs.

Major League Baseball has issued no official statement in response to the unrest. Only four teams — the Twins, Athletics, Giants, and Blue Jays — have issued statements of their own. The Miami Marlins released a statement from CEO Derek Jeter, but as you can see below, they make a point to say that it’s Jeter’s sentiment, not that of the club. The Dodgers, well, scroll down and we’ll see what they’ve done. It’s kinda awkward.

The Twins’ statement on Friday was in specific reference to George Floyd’s killing:

The Blue Jays’ statement is the most recent:

The Giants released this yesterday:

As we noted yesterday, the Oakland A’s paired their statement with the announcement of a charitable donation:

Here’s Derek Jeter, tweeted out by the Marlins, who have made no statement on behalf of the club:

Finally the Dodgers:

That’s obviously not about Floyd’s killing or any of the unrest, but I take that as a tacit acknowledgment of it all and the judgment that maybe today is not a good day for a Zoom party. Which, hey, is better than the 24 other teams whose Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and websites would have you believe that nothing has happened in the country in the past week.

Contrast that with the NBA which, as of late this morning anyway, has seen 23 of its 30 franchises release a statement on their Twitter feed related to George Floyd’s killing

Not that the five baseball teams who have said something are deserving of full laurels here. Notable in their statements — even in the Twins’ statement which specifically references Floyd — is the complete absence of any reference to law enforcement or police brutality. For that matter, only five of the NBA teams who spoke out specifically mentioned that. One of them is the Washington Wizards. Here’s how easy it is to say such a thing:

 

Given that the very impetus of the events upon which the teams and leagues are attempting to speak out is the behavior of law enforcement and police brutality, its rather amazing that so few mention it. Indeed, it’s impossible to see these statements as anything other than organizations trying extraordinarily hard not to mention that.

Many of you are probably asking right now (a) why it should matter if professional sports teams or leagues speak out; and (b) if they do, why it should matter if they specifically mention police brutality. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

A broad answer to that is that sports teams and leagues are citizens like the rest of us and are comprised of citizens like the rest of us. They’re important members of the communities in which they play and their leadership and example are important to a great many people. They routinely release statements about things such as natural disasters, global pandemics, notable deaths, and any manner of other of non-sports event which impacts their communities. How massive public uprisings that are clearly affecting many of their own players is mostly given a miss is beyond me.

A more specific answer: the leagues and teams are never hesitant, for one moment, to comment on social progress, including racial progress, when it occurs and when they are a part of it. They are likewise quick to embrace and promote law enforcement when it suits their interests and puts law enforcement in a good light. Most teams host law enforcement appreciation nights, for example. Is it not fair to ask a baseball team that appreciates law enforcement for the good things it does to at least comment on the bad things it does? Is it not fair to ask why they are being so silent in this regard when the behavior of law enforcement is not anything to be appreciated?

One hopes that Major League Baseball’s silence on this matter is one of simple but understandable timidity to weigh in on a matter of such gravity. That the league and its teams are taking their time to craft just the right statements and that, when they got them down perfectly, they’ll be released.

One hopes, in contrast, that their failure to do so as of yet is not a function of their belief that these matters do not affect them, their players, their employees, their fans, and the communities which support them.