The last couple days have generated some big, big stories around baseball, as well as some interesting discussion-piece articles …
- One of the biggest stadium-related story lines in baseball has nothing to do with the renovation of Wrigley Field. Instead, it’s the ongoing saga involving the Oakland A’s, their awful facilities and location, and their fight to get MLB to help them move to San Jose. MLB, primarily because the San Francisco Giants claim territorial rights to the San Jose area, has dragged its feet for several years trying to come up with a solution. Well, the city of San Jose is now trying to force the issue, having filed suit against MLB, claiming a host of state and federal law violations, the most interesting of which is the claim of an illegal monopoly that illegally restricts the rights of San Jose to land an MLB team (to wit, the A’s). That kind of antitrust claim is both typical and useful in the business world, but, as you may know, MLB has been granted an antitrust exemption courtesy of the Supreme Court, the parameters of which (and legitimacy of which) have been debated and construed by other courts for decades. The A’s/San Jose piece of this story is absolutely hugely important, but a serious challenge to baseball’s antitrust exemption – which this case may or may not present – could have far-reaching consequences. That exemption arguably allows MLB, and its member organizations, to make a whole lot of money outside the typical course of business in other industries. Hopefully this San Jose case doesn’t go away quietly and quickly, because this is a ripe, deep, and complex issue that I’d love to discuss over the coming months (and years, really).
- From a lawsuit against MLB to a lawsuit filed by MLB, the Biogenesis case is ramping up. At last check, you’ll recall the ESPN report that MLB was, in fact, planning to suspend players connected to the alleged PED clinic in Miami, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. MLB has been working with the man behind the clinic, Tony Bosch, who has reportedly agreed to provide details on the players he serviced, which could number in the dozens. Now, Jon Heyman reports that MLB has started meeting with players implicated in the scandal, and sources tell him at least some suspensions will be coming. We may not hear about them until the appeal process is concluded, though.
- Speaking of the Biogenesis case, the publication that broke the original story – the Miami New Times – has a follow-up of how it all happened, and the story reads like something straight out of a movie script. It’s almost unbelievable, but here we are.
- A couple weeks ago, I read snippets of a study out of Vanderbilt that suggested that players are wearing down by the end of the year and it’s showing in their plate discipline. I’d intended to dig into the study as part of an Around the League, but there wasn’t quite enough going on at that time to justify a piece. Then Jonah Keri bailed me out with a lengthy write-up on the study, and an exploration of its implications. It’s a great read. It also makes me wonder if that fatigue impact is disproportionately true for the Chicago Cubs, where the constant readjustment of the body clock is even more pronounced. NEED. MOAR. EXCUSEZ.
- The next international signing period opens up July 2, and the Cubs are likely to be in on some of the top prospects, what with their second-largest spending pool in baseball. Ben Badler writes about how teams without huge pools could take advantage of some shady dealings to land better players than they are supposed to be landing by essentially paying a trainer for a kid in one signing period, but signing him (for far less money) in a subsequent period. The last signing period is now closed, so we’re not likely to see this loophole exploited until May/June next year – and MLB may have dealt with it by then.
- Drew Sheppard, the layered GIF master, is back with a look at RA Dickey’s knuckleball. He also writes some thoughtful things about why Dickey isn’t as effective this year, but, I mean … the GIFs are the best part. Here’s an example, showing the ridiculous range of movement last year: