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How Did MLB’s Drug Testing Fail with Alex Rodriguez and Others? PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 04 August 2013 12:19

A-Rod

Barring a last minute change, Alex Rodriguez and up to 12 other players, including Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers and Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees, will be suspended as part of the Biogenesis PED scandal on Monday. Rodriguez is expected to be suspended immediately via a provision in the collective bargaining agreement. While a life-time ban from the game has been discussed, multiple reports now say that he will be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season and the 2014 season. All told it would come to 214 days without pay or $34 million. The remainder of his contract would be in place and worth $61 million, but it is likely the Yankees will release him at that point as he will be 40 years old.

While testosterone will surely be one of the substances that Rodriguez used, there are signs that he possibly used other substances to increase performance. Tom Verducci reports:

Rodriguez, as reported by SI in 2009, did fail a 2003 test for steroids, but testing in that season was undertaken for survey purposes only with no penalties attached. Rodriguez subsequently admitted that he used PEDs from 2001 through 2003 — again, when no testing with penalties existed — though the evidence obtained by MLB in the Biogenesis case has been reported to detail the use of PEDs by Rodriguez at least in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Documents said to be the logbooks of Bosch and published by the Miami New Times in January detailed an extensive doping regimen associated with Rodriguez’s name, including at least 19 different drugs to be taken morning, noon and night through multiple delivery systems, including pills, injections and lozenges.

While the focus has been on the players and the suspension process involved, which due to non-analytical findings through the investigation has meant broad interpretation by the league on suspension lengths, the idea that players could have dodged coming up positive in testing is a question that needs to be asked. If the labor agreement gets tweaks around suspension lengths for non-analytical suspensions (and that seems very likely), then looking at where the testing process has come up short needs to be in the picture, as well.

This isn’t to say that MLB’s drug testing program isn’t good; it is considered to be the best in all of professional sports. It’s to say that if Alex Rodriguez and others such as Ryan Braun used PEDs recently, how did they slip by undetected?

The key is baseball’s efforts to reach the “biological passport” level. This is a way to capture a player's set of biological markers over a period of time. So, instead of all players being measured by say, a 4:1 ratio for testosterone, each player would have their own marker. Some players may have a marker for testosterone higher, some lower, but being measured by that unique set of markers would be how a player winds up being clean or potentially doping.

As much as Rob Manfred and Michael Wiener will undoubtedly discuss changes to the drug agreement around suspension lengths, there needs to be a good look in the mirror by the league and MLBPA to say, “How did we miss this? What can help us avoid the BALCOs and Biogenesis scandals of the world from happening again?” It may be a technology hurdle. It may be a political matter between the players and the league. But, just as there is strengthening through suspensions, the best way to avoid the messiness that is now in our midst is to have the drug testing program catch the players in the first place, not through investigations. If Alex Rodriguez truly doped for this long, he passed potentially hundreds drug tests. While MLB’s drug testing is considered the best, it still is not foolproof. Biogenesis is proving that.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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MLB, Twins Unveil 2014 All-Star Game Logo PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 15:46

2014 MLB All-Star Game logo

Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins and local officials from the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota today unveiled the official logo of the 2014 All-Star Game, which will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on today.

Those in attendance for today’s unveiling at the Twins’ home ballpark before the Club’s evening game against the Kansas City Royals included MLB Executive Vice President for Business Tim Brosnan; Twins Owner and CEO Jim Pohlad; Twins President Dave St. Peter; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman; Twins 2013 American League All-Stars Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins; Twins four-time All-Star Justin Morneau; former Twins All-Stars Tom Brunansky, Ron Coomer, Tony Oliva and Tim Laudner; Chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners Mike Opat; and Vice Chair of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority Martin Sabo.

The official logo of the 2014 All-Star Game focuses on the iconic Ballpark structure enveloped in downtown Minneapolis. The Twins' core colors of navy and red are supplemented by tanand sky blue. Tan signifies the locally quarried limestone used throughout the Ballpark, and the sky blue symbolic of the clear Upper Midwest sky. The retaining keystone shape is inspired by the Twins' historic and beloved Minnie and Paul logo.

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: “Major League Baseball joins the Twins franchise in anticipating a first-class week of events for the fans of Minnesota and their communities as a part of the 85th All-Star Game. We look forward to delivering a memorable experience and applauding our game’s very best at Target Field next July 15th.”

Twins Owner and CEO Jim Pohlad said: “The Twins are honored to host the 2014 All-Star Game Events. Even before opening Target Field in 2010, we dreamed of hosting this incredible event. With this logo unveiling, we’re one step closer to making this dream a reality.”

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said: “We’re excited for this incredible opportunity to showcase our great city. The City of Minneapolis is committed to making the 2014 All-Star Game a great experience for the many visitors to our region.”

Chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners Mike Opat said: “Hosting the 2014 All-Star Game Events is exciting for the Twin Cities community. Not only will we collectively reap the incredible economic benefits of hosting this jewel event, the associated charitable contributions will also greatly benefit our community as a whole.”

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said: “The All-Star Game events will be great for the City of St. Paul. We look forward to welcoming the many visitors to our great city and showing them our brand of Midwest hospitality.”

The 2014 All-Star Game will be the third Midsummer Classic hosted by the Twins. Metropolitan Stadium was the venue of the 1965 event on July 13th, a 6-5 National League victory in which the National League squandered an early 5-0 lead before breaking a 5-5 tie with a seventh inning, go-ahead single by Ron Santo, scoring Mays. Home runs were hit by Twins icon Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays, current MLB Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre, Willie Stargell and Dick McAuliffe. N.L. starter Juan Marichal earned Most Valuable Player honors with three scoreless innings, and Sandy Koufax was credited with the win. Overall, 18 Hall of Famers appeared in the 1965 Midsummer Classic, including such additional legends as Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Al Lopez, Mickey Mantle, Brooks Robinson, current MLB Executive Vice President for Baseball Development Frank Robinson, Billy Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

The 1985 All-Star Game marked another National League win – its 25th in a span of 29 Midsummer Classics – with a 6-1 score at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Senior Circuit’s first two pitchers, starter and MVP LaMarr Hoyt and Nolan Ryan, covered six innings without yielding an earned run, and Dick Williams’ lineup scored in three of the first five innings to take a 4-1 lead. The ’85 Midsummer Classic featured 14 Hall of Famers: Bert Blyleven, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Rich Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Ryan, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith. The 1985 All-Star Game marked the debut of the Home Run Derby, with Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds winning the inaugural contest.

Source: Major League Baseball

 


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Alex Rodriguez Will Be Picking His Poison with Biogenesis Suspension PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 01:45

UPDATE (8:30pm ET, 7/30/13): In speaking with several of those close the case and those reporting on the possible attempt at MLB using the CBA to suspend Alex Rodriguez immediately, the citing of by more than one report (including ours) lists Article XI (A) (1) (b) under the Grievance Process (the New York Daily News is the source cited below, and that has since propagated across the internet). While this appears to allow the Commissioner powers to do as they may plan in suspending immediately, it has been brought to my attention that an attachment to the CBA—a letter from Bud Selig to MLBPA Executive Director Michael Wiener—puts that clause out of reach. It reads:

Dear Michael:

I understand that the Players Association has expressed concern that the Commissioner might take some action pursuant to Article XI(A)(1)(b) of the Basic Agreement which could negate rights of Players under the new Basic Agreement. While I have difficulty seeing that this is a real problem, I am quite willing to assure the Association that the Commissioner will take no such action.

Sincerely,

Allan H. Selig

Commissioner of Baseball

Therefore, it is not that Article that will be used, but Article XII (B)—the overarching “best interest in baseball” clause, which states:

"Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law."

So, note… Article XII (B) could be used by the league to suspend Rodriguez immediately as there are no automatic stays with grievances under the Basic Agreement such as the drug agreement offers. Yes, Fredric Horowitz will still review the grievance under the CBA, but Rodriguez would be sitting at home, and not potentially in uniform. - Maury Brown

+++++++++++++

With an announcement of Alex Rodriguez’ suspension expected before the end of the week, the real question is, how will baseball’s highest-paid player decide to take his poison? Numerous reports have swirled that the length announced will be longer than Ryan Braun’s with a duration of the rest of 2013 and all of 2014 season if the Yankee slugger declares that he will not appeal the case. The reasons for the hefty penalties are outlined by The Associated Press:

The Yankees expect Rodriguez to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, of attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation, and of not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada.

But, indications are that A-Rod will not be going quietly and instead plans to appeal the case. Under the drug agreement between the league and the MLB Players Association, while the appeals process was taking place, Rodriguez would be allowed to continue to play. In a case of the league playing hardball, they’ve now upped the ante.

Based on a New York Daily News report, if Rodriguez isn’t willing to take the suspension without appeal, they’ll invoke Article XI, Section A1b of the latest collective bargaining agreement which provides the league power to bypass the grievance process. That passage under the “Grievance Procedure” allows Commissioner Selig to render a decision that “shall constitute full, final and complete disposition of such complaint, and shall have the same effect as a Grievance decision of the Arbitration Panel.” Because of that, even if Rodriguez looks to have the standard grievance process under the drug agreement come into play, which most expect to last into the off-season and allow him to continue to collect his salary, by Selig using the CBA under “best interests of baseball,” A-Rod would be immediately suspended.

Even at that stage, the appeals process would need to occur with independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz and there’s nothing to say that he won’t side with the league on penalties that could far exceed the offer on the table (rest of 2013, and all of 2014).

What seems obvious is that these various is designed as a way to leverage Rodriguez into accepting the offer without going through appeal. Here are the scenarios that could play out.

He Accepts the Offer

Suspended for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 without pay. He would still have $61 million left on his contract with the Yankees at that stage when he returned to the game after suspension.

He Fights the Suspension and Loses Appeal

Selig could evoke the clause in the CBA and suspend Rodriguez immediately. The offer is off the table and the league looks to ban Rodriguez for life. Horowitz would like mediate something downwards from life, but only he knows what could be negotiated. It seems likely that the league would accept nothing more than a duration longer than the current offer. A-Rod loses more salary off his contract with the Yankees, but amount is unknown.

After Losing, He Goes to Court

No player has yet to go to court over drug suspensions in the league, but since the duration of the suspensions are somewhat arbitrary (the CBA does not specify what lengths non-analytical suspensions should be), Rodriguez could sue the league and potentially the Yankees for back pay and other damages. The matter could rage in the courts for years. Any court case would not be started until all matters of appeals had been exhausted as part of the grievance process. No lawsuit would be filed until Horowitz rules on the matter.

He Fights the Suspension and Wins Appeal

This would be MLB’s worst case scenario. It’s possible that Selig could still intend on sticking it to Rodriguez based on “best interests of the game”. If not, and Rodriguez is reinstated, he would likely begin play at the beginning of 2014.

It’s All Bad for Rodriguez. Is His Career Now Over?

In all these cases, Rodriguez’ career may ostensibly be over. Two bad hips, and the PED matter hanging over his head, one wonders how the Yankees work to get out from underneath his contract. Here’s what is known: while Rodriguez is suspended, those games he would normally be paid for now do not could against the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) otherwise known as the Luxury Tax. If the league succeeds in getting Rodriguez to relent and take the rest of this season and all of 2014, the Yankees would that much closer to getting under the $189 million CBT threshold, something that the club has said they are working toward.

Watch beginning today. While the Rodriguez matter has grabbed the headlines, other players will be addressed as part of the Biogenesis case. No later than the end of the week, all suspensions should be addressed as part of the investigation.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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A’s 1969 Throwback Uniforms Show Exceptional Attention to Detail PDF Print E-mail
Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 29 July 2013 14:50

In the here and now, we say the plethora of uniform variations are a “marketing tool”—something to pry money out of your wallet that’s thrown together simply doing to do. But, for those that look at uniform design over the ages, they see artistic quality and attention to detail. When it’s a throwback uniform, it really tests how close those recreating want to get to the real thing from a time gone by.

So, this past weekend when the A’s hosted the Angels on the “1969 Turn-Back-The-Clock Day” promotion, you wondered how well it would conform to former owner Charlie Finley’s signature look. If Vida Blue or “Blue Moon” Odom had donned them in the day, would they have looked the same in 1969.

Judging by fans and historians, the A’s did a spectacular job in recreating the uniforms. As logo designer and uniform aficionado Todd Radom said, “Great job from top to bottom, from stirrups to the odd placement of centennial patch.”

For those that missed, here’s a couple of examples:

Bob Melvin in 1969 throwback uniform

Bob Melvin, A’s Manager

Ryan Cook in 1969 A's Throwback uniforms

Ryan Cook, A’s reliever

Photo credit:  Michael Zagaris, Oakland Athletics


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Voiding Contracts in MLB Over PEDs Not Happening Anytime Soon PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 26 July 2013 12:59

Maury BrownFans, as many do, aren't involved in reading through collective bargaining agreements, parsing drug policies, and noting labor history in sports.

They're blessed and cursed for this at the same time.

We want our sports figures--handsomely paid sports figures--to be accountable. We want the cheats banned from the game and commissioners to lay down hard justice.

It's not quite like that.

Take Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez, should he be suspended. "Lifetime ban" and "void their contracts" pepper Twitter, Facebook, your local bar, and all points in-between.

It's not happening.

The drug policy in baseball has been a negotiated matter that has gone from paper thin to the best in all sports. It's not perfect. It's not what all want. It evolves and comes from compromise.

Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez have never been suspended for PEDs prior, so when Braun--using a bad football analogy--took a knee, the structure was loosely based on what would have happened if he had tested positive rather than compelling evidence under "just cause." As one said, "His suspension is treated as his first with 50 games, plus 15 more for the other (bullspit) he did," a reference to lying.

A-Rod is likely to get more but I can't see 100 games. The 3 strike rule is 50/100/banned from game. Maybe it will be over 100 but that's in "strike 2" territory, and it doesn't mix well within the drug agreement framework, even if this whole thing is open to interpretation. Maybe 99 games? Who knows? Apparently only the league.

None of the drug policy speaks to voiding contracts, and if the owners tried that route they'd fall on their sword. Too much. Too pushy. Too outside the framework. The matter would rage in the courtroom and heaven knows baseball wants to drag this out for as long as they can. They're not that stupid.

In that I mean, Michael Weiner, Tony Clark, and the rest of the MLBPA have changed their position on drug testing almost 180 degrees since Donald Fehr and Gene Orza were at the helm. The majority of the players want to see an even playing field and are opposed to PEDs in the game. But while the PA supports a strong drug program, they’re not going to get railroaded into things like voiding contracts over the matter. There’s a policy. There’s parameters within it. Make penalties work within that, or wait till the next round of collective bargaining. Opening up the JDA again (they’ve done it twice) in the midst of a labor agreement could happen, but you get the sense that if you go to the well too often, you begin to create acrimony. Labor peace is more important than pushing the matter now. The league has plenty of ammo to strengthen the policy next time.

The Biogenesis fallout had Part 1 with Braun's 65 game suspension. Crap could hit the round spiny thing at any second for Rodriguez. Only then will we really know how far the envelope will be pushed.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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$500 Million Renovation Plans for Wrigley Field Clear Final Hurdle PDF Print E-mail
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Facility News
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 25 July 2013 13:13

Years in the making, the Chicago Cubs have finally been given approval to conduct renovations to historic Wrigley Field. The upgrades, which include everything from new clubhouses, to widened concourses, to the most controversial, a new video display, will total $500 million.

SEE COMPLETE DETAILS, PLUS ALL 20 IMAGES OF THE PROPOSED WRIGLEY FIELD RENOVATION

The City Council approved the upgrade, funded entirely by the Cubs, the day after the Zoning Committee approved the deal. Along with $300 million in upgrades to Wrigley Field, the Ricketts plan on building a $200 million hotel across from the ballpark.

But, it was the new 5,700-square-foot electronic video display that was the most contentious issue, and may still pose problems. While Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney got concessions in the form of no Clark Street pedestrian bridge from the new hotel to the ballpark, and other outfield signage. The Cubs have said that to fund the improvements themselves without public assistance, the advertising revenue from the sign as critical. On the pedestrian bridge, it may spin off other key aspects. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

A Cubs source said the organization has no timeline for bringing the bridge back to the city for consideration but indicated the team would expect "some kind of a trade" in exchange for permanently scratching the bridge off its wish list.

Cubs officials have floated the idea of building a deck in right field extending all the way to the east side of Sheffield Avenue, where fans could congregate during games and people could hold events when games aren't being played. That would allow the team to move the right field sign back far enough that people on rooftops on Sheffield would be able to see over it into the park, the source said.

Another possibility would be an archway over Clark on which the team could sell advertising, the source said.

But while the deal has been signed off, questions still loom as to whether roof-top club owners may file lawsuits over the new video display. The group, which signed a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement with the Cubs when the Tribune Co. still owned the club, has voiced concerns over the matter.

"No one walks away entirely happy," Tunney said during a City Council Zoning Committee hearing. "Those of us in the political arena know that's pretty well close to a successful deal. So with the negotiations and discussions ... I can support this planned development with the protections for my neighborhood moving forward and a respectful relationship with the Cubs and the community and the city and our mayor."


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Ryan Braun Suspension Uncharted Waters for MLB PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 22 July 2013 21:10

Ryan Braun

With the Biogensis scandal still hanging over baseball, the first critical suspension has gone down by former NL MVP of the Brewers, Ryan Braun, who will be suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason for violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.  The suspension of Braun is effective immediately.

Ryan Braun said: “As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect.  I realize now that I have made some mistakes.  I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.  This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization.  I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country.  Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates.  I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner issued a statement on the suspension of Braun.

"I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step.   It vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Program.   It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."

“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” said Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Economics & League Affairs for Major League Baseball. “We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter.  When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”

There are currently 65 games left on the Brewers schedule for the remainder of the 2013 regular season. Currently the team is 18.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and are last in the division. It will ultimately cost Braun—and save the Brewers--$3,019,125.68

The question is, how was the decision rendered, and what would happen if Braun were to test positive in the future for PEDs? The uncharted waters for the league, the MLBPA, and Braun works as follows.

His suspension on Monday is viewed as his first, and therefore 50 games. The league negotiated the additional 15 games for matters such as lying, etc. Many will point to Braun having his 50 game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone overturned in Feb of 2012 due to chain of custody being broken with his test sample. Braun and his lawyers never contested the positive results of the test then, only that the sample could have been tampered with. Former independent arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in favor of Braun and therefore the suspension was rescinded. Based upon the Joint Drug Agreement, it was as if that suspension never happened. Today’s ruling is therefore viewed has Braun’s first. If he were to test positive in the future he would be suspended for 100 games as a second offense.

Rumors had swirled that the league could have handed down up to a 100 game suspension. But, as MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said at the All-Star Game last week, because Biogensis is part of the just cause aspect of the JDA, suspensions “could be 5 or 500 games.” In accepting the suspension it will be interesting to see how this impacts others, such as Alex Rodriguez in the Biogenesis case. Braun did not fully go through the grievance process, and instead took his punishment. It is uncertain what Rodriguez or others implicated in the case will do.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Scouting, Sabermetrics, and Fools PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 19 July 2013 12:56

Allan Roth
Allan Roth, and Branch Rickey must be shaking
their heads

The debate likely started when some hunter/gathers were deciding who could throw rocks the furthest or with the greatest accuracy. Someone said “this way” was the best measure of success and at some point someone came up with a string or other tool to measure and challenged how an individual was gauged. Challenging the “old” with the “new” is not something that simply came about as part of the computer age and baseball. It’s been going on long before that.

The battle over whether scouting or advanced analytics (sabermetrics, as Bill James coined it) is a fruitless, wasted conversation. It is borne out the media, those from a by-gone era, or from those engrossed in data analysis that question the grounds of scouting due to objectivity. Surely, general managers around the league and those within baseball must be laughing.

There has never been someone in management that was worth a damn that didn’t want as much information at their disposal to allow them to make decisions. The weight of that information with which they make decisions may fluctuate, but why wouldn’t you want as much information as possible to allow flexibility?

More simply put, if something works, you’re going to use it. To those that say the “numbers guys” aren’t needed, if there wasn’t value in analytics it would not have found its way into every club in the game. By the same token, the numbers geeks should take it upon themselves to realize that if scouting had no place that aspect of player analysis would wither and die. Neither is going away. General Managers want whatever tools they can have at their disposal in which to field a competitive team. If they could shake chicken bones in a bowl and see something that would allow them to get a leg up on their competitors, you better believe they would do it.

To those that say that this whole “Moneyball” thing is a waste, I would say that you’re saying Branch Rickey was an idiot. Beyond the signing of Jackie Robinson, he’s noted for creating the farm system, and the creation of the first dedicated Spring Training facility where batting cages, and pitching machines were used.

But more important than that, in 1947 Rickey hired the man that can really be called the father of advanced metrics, Allan Roth. Roth became the first full-time statistician in baseball history and delved into On-Base Percentage, saying that it had as much value as Batting Average. So, what would Rickey and Roth say to those with blinders on that discount the value of statistical analysis?

By the same token, just because there is a computer at a baseball fan’s finger tips doesn’t mean that the numbers always lead to the ultimate truth. The numbers in their various formulas simply add more colors to the palette, just the same as scouting reports. There is no one “truth”. Step back from the keyboard and accept that.

The difference is only in how much one or the other is needed or focused on. Since both are here to stay, to discount one or the other is foolish. How each gets used is only at the discretion of the GM looking at the recommendations and making decisions. It may lean more toward the numbers or a scouting report depending on the need, but it all has value. It is all necessary.

There are still those that cling to the belief that the earth is flat. There are still those that say numbers or scouting can satisfy all aspects of player evaluation. In that, those saying as such should be declared the “Flat Earth Society of Baseball”. In other news, somewhere there are people looking at scouting reports, and those looking at metrics reports and saying to themselves, “Information is power.” They aren’t likely to be overly concerned about whether the source is human or spit out of a computer. As long as it helps them be competitive, it’s all that matters.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Miami Marlins to Host "Legends of Wrestling Night" in August PDF Print E-mail
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Sponsorships, Promotions
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 18 July 2013 10:59

It’s something that Bill Veeck knew and it’s a staple of the Minors: when all else fails, make sure you do creative promotions. The Miami Marlins have certainly taken this to heart for a date in late August.

Yes, the club that can boast the worst attendance in Major League Baseball in just the second season in a brand new ballpark is pulling out the stops on Aug 24 when they host a Legends of Wrestling Night which will feature over a dozen Hall of Famers, former World Champions and current professional wrestlers. You won’t get The Rock or Hulk Hogan, but former WWE/WCW Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg will throw out the first pitch, wrestlers will sign autographs during the game and then post-game there will be three to four wrestling matches inside the ring on the West Plaza of Marlins Park. While the list is subject to change, here’s who the Marlins have listed as appearing. No word on whether Jeffrey Loria or David Samson will be part of any cage matches:

* Bret “The Hitman” Hart (WWE Hall of Famer)

* Bill Goldberg (former WWE & WCW World Heavyweight Champion)

* Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (WWE Hall of Famer)

* Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake (former WWF Tag Team Champion)

* Koko B. Ware (WWE Hall of Famer)

* Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart (WWE Hall of Famer)

* The Nasty Boys (former WWF & WCW Tag Team Champions)

* Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (former WWF Tag Team Champion)

* Bushwhacker Luke (former WWE superstar)

* The Genius (former WWE superstar)

* Mr. Anderson (former TNA World Heavyweight Champion)

* Chavo Guerrero (former WCW, WWE and TNA Tag Team Champion)

* Davey Boy Smith, Jr. (former WWE Tag Team Champion)

* Wes Brisco (current TNA superstar)

* Garett Bischoff (current TNA superstar)


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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MLB Players Getting Bonuses for Being on 2013 All-Star Game Rosters PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 16 July 2013 14:23

2013 All-Star Game logo

The 84th MLB All-Star Game will be played tonight to much fanfare on television, radio, and for those attending.. Fans around the globe will tune in, and the players will be given ovations at CitiField in New York. The Midsummer Classic has turned into a massive PR campaign for the league, clubs, and the players at the center of it. For some, it’s more than just the honor of being selected; it’s about added lettuce in their wallet.

With final rosters announced, based on information from the Associated Press, of the 82 players listed, 55 of them have some form of All-Star Game clause attached to their contract for this year. Four of them (Alex Gordon, J.J. Hardy, Michael Cuddyer, and Salvador Perez) have provisions by which their player salaries increase (Cuddyer and Perez have conditional escalators based on performance over the rest of the season).

The other 51 players will see straight All-Star Game bonuses ranging from $100,000 (Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter,  Justin Verlander,  David Wright) to as little as $10,000 (Matt Carpenter,  Jason Kipnis,  Jeff Locke,  Mark Melancon). All told, these 51 bonuses not tied to contract escalators total $2.245 million.

In terms of how much clubs paid, they ranged from as high as $400,000 (Tigers) to as little as $25,000 (Rays), but more than half the clubs in all of Major League Baseball (19) are paying some form of All-Star Game bonus to players this year.

READ MORE TO SEE A COMPLETE LIST OF PLAYERS, PLUS BREAKDOWN BY CLUB

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