Friday, October 23, 2015

Topps to Release Cards Focused on Players Who Overcame Disabilities & Health Problems

I know baseball cards are so 1990’s and earlier but Topps, the leading maker in baseball cards, is doing something that I felt was worth mentioning. Topps is releasing a new set of baseball cards that will feature and showcase ballplayers who have overcome disabilities and health changes on their path to stardom in Major League Baseball. This is quite the gesture, and marketing ploy but stick with me, by Topps and it deserves recognition in my opinion.

The set is to be called “Pride & Perseverance” and was released this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and also honors the 25th anniversary of American with Disabilities legislation.

Wendy Lewis, Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Strategic Alliances, released a statement praising Topps for the new set and for bringing these players into the limelight once again. Players like Jim Abbot who was born without a right hand but went on to pitch in Major League Baseball and even throw a no-hitter with the New York Yankees after winning a U.S Olympic medal with the countries baseball team in 1988. Players like Curtis Pride who was legally deaf but still went on to play outfield and hit at a Major League level for 13 years with the New York Yankees, Detroit Tiger and others.

Jim Eisenreich will also be honored in the series after battling Tourette’s syndrome alongside Pete Gray, the St. Louis Browns outfielder who lost his arm in a childhood accident, and William Hoy who was born deaf but was still able to play centerfield from 1888 to 1902. There will be current players in the mix as well as the Chicago Cubs ace starting pitcher and first baseman Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo, both cancer survivors, will be in the pack along with former New York Yankees reliever Buddy Carlyle, who was diagnosed with diabetes. Houston Astros outfielder George Springer, who deals with stuttering on a daily basis, will be in the pack along with Jake Peavy, the San Francisco Giants right-hander, who is legally blind without corrective lenses or contacts.

Well played Topps, you may have just convinced me to get back into buying baseball card sets again. 

Minor League Players Suing Major League Baseball over Wages

Major League Baseball has been without a work stoppage since the 1994 strike that cancelled the World Series and with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire after the 2016 season all signs point to at least a few more years without a hiccup. Many things could happen between then and now to mess with this safe haven of a workplace that Major League Baseball has become including the fact that a federal judge in California granted condition class certification to minor league baseball players allowing them to sue Major League Baseball teams for failing to pay them minimum wage.

The suit dates back to February of 2014 where players claimed to have to work long hours during the season and perform other duties requires by their MLB bosses in the offseason without what they are calling adequate compensation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero granted a motion asking the court to certify a proposed Minor League Collective under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Players who will be able to take part in this class action lawsuit will be any minor league player who worked for the MLB or any MLB franchise since February 7, 2011 but did not spend any time in the Major Leagues at the same time.

Minor league players want fair wages for fair pay and I agree with that if they didn’t knowingly sign a contract with the team. I’m glad I’m not the one making this decision because I can see both sides of the equation. Stay tuned I guess. 

Brace Yourselves: The "Masahiro Tanaka Should Have Underwent Tommy John Surgery For No Good Reason" Fans Are Coming...

When news broke that Masahiro Tanaka had a successful, and very routine, elbow surgery this week my mind immediately went to not whether Tanaka would be okay or whether or not he would be ready for Spring Training 2016. No. My mind immediately went to all the garbage, trash and half-truths that I was going to have scattered all over my timeline on Twitter (cheap plug, @GreedyStripes) not only this winter but during the 2016 season as well. Brace yourselves Yankees fans, the group that thinks Tanaka should go ahead and get an unnecessary and potentially career threatening surgery just to make them stop criticizing every pitch he throws and to make them sleep better at night are coming and they are coming in full force.

Many fans will ignore the fact that the Yankees organization stated that the bone spur that Tanaka had removed and cleaned up from his elbow stemmed back from his time pitching in Japan. The bone spur had nothing to do with his partially torn ligament in his elbow that five Tommy John specialist doctors recommended to rest and rehab. The spur is a routine surgery much like Carlos Beltran had before the 2015 season and requires six weeks of rest and rehab before beginning a throwing program. Tanaka will be ready for 2016 and will be fine in 2016, hell he may even be better in 2016. We all saw how much a bone spur affected Beltran at the plate in 2014 imagine what it could do to a pitcher throwing 100+ pitches every fifth or sixth day.

Isn’t October, 23 2015 a little early to be saying that the 2016 season is already over?

I just want to throw this out there, it’s not completely unprecedented for a pitcher to rest and rehab a tear in his UCL that is less than 10%. Ervin Santana did the same thing and never had the surgery to this day while Adam Wainwright pitched for years, longer than Tanaka’s current contract with the New York Yankees, before having the surgery. Another thing is you don’t see an increase in velocity, which Tanaka did in 2015, and you don’t increase your use of breaking stuff and splitters, which Tanaka also did in 2015, if your elbow is a concern or bothering you. Tanaka does not need a surgery that could end his career, and yes even today it is ending the careers of many even with such a high success rate, until and/or unless it is absolutely 100% necessary. The bone spur didn’t cause the tear in the UCL, the surgery to repair the bone spur is not due to the tear in the UCL and it has no bearing whatsoever on the tear (that may not even be there anymore for all we know) in the UCL.

Yankees fans, chill. As much as you don’t want to admit it the Yankees know what they are doing. 

2016 Yankees Arbitration Salary Predictions

Sergio Santos

2015 Salary - $750K million
MLBTR Prediction - $900K
My Prediction - $750K million (recovering from Tommy John surgery)

Andrew Bailey

2015 Salary - $525K
MLBTR Prediction - $900K
My Prediction - $1 million 

Ivan Nova

2015 Salary - $3.3 million
MLBTR Prediction - $4.4 million
My Prediction - $3.8 million 

Michael Pineda

2015 Salary - $2.1 million
MLBTR Prediction - $4.6 million
My Prediction - $5 million 

Dustin Ackley

2015 Salary - $2.6 million
MLBTR Prediction - $3.1 million
My Prediction - $3.5 million 

Nathan Eovaldi

2015 Salary - $3.3 million
MLBTR Prediction - $5.7 million
My Prediction - $6 million 

Adam Warren

2015 Salary - $572K
MLBTR Prediction - $1.5 million
My Prediction - $1.5 million 

Justin Wilson

2015 Salary - $556K
MLBTR Prediction - $1.3 million
My Prediction - $1.5 million 

Didi Gregorius

2015 Salary - $554K
MLBTR Prediction - $2.1 million
My Prediction - $2.5 million 

Don Mattingly, It’s Time to Come on Home

Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers have mutually agreed that Mattingly would not be the manager of the team in 2016. In the world of political correctness, a world that I have grown up in, I think we all know that means Mattingly got fired yesterday. They may not want to say that in order to shield the organization from the backlash that is sure to come from the fans and the media but let’s call a spade a spade, Mattingly got canned because he led the team to three straight National League West Division Championships and did not deliver a World Series title in that span despite the team’s payroll exceeding $300 million (including luxury tax penalties) this season.

Don, I’m speaking directly to you here, it is time to come on home. I know the hitting coach for the New York Yankees is probably not the most prestigious job in the world and it’s absolutely a step in the wrong direction but I can guarantee you this, NO ONE (fan base wise) is going to appreciate you more than the fans of the New York Yankees. And, just as an FYI in case you’re worried about job security and having to up and move yet again in a few years, Joe Girardi has managed teams with huge payrolls to the postseason just four times in his six seasons since the 2009 World Series championship. You’re safe here, you’re needed here and most importantly you’re wanted here.

Right a wrong, a wrong made by the organization, and come on home Donnie. We miss you. 

Happy Joe Carter Day in Toronto? Maybe Soon

This also happened on this day in Major League history.... notice no bat flip here though. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/23: Enter Bob Watson

Watch the entire Game 3 of the 1996 World Series right here for FREE. Click above. 

On this day in 1996 David Cone shut down the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the 1996 World Series with the Yankees down two games to none. This would be the first of 14 consecutive World Series games victories for the Yankees before the New York Mets ended the streak in the 2000 Subway World Series.

Also on this day in 1995 the Yankees hired a new GM, replacing Gene Michael, in former Astros GM Bob Watson. Watson would only last two years in the Bronx before the Brian Cashman regime started after being upset with the "chain of command" in the Yankees organization, I think that probably means George Steinbrenner. Watson would be the GM when the Yankees would win their first World Series in 1978 when they were crowned the 1996 champions.