Well, with the launch of The Journal of Sports History earlier this week, I’ve decided to impliment a new feature for The Rumor Mill. As you can see, its called This Date in Baseball History. Every day I’ll pick out the event that I think had the biggest affect on our beloved game and talk about it. In the near future, I hope to have a list of several events in sports history located over at The Journal, however, I’ll be highlighting one specific event each day in this space.
1969 The New York Times reports Curt Flood will challenge the reserve clause by suing major league baseball.
On October 7th, 1969, the Cardinals traded Flood, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman **** Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. (Is it me or does that seem like the Cardinals got fleeced on that one?)
Anyway, Flood refused to report to the Phils. He didn’t like the stadium, the owner, or the fans. So, after consulting with his union representative, Flood made a move that would forever change baseball. He challenged the reserve clause.
In a letter to the commissioner, Flood wrote:
- December 24, 1969
- After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.
- It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decision. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season. (from Wikipedia.org)
When Flood’s request was denied, he sued Major League Baseball. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and featured players such as Jackie Robinson testifying, however, Flood lost the case on a 5-3 decision.
Despite the loss, Flood’s case had set the ball in motion and in 1975, an arbitrator struck down the reserve clause, ushering baseball into the age of free agency.
So, that’s what happened This Date in Baseball History. I hope you all will enjoy the new feature. Please feel free to offer your thoughts and input in the comments below.
Just a quick update to a previous story, the player’s union will apparently appeal the federal court ruling allowing prosecutors access to the names and urine samples of the "Dirty 100" (about 100 players who tested positive for steriods in 2003).
This story from ESPN.com has the full details. What follows should be read fairly quickly and with a raised voice. Yes ladies and gents, this is a rant. Consider yourself warned.
Donald Fehr’s quote that if the ruling "is allowed to stand, it will effectively repeal the Fourth Amendment for confidential electronic records" once again misses the point entirely. Fehr and his counterparts in the commissioners office, are the reason the sport is currently in this mess. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming in front of Congress before they allowed any testing at all so why should this move surprise anyone? Fehr and the player’s union is once again at risk of alienating the general public on the issue of steroids. Any player who didn’t cheat, should want to expose these 100 players simply to remove the dark cloud of suspicion that still lingers above our nation’s pastime. Prominant players should be standing up and fighting Fehr on this issue. However, you and I both know that’s not going to happen any time soon.
Fehr will argue that this could incriminate players and lead to arrests and prosecution of players (read as Barry "Chemical Ali" Bonds) on evidence that was (in his mind) illegally obtained. I would say "Fine, grant them all immunity and expose each and every name on that list." But, as we’ve also been made painfull aware over the past few years, commissioner Bud Selig is just as spineless and crooked as Fehr, and wouldn’t even give these players a slap on the wrist. The general public would likely vote half the players into the All Star starting lineup as we’ve seen in football with steroid user Shawn Merriam voted into the Pro Bowl and even discussed in Defensive Player of the Year conversations.
It has become obvious that the federal prosecutors and Congress are the only entities left that are willing to confront this issue head on. So to them I offer my undying gratitude and one simple request… nail these cheating ******** to the wall.
ESPN.com is reporting that Barry Zito has agreed in principal with the San Francisco Giants on a 7 year deal worth $126 million. A news conference is expected this afternoon to announce the deal.
In addition, "the deal, agreed to late Wednesday night, includes an $18 million option for 2014 that could increase the value to $144 million, an unidentified source told The Associated Press."
The will lock up the 28 year old lefty at least until he turns 34. Through 6 seasons of Major League service, Zito has racked up 100+ wins, 1000+ strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.55. While looking through Zito’s career statistics, I noticed something very interesting. The average annual value of $18 million is more than Zito has made in the past 4 years, COMBINED. In 2002, Zito received a $400k signing bonus and a salary of $500k. Over the next four years his salary rose to $900k, $2.5 million, $5.6 million, and $7.9 million respectively for a grand total of $17.8 million.
And that ladies and gentlemen, in case you were wondering, is why players continue to sign with Scott Boras.
Right about now is when Barry Zito’s faith in "super agent" Scott Boras is paying off. As the pool of free agent pitching dwindles and teams are learning what it would take to make trades happen, Zito’s stock has slowly been rising. While only a few teams (Rangers, Mets, and Mariners) considered themselves contenders for Zito’s services before this week, the New York Yankees entered the scene and lit a fire under the collective butts of any interested team.
Yesterday, the New York papers were full of Randy Johnson trade rumors and the possible Yankee signing of Barry Zito. Today, the New York Post claims that the Giants are "signaling to Scott Boras a willingness to exceed the magical $100 million barrier for Barry Zito." See what happens when the Yankees get involved?
The Mets have long been rumored to be the front-runner to land Zito, however, they’ve stuck to their guns about only giving the pitcher a 5 year deal. Boras of course is asking for 6 or 7 years (and possibly a farm as well). The Texas Rangers have given Boras a Saturday deadline to respond to their 6 year offer, but I hope they’re not holding their breath.
The Yankees on the other hand are still trying to deal the "Big Unit" and are reportedly asking for 3 pitching prospects from the Diamondbacks in return. If that deal happens, expect to see Zito’s price climb even higher.
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that government investigators are entitled to the names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive for illegal drug use in 2003. The ruling is a potentially historic and explosive development for MLB and its player’s union. Only a handful of players have tested positive since baseball toughened its testing policy, the most notable being Rafael Palmeiro. Any time a single positive test is announced it instantly becomes one of the top news items of the day. Sports talk shows around the nation talk about the player, the excuse given, and what it means for the game.Today’s ruling gave the federal prosecutors a list of 100 players who tested positive. According to ESPN.com, "players were told the results would be confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name." It now appears, that that confidentiality, along with the players’ reputations, is in serious jeopardy.
The issue of steroid use in baseball has been revitalized this winter as slugger Mark McGwire appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. McGwire instantly became the face of baseball’s denial of its rampant steroid problem when he repeatedly told a Senate Investigation committee that he "was not [there] to talk about the past." However, McGwire never once tested positive for banned or illegal substances and retired before testing became MLB policy. Embattled slugger, Barry Bonds, is another matter entirely. Bonds has been tested for steroids several times and his former personal trainer has plead guilty to charges stemming from the federal investigation of the BALCO supplement lab. Leaked testimony from Bonds’ grand jury appearance appeared in the book Game of Shadows and quoted Bonds as saying that he had no idea that the substances he was using on a daily basis were in fact steroids. The slugger reportedly went on to say that he had never tested positive for steroids.
Enter the testing data of 100 positive tests for steroid use among MLB players. If Bonds’ name appears on that list of the "Dirty 100", federal prosecutors might finally have enough evidence to charge the 42 year old single season home run record holder with perjury.
The fallout of this ruling will certainly affect more players than just Mr. Bonds. Major League teams have 45 players on their active roster. The government now has a list of players that tested positive for steroid use that is long enough to fill more than two full teams. Once the names start being leaked, and really it’s only a matter of time, there won’t be a player in the game who doesn’t have to once again deal with the question of whether or not his performance was chemically enhanced. And, for 100 players, unlike the argument against McGwire, there will be physical proof that they did indeed tarnish their team, their legacy, and ultimately the game.
Maybe this cartoon isn’t so far off the mark after all…
More Links About the Steroid Investigation in Baseball:
- http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=bayless/060310 (sorry, they’ve moved it to the subscriber only Insider section… I hate that by the way)
Great, now I’m going to have to send Brian Cashman and the Yankees a thank you note for the yule log they’ve just tossed into the Hot Stove. Reports are once again swirling that Yankee starter, Randy Johnson will soon be traded. The list of suitors is as long as Johnson is tall, and reportedly includes the Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, both LA teams, and the Seattle Mariners. Johnson lives in Arizona and spent several years with the Diamondbacks before becoming a Yankee, however Arizona’s East Valley Tribune stated that "The D-Backs’ offer, believed to include a package of young pitchers, is “significantly behind” an offer from San Diego. However, the Big Unit does possess a full no-trade clause so any potential deal, no matter how lucrative it would be for the Yankees, must first receive Johnson’s approval.
If the Yankees do succeed in dealing away the future hall-of-famer, the repercussions will be sweeping in scope. Barry Zito’s agent, Scott Boras, will immediately begin to play the two free spending New York teams against each other for his client’s services. The Texas Rangers have told Boras that they’d like an answer on their offer to Zito by this weekend but with the deep pockets of the Yankees overshadowing the entire process, that seems unlikely at best. Boras might be despised by many GM’s, but he’s no idiot. The fact that the Yankees entering the picture would increase his client’s value by millions is not likely to go unnoticed by the game’s top agent.
I made the mistake of logging in today and sure enough, there was news that needed to be posted. The Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to terms with former Cardinal pitcher Jeff Suppan. The deal is reportedly worth $42 million over 4 years and includes an optional 5th year or a buyout for $2 million.
Suppan started off last year poorly but had a fantastic second half posting a 2.39 ERA after the All Star Break. The durable right handed veteran then put together a terrific post season performance, highlighted by being named the MVP of the NLCS.
It had been assumed that Suppan would wait to sign until after Barry Zito had been signed, however, the Brewers offer was apparently enough to prompt the pitcher into action.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Just in case inspiration doesn’t come knocking on my door, with a gift of some creative Christmas post in hand, I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Well this isn’t exactly the rumors you’ve come to expect from this site but, I had to write about this. Apparently Florida Marlins ace, Dontrelle Willis, was arrested this morning on for allegedly driving while drunk. How did the officer know he was drunk? I’m so glad you asked.
Apparently, "An officer saw the former NL rookie of the year stop his black Bentley in the South Beach neighborhood, get out of the car around 4:30 a.m. and urinate in the street. Miami Beach police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said the officer noticed signs of intoxication as he approached Willis, who failed a field sobriety test."
That’s right, he pissed in the street. A 24 year old star baseball player making millions of dollars, managed to get himself arrested by peeing in the street. Fantastic. I’ve always been a fan of Willis’ play and personality on the field but this is simply unacceptable. For the life of me, I will never understand how a millionaire doesn’t simply call himself a limo. If you know you’re going out drinking, hire one before you leave! Sure it’s not your smooth looking Bently, but for crying out loud, its a LIMO! There’s simply never a situation in which anyone, not to mention a millionaire star player, can explain getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
In this case, Willis was lucky and didn’t kill anyone. In St. Louis, it doesn’t matter even if you DO kill someone. Star defenseman, Leonard Little, drove drunk and killed Susan Gutweiler, a wife and mother, and got off with 90 days in a city workhouse and 4 years probation. He’s still a millionaire star player and that woman is dead. Not only that, but Little was AGAIN arrested for drunken driving six years after causing that lethal accident. And yet, every Sunday, Rams fans all around St. Louis cheer for a murderer.
In my mind, Dontrelle Willis just fired a gun straight into a crowd. Luckily everyone got out of the way, however, actions such as this should NOT be tollerated by our society. I’m certainly no longer a fan of Willis and likely never will be. Unfortunately for people like Susan Gutweiler, star athletes will continue to praised and adorred by millions of fans (including judges and juries) no matter what their actions cost the rest of "normal" society.