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"Troubling Off-Season Trend Continues As Cubs Snag Yu Darvish At Reduced Rate"

I’m not the first person to note that in America 2018 the line between real headlines and satirical “Onion” headlines is very small. The headline in today’s post actually appeared this past weekend on Sports Illustrated’s si.com website.

Yu Darvish, the talented righthander from Japan who is partly of Iranian descent, has reportedly signed a 6-year $126 million contract with the Cubs. SI considers this amount a “reduced rate” for a pitcher with a history of injury who bombed out not once but twice in the World Series that the Dodgers lost last season to the Astros.

There are reports that three other big-name free agents - outfielder J.D.Martinez, pitcher Jake Arrieta, and first baseman Eric Hosmer all represented by super-agent Scott Boras - are thinking of sitting out some of the regular season - unless they get the years and the dollars they want, especially the years.

Hosmer, the defensively-solid line-drive hitting first sacker, is the youngest of the three at 28. San Diego reportedly wants him very badly, and reigning first baseman Will Myers is willing to move to left field to accommodate him. But Hosmer reportedly wants eight years instead of seven and a total amount of more than $160 million.

Boras, an avowed admirer of Marvin Miller (ignoring that Miller loathed agents that stressed the individual over the union), thinks there will always be an owner who will break down and want that "moose on the wall" and pay anything for it. He might yet be right.

How much is too much remains a good question. It is clear that the MLB Players Association has been outwitted by management in the five-year collective bargaining pact that still has three more years to run.

But it is just silly and petulant for some agents and players to threaten to boycott spring training. Maybe the eloquent but inexperienced Tony Clark needs more legal help at the MLBPA offices. But bad deals happen all the time in business and you live with it, fellas. Even at the "reduced rate" of tens of millions.

The key to building consistent contending teams remains a good organization that is constantly replenishing the system with high ceiling talent under control for at least a few years. A lot easier said, I know, than done.

BEFORE I LEAVE TODAY HERE’S A REPORT FROM THE THEATER:
Michael A. Jones’s play “The Black Babe Ruth” about Negro league legendary slugger Josh Gibson (played by Dave Roberts) is well worth a trip to the Theater for the New City in east Greenwich Village - 1st Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets.

Gibson's relationship with Satchel Paige (Daniel Danielson) is well conveyed. Kudos to the guitar and vocal work of Perci Prince that provides the glue connecting the scenes.

You have eight more chances to see this well-acted and crafted play through Sun Feb 25. Th-Sa at 8p, Su at 3p.

I was thrilled to be part of a panel after the Sun Feb 11 matinee that discussed the Negro leagues and baseball integration. With fellow SABR members Ralph Carhart and Phil Ross and playwright Jones, we covered a wide range of topics about baseball in segregated times.

I was glad to give homage to the pre-Jackie Robinson pioneers, among them Moses Fleetwood Walker, who briefly broke the color line in 1887, and Rube Foster organizer of first Negro league after World War I. Thanks to good work by moderator Janelle Lester, the producer of "The Black Babe Ruth," we got great contributions from the audience.

On the big topic of why there are fewer AfAms playing baseball today, the consensus was football and basketball, esp. the rise of Michael Jordan, has eclipsed baseball among the young people. Actress Daphne Danielle lamented that in her home state of Alabama there are many well-maintained baseball fields that are barely used.

I cross fingers that the increasing awareness of football’s physical dangers might provide an inroad for baseball. But it needs the kind of leadership that baseball scout John Tumminia has shown with his "Baseball Miracles" project bringing clinics to the underprivileged at home and overseas.

Check out baseballmiracles.org More on that remarkable development next time.

That’s all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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Teny Ymota's Mid-May Reflections on His Orioles

On Sunday afternoon May 15th the Orioles were four outs away from their first 8-game winning streak since 2005. But a missed checked swing call on Detroit's J.D. Martinez led to a game-tying HR to center field off usually reliable O's setup reliever Darren O'Day.

One pitch later Miguel Cabrera untied it with a homer of his own, the first time O'Day had given up back-to-back homers in five years. The usually classy O'Day groused afterwards about the missed strike three call by plate umpire Mark Wegner.

O'Day should have kept his yap shut. It's not a good example for young players when veterans snipe at umpires in front of the press. I saw a nicer thing watching on TV yesterday: Chris Tillman in the dugout probably explaining to Kevin Gausman some of the subtle aspects of the starting pitcher's craft.

Tillman has re-emerged as the ace of the Orioles' oft-maligned all-righthanded starting staff. He has won five games and has pitched deep into most games. Gausman can learn a lot from listening to Tillman.

Gausman remains winless in 2016 but was in line for the victory yesterday until the Tigers' home run barrage. Yet he only worked five innings and was lucky to give up just four runs because he didn't command his fast ball all game - his breaking pitches were also erratic. At least he didn't give up any crooked numbers, and he knows in five days he will pitch again.

The Orioles really stifled last year the development of the number 4 pick in the 2012 draft. Gausman kept shuttling back and forth between the Oriole bullpen and Triple A Norfolk. No way for any young player to develop that way. The greater minor league experience of rookie starters Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright have really aided them in the early going of 2016.

Ah the rigors and twists and turns of the long long baseball season. The Cubs even lost a doubleheader to the perpetually struggling Padres last week but they also put a good whipping on the rival Pirates before finally losing 2-1 to Gerrit Cole on Sunday.

My final note this entry is to congratulate the Princeton Tigers for beating Yale two out of three and earning the first bid to this year's NCAA tournament. Too bad a wild pitch by the Elis produced the winning run but it was a classic playoff series.

That's all for now - Teny Ymota - The Earl of New York Your Man On The Aisle - as always urges you to remember: Take it easy but take it!
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