Wimbledon 2019 Notes

The men’s final just completed between Novak Djokovic & Roger Federer was the greatest tennis match ever. Djokovic defeated Federer 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3); in a match that was impossible to determine who was going to win until the very end.

This match was broadcast exclusively on ESPN, meaning many US households that cut-the-cable/satellite-cord a long time ago, didn’t get to see this live. Perhaps this is why America hasn’t produced a homegrown men’s Grand Slam winner since Sampras, Agassi, etc?

The point is that the Wimbledon finals (men’s & women’s) needs to be broadcast on a major network. Wimbledon finals is the Super Bowl of tennis, so you want as many viewers as possible for advertisers. That’s the traditional theory of television advertising which everyone understands.

People in the US are interested in great sporting events, even if they don’t involve Americans. The USWNT in soccer just proved quality women’s competition garners serious interest on all sides in winning World Cup 2019.

With Wimbledon, ESPN and the major networks pandered to crude interests by not broadcasting the Federer-Nadal semifinal match, and both the men’s & women’s finals on a major network– meaning ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox. The games of tennis needs that exposure, and Disney, which owns ESPN & ABC made the conscious decision to stunt the growth of the game by keeping both finals on ESPN. In Sanford-Orlando, FL it was infomercials from car dealers on ABC during this instant classic, a ratings-loser move for sure.

On the women’s side, 7-seed Simona Halep defeated 11-seed Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the finals to win her 1st Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam. Bitch factor was kept mostly under control this time around.

Taking a closer look at Serena Williams’ 2019 Wimbledon run reveals (once again) that she played no top-quality opponents until the finals. She defeated 18-seed Julia Goerges in the 3rd Round, and 30-seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the 4th. Everyone else was unseeded, until Halep (pictured above) thrashed her in the finals.

The draws in the WTA majors are obviously constructed to keep Serena Williams in it as long as possible. Since Serena Williams’ “comeback” at the 2018 French Open, she has magically avoided playing Halep, Kerber, Muguruza, Osaka, Stephens, Sharapova, etc in her section of the draw in every major. How & why does that happen? Every time Williams has lost to one of these named above opponents, it has been in straight sets, which means it isn’t a fluke. You don’t see that deliberate favorable seeding of a top player in the ATP.

What I’ve noticed is that the women players have adapted. Simona Halep defeated unseeded Victoria Azarenka (always a tough opponent) in the 3rd round. Halep had to beat 8-seed Elina Svitolina in the semis. All her other opponents before the finals were unseeded. A bunch of big women names went down early again, and Halep’s path to the Wimbledon finals was also cleared. At this point, as long as Simona Halep is rested & healthy, she will beat Serena Williams. Halep is age 27, and Williams is 37. It appears the women are working together, taking turns denying Serena Williams another major. This is under-the-radar bitch factor at work, FYI.

The Serena Williams era in women’s tennis is at its end, as far as winning majors goes. Wimbledon is always her best shot with her dominant serve, and again she couldn’t come close to winning a set in the finals. This happened last year against Angelique Kerber, and then against Naomi Osaka at the US Open.

After her third straight Grand Slam final defeat, Serena Williams was inanely asked in her postmatch news conference whether she should focus on tennis over being a celebrity or fighting for equality. “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me [black] will be the day I’m in my grave,” Williams responded.

This was a shot across the bow of lesbian WTA legend Billie Jean King, who stated to the BBC mid-Wimbledon, “Quite frankly, if I were Serena, I would give up being a celebrity for a year and a half if she wants to win titles, if she wants to beat records, that’s the question. I don’t know what she wants.” King later tweeted to clarify her views after Serena Williams’ retort, saying she supported the work Serena Williams did to push for equality.

I find it interesting that Serena Williams who is worth over $180 million feels that she is fighting for equality, and so does Billie Jean King. Serena Williams is in the top 0.1% in terms of wealth, in the most unequal society in the world. Billie Jean King is obviously blinded by the politics here, but correct in that Serena Williams is living in a fantasy world, and that won’t win any more majors.

Sensationally [!] Serena Williams made a public apology to Naomi Osaka as the tournament began. Notably, her apology didn’t to extend to chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who was most abused by Serena Williams’ vile outburst at the 2018 US Open. Serena Williams only felt the need to apologize to a black woman, which says everything about her politics. Reactionary feminism & racialism to the core. That’s what pays today.

Does anyone else notice how well-coordinated all of Serena Williams’ media campaigns are? She got the cover of Harper’s Bazaar (above) as a platform for her apology to Naomi Osaka. That’s when the “time was right” for this super-connected & spoiled female athlete to burnish her image. What about the refused drug test at her home last June? What about TUE’s? What about the $10,000 fine for practice court abuse at Wimbledon a few days ago? How come no one in the corporate media asks these questions?

The Celebrity-Fan Zone:

Here is celebrity equality in action at Wimbledon. Actor Woody Harrelson was in attendance watching Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah win a four-and-three-quarter-hour epic in the Wimbledon men’s doubles final. But Woody Harrelson stole the show by being treated like an average fan by the Wimbledon security attendant, who wouldn’t let him back to his seat until the game was over.

Players don’t like fans moving about during a game, and therefore patrons must wait to move in or out of the stadium. Woody Harrelson acknowledged that, and sipped his drink in the tunnel while he waited. Lots of celebrities would flip out, instead of respecting the etiquette. Harrelson would tell you, it’s HARD WORK looking that goofy. HARD WORK!!

Theoretical tennis question for men: How good is Serena Williams?

Most men would lose 6-0, 6-0 to her, unless they are a really good player. If she double faults or hits one wide, you didn’t “win” that point, she gave it to you– so respect that difference. A “good player” is defined at minimum as: 1) an upper-tier D1 NCAA player, or 2) a top recreational player who bagels everybody he plays.

A quality male competitor with his serve should be able to win a few games against the greatest women’s player ever. But respect the fact that Serena Williams is an experienced professional, so consistency with her overall game bagels 99+% of males who ever picked up a tennis racket.

Conclusions:

The ATP is in its most glorious era ever, with the three greatest players ever winning every major in site. Federer still has 20 majors, Nadal 18, and Djokovic 16. I predict that when it’s all over, they’ll all be tied. How’s that for objectivity? Nadal (age 33) is still unbeatable on clay, and Djokovic (age 32) is barely the best on grass, while clearly the best on the hardcourts. Roger Federer turns age 38 on August 8, and for him to be a part of the latest “greatest match in tennis history,” says so much about his greatness.

The women’s game is in turnover, and there remain serious questions about the integrity of the seedings & draws in the WTA majors. With Serena Williams leaving the game, PED’s need to become an open discussion, as I believe the vast majority of women players favor strict bans on all usage.

The ubiquitous desire to be alpha-dominant on the men’s side, doesn’t exist so much with women in sports. Women generally favor comfort & safety over athletic glory. That’s why a hardened & overwhelming competitor like Serena Williams can come along and wipe everybody out for an era. It was amazing to watch, but the excesses & ethics of doping need to be considered in total. Is it worth it?

Her situation will eventually be viewed the same as Barry Bonds & Lance Armstrong. This means Serena Williams was clearly better than her competition, but still felt disrespected, slighted, provoked, or whatever into pushing the PED envelope. The truth is none of them needed it. Even if their numbers suffered a bit, they would still eventually be recognized as the best ever. But when you cheat, and deny it; the public has no tolerance for that. When this gives the best player an unfair edge, Serena Williams’ claims of fighting for equality come off as hypocritical nonsense.

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USWNT Wins 2019 World Cup

The USWNT won their 4th women’s World Cup beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the finals in Lyon, France today. Megan Rapinoe (PK) and Rose Lavelle scored in the mid second half, eight minutes apart to settle the match.

Rapinoe who plays professionally for the Seattle Reign FC won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer & the Golden Ball as its top player. Alex Morgan (below) of the Orlando Pride won the Silver Boot.

There have now been 8 women’s World Cup events since its inception in 1991. The US has won four times (1991, 1999, 2015 & 2019), Germany twice (2003 & 2007), Norway (1995) & Japan (2011) once.

There were many new trends in this tournament worth discussing from a sporting & social perspective. First, was former women’s players being allowed to dominate the broadcasts, lead discussion of rules disputes, and provide needed commentary where required. Most of it was spot-on, and much better than the hysterics & apologetics we get regularly in men’s FIFA. A pleasant eye-opener.

The women’s WC 2019 was also another advance for sports science, in that Video Assisted Replay (VAR) was given a chance, competently managed, and used effectively. There were issues early-on, for sure, but the women stuck with it and learned from their mistakes. They needed to, because there were a lot of blown calls by officials & lines-women in WC 2019.

The stat at the beginning of the Fox broadcast was 32 VAR’s as a tournament total before the finals, with 28 resulting overturned calls, and only 4 confirmed. As we can see, VAR certainly helped make up for really bad officiating, which is endemic in the women’s game, because it’s so much newer than men’s competition. To their credit, it takes courage to stand in the middle of the pitch, with headphones tuned-in to a replay booth and being overturned repeatedly, but that’s what it took for this tournament to be legitimate.

In the end, the best team won on their merits, and there is no controversy about a blown call costing a team a critical match. When the officials get overturned over & over, they review those mistakes, and learn from them. That’s what I saw in the end. As the final match began, there were a few seconds when a second ball was in the field-of-play, and the official & lines-woman didn’t blow their whistles– until it got embarrassing.

It was in the midfield, and it didn’t affect the match, but it’s worth noting the competence level of even the best women’s officials. There’s definitely room for improvement, and VAR can be helpful as a training & accountability tool. It always helps to get the call right, and that’s what VAR can do, so there are no more “Hand of God” goals ever again. That is the main takeaway in the women’s World Cup 2019 for men’s fútbol.

In the US_Netherlands finals, the woman official was excellent. There was a hard foul early-to-mid first half, which was immediately whistled and correctly yellow-carded. Making that correct call, at the correct, time gave the referee control of the match from there on. The players respect that call, and from there on she’s essentially coaching both sides equally to play the game fairly & competitively.

Lots of flops weren’t whistled, leaving wanna-be’s & fakers on the turf looking foolish, as they should. It was under control on both sides, which is the point of officiating. VAR got them there, with a steep learning curve. You have to respect that.

Here’s another one. The 23 players on the USWNT consider themselves to be a family, and stick up for each other. Their motivation was to win back-to-back World Cups– the right way. This isn’t a brutal hacking or flopping USWNT team. They probably take more than the give but they have to, being the overwhelming favorites going in, that’s what you have to deal with.

By the end, the USWNT was clearly the best, but with the caveat that the world has very much caught up. The US-England semi-final was a 2-1 squeaker without their captain & playmaker Megan Rapinoe. Only a blown penalty kick prevented that from being 2-2, and likely OT. With that said, championship teams need to be able to handle injuries & adversity, and they did it without coming off arrogant in the end. They respected their opponents & the game.

The USWNT did a fantastic job of pulling themselves back, especially after their perceived over-exuberance in their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand in their opening match. They apparently learned that winning is important, only if you do it in a way that lets people like you when it’s over. No one likes loudmouth showboats, no matter how good they are.

No one like cowards either, so when Donald Trump tried to inject himself into the narrative and grab himself some glory he doesn’t deserve, Megan Rapinoe spoke for the USWNT and took the media heat without backing down. She didn’t sing a word of the US national anthem as it was played before the finals, and she wasn’t alone on the US team. I respect that. The USWNT will not be visiting the White House for a ceremony, photo-ops & congratulations from the US President.

Rapinoe who is lesbian, has already said she will visit House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. My thoughts on that? When people back up their confident talk, then you have to give them their stage & let them speak, even if you don’t like what they’re going to say. The US has a president who doesn’t acknowledge that it is his sworn duty to defend the Constitution, whose First Amendment is free speech. The USWNT winning the 2019 World Cup the way they did, is a blow to Trump’s brand of fascism.

Standing cheers here for the USWNT!!!!

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ESPN.com shuts down fan comments: One year later

This is the 1-year anniversary of ESPN.com shutting down all its comment boards due to my posts, and this serial is the proof. Before this event, there was never any indication to anyone that the ESPN forum boards for every sport, and all their articles would no longer display or allow reader comments. ESPN has never made a public explanation for this policy change.

The background here is that Wimbledon was obviously fixed on the Women’s side, so I blew up the ESPN/tennis comments section– and people got angry on all sides. I believe the Serena Williams camp forced ESPN to shut down all ESPN website comments because she was looking really bad in the discussions among tennis fans. I was leading those discussions, but very soon I didn’t have to. Serena Williams’ apologists were being shouted down with calm reason, objective facts & countless unanswered questions by many fans.

I mistakenly thought this censorship was a targeted ban (just me) at the time, but it was universal– to my great surprise. I shouldn’t have been, as I did the same thing to MLB.com during the “Shohei Ohtani Affair,” and the collapse of the free-agency market due to MLBPA ignorance & duplicity. The MLB online comments board which had existed for years have disappeared. They connected thousands of MLB fans with their favorite teams, and created many new friendships. All that is now gone, because of MLB censorship.

No “outsider” criticism of MLB or ESPN can be tolerated in online boards, by the powers that be. Who do these neo-fascist censors think maintains the game? Answer: it’s the interest of the fans that pays for everything. When MLB & ESPN cut fans off from each other due to politics, fans lose interest because the game has been stolen from them.

When this occurs, there is little interest for me to report its internal news anymore. Eventually others feel the same and the bottom-line suffers, which is bad business. The big issues here are clear & unambiguous. Is MLB to be run by a cartel of powerful east coast owners who dominate the commissioner & executive offices? If malfeasance is suspected and evidence shown against MLB (and/or its favored franchises), then what?

These questions cut to the heart of the game, deciding who gets the best players and who does not. When a team that is not a “traditional power” thinks & acts outside-the-box to gain a competitive edge, they are reined in with suspensions & the threat of sanctions by this MLB cartel.

This was the case with San Diego Padres GM AJ Preller, who was suspended for one dull month in August 2016 by MLB for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” in the LHP Drew Pomeranz trade. The top-prospect the Padres received in return RHP Anderson Espinoza, has just undergone his 2nd Tommy John surgery, and will probably never reach the majors. Yet many in the Red Sox media still whine on this false narrative pushed by MLB.

The actual reason AJ Preller was suspended by MLB is because it was perceived the Padres won that trade by getting the Red Sox to overpay for a 4th-starter (Pomeranz), whom the Red Sox foolishly thought was a #2. Even though Preller lost the deal in the end, the Padres are still vilified because he made a big-wheel GM (Dave Dombrowski) look bad in his valuing of MLB talent. That is a contentious truth for Red Sox Nation, believe me.

AJ Preller was also targeted in winter 2017 when Buster Olney acted as Boston Red Sox hatchet-man using his ESPN media clout to threaten sanctions on the Padres if they didn’t give up their pursuit of prized Japanese free-agent pitcher & hitter Shohei Ohtani. That was a clear case of the Red Sox tampering to prevent a hated rival (Padres) from getting a free-agent prize. Preller had to kick Ohtani to his buddy Billy Eppler, Angels GM, to avoid the wrath of MLB.

No one at MLB.com or ESPN ever explained how Ohtani became an Angel, when it looked like the San Diego Padres had him for sure. Here was my real-time serial which is mostly wrong (in that Shohei Ohtani will not become a Padre), until it reveals a greater (& nastier) truth at the end, which is the MLB Black Hand in action.

Coincidentally, this is when MLB.com went black on it’s comment boards for a day or so, and then reset everybody anew with no old content available for viewing. A year later the comments were all gone everywhere on the MLB site, and remain so as of this publication.

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Ballers & Bums

INTRO: Basketball is not an easy game to play well. It takes a long time to develop ambidextrous dribbling, passing & shooting skills that can hold up with & against real ballers. Beyond that, skills without-the-ball are elite, and enable the baller to help his team win, even when his “teammates” aren’t sharing the ball. It is very rare to find five players with ability, playing together and sharing the work needed to win. The ones who understand and do the work consistently are the ballers. The rest are basketball wanna-be’s & bums.

Here’s some basic basketball theory. If everyone is sharing the ball equally on offense, you will have the ball 20% of the time you are on the floor. This is ideal, but rarely occurs anywhere– even in the NBA. But the other half of the game is defense, which means you have the ball only 10% of your minutes played– in the best of circumstances.

Even the worst pick-up game ballhogs are without the ball for two-thirds of the game. As a player, what are they doing during this majority of the game to help their team win? Most guys who strut onto the court don’t even think about this stuff, yet it is the essence of winning basketball. Those are the basketball bums.

The truth is most guys walk onto the court in a full-blown ego trip. They think they’re a superstar, and nothing can refute that narrative in their head. So when reality bites, and their bad play inevitably starts to show up as a losing score, these basketball bums turn into bitches.

For example: the basketball bum make a bad pass, so he blames a teammate they don’t like for not being there to catch it. On defense, bums let their man blow-by for a clear path to the basket & easy lay-up. The next time this happens, the baller anticipates & slides over to cut that off, but the penetrator kicks to your man left open for an easy 3– which he nails.

The bum tries to blame you for leaving the shooter open, so the baller replies, “Play some ‘D’ and quit letting your man blow-by for easy lay-ups, and I’ll stick with my man.” That handles the bum for the moment, but he’ll be back soon enough with more trash, unless the baller gets some help. If it’s all bums, then it’s hopeless after a game or two, and best to walk away, even mid-game.

Ballers don’t let the bums drag them down. If you’re done with their nonsense before the game is over, just look for someone waiting to play and call them in to take your spot. Since these bums never gave any effort, no need to explain anything nor apologize to them– just leave quietly. This is where patience meets experience, saving you harsh words that bruise tender egos. Ballers don’t pander to that, nor do they leave the court with any personal negativity.

You really have to know the game to handle trash-talking in hoops, because there is a whole lot of stupidity on most courts. This article is about pick-up basketball, either in a gym or outdoors, because that’s the level most people play. I don’t need to tell the pros this stuff, because they already know, it’s just that I’m a better writer.

The first thing to notice is that the game of basketball moves quickly, and it’s the players who responds first & most appropriately that always win the trash-talking battle. That’s the baller in a game filled with bums.

In pick-up/playground basketball, the shooting percentages tend to equalize on both sides, and are low– due to too many bad shoots taken by bad shooters. As in real basketball, it’s the team that rebounds, limits turnovers, and gets the most easy baskets which wins. In most pick-up games which I’ve witnessed and/or participated, there are at least 7-8 bums on the court. This makes the game a lot more work for the ballers, and it’s the main reason why I don’t run much anymore.

Bums won’t pass the ball to a baller, because he will score easily– where the bums can’t. Dicks immediately shrink, and then there’s issues… Every bum bitches about not getting the ball enough. The worst ones are the “big guys,” who won’t defend in the paint– nor rebound. They want to play point guard & shoot 3’s all day. When they don’t get enough of that, these bums become completely toxic, and that “team” basically can’t beat anybody.

You must control your defensive boards, or you have no chance to win, and that’s up to the big guys. Too many tall kids want to play like Steph Curry or James Harden. A lot of bum teams seemingly have 3-4 point guards– at least. Much of the hardcourt pick-up action can’t even rightfully be called basketball, as it’s mostly guys playing with themselves & their buddies.

Bums break down on defense, then blame others to deflect their lack of effort, basketball intelligence & skills. On a real court, with real ballers, these bums are given a swift kick in the ass about stupid turnovers, bad shots, and not defending/rebounding. If they don’t turn it around, they get sent off the court by the big guy, and replaced with someone waiting to play who is willing to do the job. I’ve been one of those guys picked to replace a bum by a real baller on a real court, and it feels great to be chosen.

In the game of basketball, one guy can break down an entire defense on every possession, if the opposition is smart & can play. If this isn’t accounted for, it really sucks for the other four guys, and it isn’t fair to those who are giving an honest effort. Running up & down the court is a lot of work, and no one likes their efforts to be wasted.

Baller rule: Kick the bums off the court, mid-game if needed. In real basketball, no bums & bitches are allowed. That goes for the girls & women too. You know what I mean.

Big guys have to play big, and everyone should try to play above their size. This means “little guys” have low-post skills & can finish around the basket, and everybody rebounds on both ends as needed. Big guys have to control the paint & rebound, otherwise they are basketball bums.

Little guys have to pressure the ball to prevent penetration and easy low-post feeds, while keeping their man in front of them and not giving up easy 3’s. If you can force steals, and limit the turnovers, then congratulations [!] you are a winning basketball player, even though you are out-sized.

It’s a big man’s game, and size rules in basketball. The cliché goes: you can’t teach 7’0″. The fact is the closer you are to the goal, the better you can attack & defend it. Little guys can influence the action without-the-ball even when they are being frozen out, by running (when necessary) to create movement within the offense.

Another elite without-the-ball skill is spacing. Move to the side of the floor opposite the ball, and stay there. This will at least draw your man away from the basket, and create needed space for others to drive. How long you want to do this without receiving a pass is up to you. Keep making yourself available on that side and when you’ve had enough, quit the game as instructed above.

I see all kinds of games where all 10 players are on the same side of the court, or everyone is standing behind the 3-point line. Bums take their turns jacking up bad shots from downtown, and it’s one low-percentage give-away possession after another. Proper spacing, intelligent movement & effective screening are non-existent in a game filled with bums. Good players rarely get the ball here, and have nowhere to go when they do, as “teammates” are literally obstacles.

Baller notes on ’21’ Twenty-one is often a scam pick-up game, and this is how it works. A group of guys who know each other, call you over to play 21. The game’s objective is to get exactly 21 points before anyone else, in a half-court setting. This can be a fun version of basketball when everyone is playing equally. But in the common scenario I’ve presumed, it turns into an unwinnable game of one-against-the-rest. The outsider has to fight for every rebound & score, against a gang of buddies taking turns letting each other get easy shots. Since you can’t defend everybody, you just wear yourself out when you try.

It’s Mission Impossible to win, so focus on improving your skills instead. If you’re going to play this bastardized version of ’21’, my best advice is to get straight on the rules with everybody before you start. Everything from scoring, to takes-backs for steals & airballs, etc. The ones who want to cheat are those who are confused about the rules, and hamper discussing them.

I’ve played against chumps who declare they can win ’21’ on 22. The rule of ’21’ has always been if you land on 20 points, you go back to 15 or whatever lower score you agree on. That’s because the next bucket get you to 22. It’s like blackjack when you bust. The basketball version of ’21’ was developed & widely-played long before the advent of the 3-point shot. Today, that means if you have 19 points and then make a 3-pointer, you drop back to 15. As a rules side note, the dumb shooter still gets his free throws (today @ 3-point line), because he did make the shot. Only chumps think they win on weak stuff like that, because ballers aren’t defending a 3-point attempt in that situation.

Basketball is a beautiful game when played right. In my life I can recall only a handful of times where everything was right with my game & teammates. But when it happens it is magical in its effortlessness & efficacy. When the work load is shared by 5 ballers, no one gets tired & worn out. Everyone is working in synergy to shut down the opponent, no easy looks & no second shots.

Transition to offense begins with boxing-out and securing the rebound, which is immediately outletted to a good ball-handler & pushed up-court for a fast break opportunity. Everyone gets their looks, and the rule is to finish– no excuses.

Very few see the work that goes into making it appear so easy when done right, and even fewer are willing to do that work to become a baller. What I’ve described here is what it takes. Players as true teammates energize each other at this level, allowing elite maintenance with little fatigue & maximum fun.

In pick-up ball, an organized team of ballers can steamroll every opponent for hours on end because of this. The few times I’ve been a part of such an experience are what makes the game an addicting elation. This is where creativity & skill blend, and the game of basketball become as much an art form as a sport.

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The Disposable Superstar


Here’s a Kevin Durant status blurb before Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in which he did not play.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said early in the series that he did not want to play Durant without first going through a full practice. Kerr told reporters on Wednesday that he thought Durant would scrimmage on Thursday [June 5], a meaningful step in returning to action. Yet Warriors trainers did not feel Durant should scrimmage. Kerr said Durant had not had a setback.

The Golden State Warriors announced before Game 5 [June 10] of the NBA Finals that Kevin Durant was cleared to play, with “no possibility of injuring his right Achilles tendon”– their only concern was a “tweak” of his injured calf (gastronemius) muscle. This is what the ABC announcers relayed to their viewers just before tip-off.

Well, the Warriors won 106-105 to extend the series another game, but Kevin Durant tore his Achilles tendon during the game. This was nothing less than a medically irresponsible decision. No one in the organization has seriously stepped up to take the blame they deserve for this potentially career-ending injury to one of the game’s greatest stars.

As in any other industry under capitalism, it’s only defeating the competition that matters in business. The Golden State Warriors are a successful pro basketball franchise, winning three NBA titles in the last four seasons. Their overwhelming desire to win another one was the primary factor in pushing Kevin Durant back onto the court, when he clearly wasn’t ready to play.

Anyone watching the 1st quarter of Game 5 could see that Kevin Durant was not moving well from the start, even when he made his first three 3-point attempts. The first time he tried to make a real basketball move, his Achilles tendon ruptured, and he fell to the floor in pain. Evidentially, there were at least a few trainers from the Warriors who didn’t want Durant to play, but they were overruled by management.

Golden State general manager Bob Myers said after Monday’s game, “It’s an Achilles injury. I don’t know the extent of it. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow . Prior to coming back, he went through four weeks with a medical team, and it was thorough, and it was experts and multiple MRI’s and multiple doctors, and we felt good about the process. He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame.

“If you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department. And to tell you something about Kevin Durant: Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong.

“He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him. I don’t know — I don’t have all the information on what really the extent of what it all means until we get an MRI, but the people that worked with him and cleared him are good people. They’re good people.”

This is shameful deflection, apologetics & self-pity from a GM, meant to misdirect responsibility for coercing a star player into playing when he shouldn’t have been cleared medically. Doctors need to have final say when it comes to clearing an athlete, with no organizational or corporate interference. Otherwise this avoidable tragedy will continue to play out in professional sports.

As Charles Barkley points out in the video above, players always want to play. That’s their nature. It’s the responsibility of management (with all its resources) to protect its players, for the good of the game.

If this means sacrificing the 2019 NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors — so be it. Players are assets in a business sense, to be exploited for maximum advantage in competition. But they are also human beings with physical limitations, and this should always be a primary consideration. It wasn’t here, and the culprits are all-too-obvious.

Everything Charles Barkley says about the Golden State Warriors being negligent is correct. How do we know they were negligent? Because Kevin Durant immediately got hurt again. That doesn’t happen to an elite athlete who is healthy & rehabilitated.

The talk around the league now centers around how this will affect the rest of the NBA Finals, and even more importantly– free agency this summer. Kevin Durant was set to be the top prize this off-season, along with Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors.

Now Durant will not play in 2019-20, so he’ll exercise his $31.5M option to stay with Golden State. He’s fortunate in that sense that he has that option. The question remains: what will Kevin Durant be like if/when he returns? Achilles tears are a difficult rehabilitation, and often the athlete is never the same again. All this could have been avoided, if the Warriors had taken a human & medical interest in Kevin Durant, instead of rushing the basketball star back onto the court in a desperate attempt to win another NBA title.

Winners don’t make short-sighted decisions like the Warriors made before Game 5. Blame GM Bob Myers first & foremost, then head coach Steve Kerr, and then every member of management & their medical staff that pushed Kevin Durant into playing, or underplayed the injury risk.

Team owner(s) sign the paychecks and can be a bullying force too. Was that the case here? That’s a lot of investigating & accountability. I don’t expect much of this to be done by the NBA. So how can blame be properly assigned? That’s why I (and many others) don’t watch much of this game anymore.

As far as the media goes, ESPN has major broadcast deals with the NFL (first & foremost), college football second, and then the NBA. Therefore ESPN, the “world sports leader” will report no dirt that hurts on this matter. Honest in-house reporting would cut across ESPN corporate interests. Only independent journalists will uncover the names & facts here, and I leave it to them to do it– if they care.

The goal in management under our current economic set-up is to always avoid blame, and transfer the responsibility for mistakes to others in a lesser position of power. Therefore there will (most likely) be no long-term consequences for anyone, except Durant. No one will get fired or punished for negligence & incompetence, and all NBA franchises retain the right to coerce their players into getting hurt– for the good of the team.

The most relevant comparable example of this nefarious manipulation is the Curt Schilling “bloody sock” game (photo above) in the 2004 ALCS against the NY Yankees. The Boston Red Sox needed Schilling to pitch, despite a torn Achilles tendon, otherwise they would be eliminated. Schilling pitched gruesomely & brilliantly, as they won. He pitched one more game in the World Series, as the Red Sox ended “The Curse.”

These heroics forever glorified the athlete who is willing to do anything to help his team win. What gets left behind is that Curt Schilling was never the same pitcher again, because of this injury abuse. Look at the numbers for proof. Schilling probably doesn’t regret any of this, because that’s the competitor he is, helping his team win when they needed him most.

For those of us who say that sports are about much more than winning, the precedent he set with his “heroics” was a bad one. No athlete should have to risk their health & career for his or her team. The fans who cheer during the game, quickly forget about the players when it’s over. Very few in their lust for victory question the heroic approach. It’s the injured athletes who have to live with the lifetime consequences of being treated as disposable commodities. Where’s the glory in that?

Thur 13 Jun 2019 ~9:30 AM EDT

Final wrap-up: Kevin Durant had surgery on Wednesday, June 12 for his ruptured Achilles tendon. ESPN & the NBA have gone into overdrive trying to spin this foolish catastrophe caused by misguided ambition for basketball glory into a glorifying moment of team fandom.

It’s clear that even Durant himself has been made to “play ball,” and quietly accept his fate. That’s what his $31.5M option buys for the Golden State Warriors, since Durant can’t play anymore. He’s a team player, and who can refuse THAT money? I don’t blame him.

The official narrative is that everyone in the Warriors organization was “on the same page” with allowing Kevin Durant to play hurt, which (by that logic) makes their disastrous & careless decision okay. As long as they were all wrong together, the main thing is team unity!

This is ignorant group-think & media apologetics after-the-fact. Expect nothing else from ESPN, ABC & the NBA. All this garbage must be rejected with contempt by any rational & thinking sports fan, otherwise these senseless injuries, driven by corporate greed, will continue.

In the bigger picture, if this can happen to one of the NBA’s greatest stars, then it’s clear we all have become disposable to our paymasters. If a player with Durant’s stature & clout can’t resist the corporate pressure to conform, and sacrifice his right Achilles tendon for a lost cause, then what chance does an ordinary worker have in rejecting unreasonable demands from their bosses?

Fri 14 Jun 2019 12:57 AM EDT

Game 6 final score: Raptors 114 Warriors 110. Raptors win the series 4-2 and are the 2019 NBA Champions. The refs did everything they could to bring us a Game 7, but the Warriors sustained another injury to a key player in Klay Thompson, and the Raptors are just a better team at this point.

When this series was set to begin, the Warriors were already being christened a NBA dynasty, about to win their 4th title in 5 seasons. Yes, they had lost Kevin Durant to a severe calf strain already, but they still managed to handle their biggest rival, the Houston Rockets before sweeping the Portland Trailblazers in the conference finals. All this without their best player, Kevin Durant.

The path that lay ahead seemed clear: win the NBA Finals, then resign Durant and win a few more titles. Two weeks later, everything is in ruins for the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant is now gone from basketball, pending a long & painful rehabilitation. Just getting back on the court again will be an accomplishment for him. In my legal opinion, the Golden State Warriors & NBA owe him hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages.

Klay Thompson was seen leaving Oracle Arena on crutches, from a knee injury he sustained late in the game. All that’s left is Steph Curry who is still great, but not enough to win it all. This franchise went from league darling, to crashing itself into a mountain during this fateful NBA Finals.

I’ve never witnessed anything like this in sports before. If the Warriors had not played Kevin Durant in Game 5, they would have lost this series 4-1. Now that it’s over, the question forever remains: Was the sacrifice of Kevin Durant’s career worth it?

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“Fernando (Tatis, Jr)”

Every great player needs a theme song. This kid (age 20) is going to be a great player.

So here’s my “Weird Al” Yankovic version of “Fernando,” the ABBA melodramatic classic…

Note: There’s only the opening two verses in my version, because he’s still a rookie.

“Fernando (Tatis, Jr)”

Can you hear the drums Fernando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight Fernando
You were traded from the White Sox, by an owner who had no clue
We saw the Padres future at shortstop
And waited patiently through the minors just for you

Now you’re in MLB, Fernando
Every hour, every minute seems to last eternally
I was so afraid Fernando
When you tore your hamstring on a painful stretching try
And I’m not ashamed to say
That gruesome injury almost made me cry…

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you & me, Padres victory, Fernando
Though we never thought we’d dump James Shields– there’s no regret
If we had to make that trade again
We would, my friend, Fernando
If we had to make that trade again
We would, my friend, Fernando

[Listen to ABBA original 3rd verse in solemn silence for his father; then repeat chorus & fade out..]

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Summarizing Fat Loss & Back Injuries

My discussions of hip & back injuries has led to a revolution in thinking on rehabilitation & athletic training. Beginning with Undiagnosed Hip Injuries & Stubborn Fat Loss, I theorized that most humans are suffering from a variety of back & hip injuries, discussed the science, and then presented a rehabilitation program.

I’ve used neurology as the primary anatomical science, since all muscles are connected to nerves. The idea is to stimulate these nerves in the right way, in order to re-activate atrophied muscles. This is a rehabilitation process that can take years for severe & long-standing hip/back injuries.

Note that this is much different from the traditional short-term approach to rehabilitation. Many of these programs don’t target the injury deep enough, for fear on eliciting pain, and only superficiality “rehabilitate.” The injury victim incorrectly believes he/she is back to normal, when in fact they have decreased mobility in their trunk, which then deactivates corresponding musculature in every branch, so as to not provoke injury & pain radially.

Misguided patients will work out incessantly, building only certain (non-injured) muscle groups, while neglecting the atrophied source of their problem. Eventually these individuals breakdown in pain, despite their dedication to exercise. The truth is, they were afraid to face the depth of their pain, and too ignorant to learn the necessary anatomical & physiological realities needed to deal with these injuries.

The deepest pain is in the spine. Here it is most intense to release, but that’s where you have to go in order to fully rehabilitate. Half-hearted efforts are no good. You either acknowledge this & handle it, or the pain handles you.

Here’s a link to the latest scientific obesity study in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 40% of today’s US adults are obese, and over two-thirds are classified as overweight. About 20% of children (age 2-19) are obese. This is a serious health crisis. At this point, having a healthy body makes you extraordinary, when it used to be ordinary.

So how can we be healthier? First, eat right. Vegetables, fruits, tubers & nuts go a long way. Local & organic are more nutrient dense, which is what your body needs. Drink water. You are what you eat. It costs more to be good to yourself here, but it’s worth it. Cut out something else you don’t need to make up the difference, if you are on a budget. Most people eat too much meat.

You must get enough sleep, and it must be of good quality. Pain interferes with sleep. Many people take narcotic analgesics and other sleep-interfering medications, just to get a minimal amount of poor rest. The pain that our society is not dealing with, has led to dysfunction everywhere, most starkly illustrated by the opioid crisis which has been going on for decades.

As we get sicker & fatter, we become more dependent on pills to numb the pain, just to keep us going. The questions most people never ask themselves are, “What am I doing this for?”, or “Are we just automatons to be kept working, indulged & anesthetized for our entire existence?” It doesn’t even seem right to call that a “life.” Work, pain, narcotic escapism, and then death is a failure of capitalism, in that our species doesn’t realize its own true worth, and rewards the wrong values.

What releasing the pain does is improve our health & decision making. It is impossible to make consistently correct decisions when suffering from pain. Pain is physical & emotional, and we all want it to go away. If that isn’t possible (or isn’t presented as a possibility), then (at least) we want the pain diminished. Most humans living on this planet today are in pain. The above-cited obesity rates prove that point.

If we don’t handle our pain, individually and as a civilization, then we as a species won’t survive. when someone with enough power decides they can’t take the pain anymore, it will end for everybody. That’s why I consider these writings my most-important contribution, as this applies to everybody, regardless of artistic sensibility, class, or politics. Humans can’t escape science, anatomy & physiology. Therefore it must rule our existence, over religion & money. That’s the only way to relieve the pain.

As explained earlier, fat needs to be reconsidered entirely. Fat comes in two forms: visceral & subcutaneous. Visceral fat is excess potential energy– stored everywhere. Subcutaneous fat is the “stubborn fat” on the belly, lower back, thighs & butt– which most people can’t lose. The reason for this is because they take the wrong approach, and don’t understand the differences between the two forms of fat.

To illustrate their differences, lets describe the extremely obese individual. This person (male or female) has both forms of fat in excess, but their first priority is to lose their visceral fat, which forms everywhere, including around the internal organs, clogging the arteries, etc.

Free radicals & carcinogens have room to hide here too, and this is why diseases like cancer & dementia are linked with obesity. This life-shortening health risk must be dealt with correctly, otherwise the obese individual stays in pain until he/she dies a miserable death. This visceral fat can be easily lost with proper diet & exercise.

Subcutaneous is different from visceral fat, in physiology & characteristics. Subcutaneous fat clings to the belly, back, thighs & butt– despite all the diet & hard work. Clearly, a different approach is needed to conquer stubborn (subcutaneous) fat. Encased inside stubborn fat is atrophied muscle, which needs to be gently re-activated through rehabilitation. Trying to liposuction subcutaneous fat is a really bad idea.

You have to understand anatomy to reach the atrophied muscles encased in stubborn fat, in order to activate these neurons & their muscles, which then removes the stubborn fat. Most traditional workouts don’t target the deep-injury areas, so they are useless against stubborn fat. If you exercise everything around the injury, but never go after the root of the pain, then you will get middling results no one wants to look at.

As a rule, stretching & tension bands are more helpful than free weights, but you do need to mix it up sometimes. The bones and muscles in the lower spine are tiny, and need gentle but sustained stimulation, with specific targeting, in order to rehabilitate any injuries to them. Walk & swim as much as possible.

The reason obese people don’t deal with their fat problem is because of the pain. As stated before, pain is physical & psychological. When muscles atrophy, the joints calcify as a protective mechanism. All voluntary muscles in the human body have insertions that ultimately end in the head & feet. This is how stubborn fat is formed, and it becomes most noticeable after we reach our athletic peak at around age 27.

The feet are where many calcifications occur, due to gravity. This is commonly called gout, or bunions, which is nothing more than the small bones of the feet being calcified together. A hip, knee, or ankle sprain causes a histamine reaction. If the victim never fully rehabilitates, the histamine sediment settles in the feet and becomes gout.

Even if there’s an injury in one foot, the contralateral foot will eventually lock up with gout. Histamines flow through-out the body, and they will compensate for the immobility in the other foot. Both feet have to be equal over the long-term, otherwise further injuries occur. The contralateral “healthy foot” in our example gets “locked-up” to equalize and prevent a blow-out. Obviously performance suffers. Today, most adults have feet with more rock (gout) in them than actual muscle. It is impossible to lose any stubborn fat without getting the gout out. Foot surgery with pins, etc. is also a bad idea in most cases.

The muscles in the abdomen & lower back run into the feet. They also run up to the neck & head, as this is how humans can stand & walk upright. The weakest link in the human kinetic chain is the spine. Our backs are exquisitely evolved, but also fragile and susceptible to injury. Any back injury affects the entire body, from head to toe. That needs to be understood as an anatomical fact, when rehabilitating.

Once a calcification breaks in the foot, it immediately activates and breaks the corresponding calcification in the core/back area. Then (if stimulated by upper body action), it will pop all the connected calcifications in the upper body, through the head. This needs to be done over & over, for a long period of time, to completely rehabilitate a serious back injury.

The process I’m describing entails activating the lower back and stretching the legs & feet. When calcifications are broken apart in a controlled & scientific manner, it releases energy which can be used downstream (& upstream) to dissolve more calcifications. This creates a positive feedback loop, which gives the rehabilitation process a momentum of its own. A huge problem in rehabilitation is staying motivated. Anything that comes from within and makes this difficult process easier, should be used to its fullest extent.

As mentioned, a back injury can affect the muscles in the face. Not only does the victim have pain which makes it harder to smile, but also the facial muscles don’t work as well, making smiling even more difficult. On top of all that, the muscles of facial expression can’t be in balance if the bite & TMJ aren’t in balance. No one likes someone who can’t smile, so find a real dentist who understands occlusion & proper TMJ function.

I am a professional dentist with 25 years in practice and a 5-star reputation, and it is my experience that ~98% of people need their bite adjusted, even if they’ve had orthodontics. Sometimes it’s just slightly, but often they need significant adjustments. A properly adjusted bite, done by an experienced dental professional, can make a huge difference in the level of facial pain. The results are painless, immediate & lasting.

Our teeth are covered in enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. That means there is no give to them. If the bite is off, and it goes undiagnosed, this eventually leads to pain in the forms of: abscesses, tooth mobility, broken teeth/restorations, grinding, migraines, and TMJ disorders. This is the only part of the rehabilitation process that you can’t fix yourself.

Here are a few final notes on this rehabilitation process:

1) Sleep on the ground. Our ancient ancestors did this, so there’s no good reason were can’t. The reason we don’t is because we prefer comfort. For many it hurts to sleep on the floor. The hard surface will wake you at first, but then you deal with it, by stretching & moving energy to relieve the pain, so you can get back to sleep. Do this, and over time sleeping on the ground becomes easier and more natural.

2) Yawning is the release of cranial pain. Our brains don’t feel pain in the normal sense. It is my conclusion that yawning is the release of fatigue and other elements of pain in the brain. Whenever I sent massive amounts of released energy up my spine and into the cranial nerves & brain-stem, I was overcome by waves of yawning. Sometimes it went on for hours. I felt my senses (vision, hearing, balance, etc– all controlled by the 12 cranial nerves), sharpen as the fatigue was being relieved by yawning. Our sleep-wake & breathing cycles are controlled by the pons medulla. Calcifications in the head & neck will interfere with the function of this vital brain-stem area.

3) Hiccups are definitely made worse by loss of control of the core muscles. The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle, and therefore a back injury will disable it.

4) When a hip & back injury isn’t fully rehabilitated, other injuries will stack on top. This affects voluntary & involuntary muscles.

5) Strive to become an ambidextrous athlete. This makes you superior, and better equipped to resist injuries.

6) A ripped abdomen is a clear sign of complete physical health, and is always considered most attractive by the opposite sex. In health, this is what motivates us above all else.

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Manny Machado Signs Record Free Agent Deal with the Padres

This didn’t seem possible a few weeks back, but in the end the San Diego Padres have signed the biggest MLB free-agent prize of this winter. Manny Machado is a SS, but will soon move to 3B when top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr (acquired James Shields to White Sox) arrives sometime in 2019. Along with prospect hitting-machine 2B Luis Urias, the Padres have a good infield that will be under team control through at least 2022.

Their current outfield mix is young and has upside, with legit prospects in the minors. All their stud pitching is in the minors, and the first wave is set to arrive in 2019. RHP Chris Paddack (Fernando Rodney to the Marlins), & LHP Logan Allen (Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox) will get their first opportunities in 2019.

The Machado signing signals the Padres will be aggressive in bringing their young pitchers up. The Padres haven’t made any free-agent pitching acquisitions in the off season, starter or reliever, that will pitch for them in 2019. The signal is that they believe in their young talent and are ready to promote their top performers to Petco. Padres fans have never seen anything like this in franchise history: a fertile farm system, along with ownership that spends on free agent talent as needed. In the last two off seasons, the Padres have signed the 2 richest free agents: 1B Eric Hosmer $144M last winter, and now SS/3B Manny Machado for 10 years, $300M.

Note that all the arguments & protests made by veteran MLB players & know-nothing media pundits over “collusion,” have now fallen to the wayside. There is no collusion in modern MLB free agency. There is only MLBPA stupidity & blindness, by agreeing to a system that will only reward the biggest stars, and freeze out the rest. Outspoken players should re-direct their anger towards those who agreed to this rotten CBA deal. The word is RF Bryce Harper is about to sign a deal with the Phillies. Whether it is more or less than Machado’s deal is irrelevant, next to the bigger point, which is that no one else will get anything close to what these two get.

Lefty starter Dallas Keuchel & righty reliever Craig Kimbrel remain available, and can be had for a song. The reason they are still available is because they probably don’t have much left, and are high-risk signings that also cost a high draft pick. That’s the value killer. Impending free agents (who aren’t superstars) that are made qualifying offers, need to start taking them.

A player can only be offered a QO once, so by accepting, they become unrestricted free agents the next winter. Otherwise, they’re taking less money under this system. Both Keuchel & Kimbrel refused a $17.9M qualifying offer (QO) offer by their clubs last November. This isn’t collusion, it’s lack of understanding by the MLB players, MLBPA bureaucrats & their agents.

Keuchel won’t get a multi-year deal that matches the AAV of his QO, and Kimbrel probably won’t even get $10M on a 1-year deal at this point. The Red Sox have said they can’t afford him, as he puts them over the luxury tax threshold, which means his salary would cost ~50% more (in MLB penalty taxes) if the Red Sox re-sign him. That’s the only team that doesn’t lose a pick if they sign him, saying they won’t sign him. So who wants him? Answer: No one who spends big money on a closer.

Kimbrel & his agent should have seen this early, and lowered their demands. Now it’s too late, and Kimbrel is at the mercy of the market full of hungry vultures who missed out on the real prizes, and are now bargain shopping. The 6/$80M deal Craig Kimbrel was seeking has not materialized, and now he’ll have to take whatever he can get– just like the rest of the remaining free agents. Those non-superstar free agents who signed early (generally speaking) got the best deals. Those who held out, got left behind. So when the Twins, etc, come a-calling with their low-ball offers, remaining free-agents better be ready to sign.

Pitchers & catchers have been in camp for a week, and by now all the signed players have reported too. When Bryce Harper’s signing is soon announced, every other unsigned free agent officially moves into panic mode. They have to sign and get to camp, otherwise they risk losing the season to someone else who took their spot, simply because they said “Yes” to an offer as the available jobs ran out. That’s the way teams are with veteran free agents these days, and it’s called hardball moneyball.

Remember that Harper & Machado are both age 26, which means they are young and in their prime. They both have Hall-of-Fame arcs, so every franchise that wants to win is seeking to add them. This market fell to the Padres because so many teams have already maxed-out their payrolls. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs & Dodgers are big market heavyweights that weren’t in on either superstar this winter. Why? Because they all have high payrolls, and can’t afford either Harper or Machado.

I’m not saying 10 years, $300 million is a bargain (it’s actually crazy money), but I will say that not having any of those 4 aforementioned teams involved kept the cost down, if that seems possible. That’s the only way the Padres were able to get precisely the superstar they needed. Until this deal, it was Ty France at 3B for the Padres.

This adds 5-6 wins to the Padres in 2019, and makes the Fernando Tatis, Jr. transition to the majors a much easier process. Any time you can add a HoFer in his prime to your team, it’s a good move. Especially when you’ve planned so you can afford it. The was a brilliant campaign by Padres GM AJ Preller, who has done it again. What looked like a quiet (but dominant) winter for him, turned into his biggest coup yet. No one seriously thought the Padres would get Manny Machado– myself included. Ownership support is crucial, and anyone can see that management is leading, with ownership on the same page, which is what you want as a fan.

I am a Padres fan, so I’m now officially excited for 2019. I had heard the Machado rumors in the wind, and dreamed on it for a bit, but never took it too seriously– and neither did anyone else. Only a few weeks back, did the buzz start to become more focused on the Padres, who also met with Bryce Harper. The Padres did a great job of staying under-the-radar, and then striking when the time was right, getting exactly the player they needed.

Evidentially, Manny Machado didn’t like the White Sox or the Phillies as much, which says something, because both teams needed him. In the case of the White Sox, it’s the fact that they’re going to be bad for awhile which is the turn-off. For the Phillies, I see them as an organization that can’t make up their mind on what they really need, because you can’t sign both. The Phillies seemed to believe they could. Only the Yankees can do that, and they don’t anymore, as even they have limits.

The Phillies are now the favorites to sign Bryce Harper, as they need him the most (which means they’ll spend the most) among the remaining suitors. They signed RHP Jake Arrieta late last spring to 3/$75M, and the first year was a disappointment, as his ERA was near 4.00, and he faded down the stretch. This team has good young pitchers, but have too many holes to fill. Harper will help them, of course, but he maxes them out on payroll, while still leaving too many positions at replacement level. That’s why the Phillies signing Harper, won’t mean as much as the Padres signing Machado. When you sign a free-agent for this much money, he has to fulfill all your needs, otherwise it will be an overpay and/or bust. Those are the hard lessons of MLB free agency.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (above) announced this would be his last season the other day. He’s won 3 World Series managing the Giants. Bochy lost one (1998 to NYY) as the skipper of the Padres from 1995-2006. He never should have been fired, but the Friars had unstable ownership & constantly-changing management back then. He’s still one of the best, but his team is old. The Padres 2019 win projection before the Machado signing was 76, meaning the NL West is (again) the toughest division in the senior circuit.

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Fake Festivals & Everything Else

FYRE: The Greatest Festival That Never Happened (2019), is available for streaming on Netflix. This is one of two recently released documentaries on the epic fail of the Fyre Festival, which was scheduled to take place on a remote Bahamian island over two weekends in April/May 2017. The other is Fyre Fraud (2019), available on Hulu. The reason the Fyre Festival never actualized is because it was a scam from the start, and a metaphor for an entire “fake economy” that defines America & capitalism today.

The Fyre Festival, along with American politics is a hustle, led by sociopathic liars who throw money around, and hype themselves endlessly as the second coming, while delivering nothing. The resemblances between Fyre-brainchild Billy McFarland, and Donald Trump are remarkable. They look the similar physically– fat & stupid, with fake everything for everyone. They surround themselves with beautiful women, excess & celebrities, to boost their owns egos & images. And finally, they are both out-of-control, sociopathic liars, who never deliver on anything they promise.

McFarland’s partners in crime for the Fyre Festival were rap mogul Ja Rule & Jerry Media. They struck gold when they gathered the world’s top supermodels in the Bahamas in late 2016, for a promotional video shoot– shown above. In the Netflix documentary, someone aptly points out that there were actually two Fyre Festivals; the promo shoot with the models– which was great, and the actual event five months later– which was a disaster. The fact that the first is (and will always be) more celebrated, says a lot about this fake world we live in.

This is a Bizarro universe where supermodels & online “influencers” are all-important, as facts & reality don’t matter. What these manipulators actually produce is nothing of value. But their importance remains paramount– we’re told. That’s why Kendall Jenner was paid $250,000, for one social media post promoting the Fyre Festival (without disclosure).

Supermodels & other top social media influencers that were paid to promote this catastrophe included: Alessandra Ambrosio, Hailey Baldwin, Rose Bertram, Hannah Ferguson, Bella Hadid, Elsa Hosk, Chanel Iman, Giizele Oliveira, Emily Ratajkowski, Lais Ribeiro, Amanda Riley, Shanina Shaik & Paulina Vega. Afterwards, all of them have quietly deleted their posts relating to the Fyre Festival, most without comment.

The reality is, that it’s impossible to deliver a “luxury music festival,” on a remote tropical island with no infrastructure, running water, or electricity. When supermodels are paid to hype this garbage, and it reaches the level of media buzz it attained, then we as a society have a serious issue with controlling our sexual urges. That’s what drove Fyre, and it led to disaster. The millennials who bought into this fantasy, really need to look at their own culpability. You can only be lied to, if you want to believe the lie.

Videos with supermodels, selling people their dreams, is as old as MTV at least– yet the scam still works when updated. Why? Because people are blind to what they desire the most. People want (more than anything) to be part of the “in” crowd, and hang out with beautiful people & celebrities. This is a sickness many people have, in which they are telling themselves they can only be “somebody” if they are at a certain event with “cool” people.

This is a pathological & elitist outlook, which denies oneself its own potential to be beautiful & important. That mentality has been beaten into Generations’ X, Y & Z; as image is promoted as everything– especially on social media.

When reality finally bites, insanity & barbarism ensues, because no one is fact-checking. Both documentaries reveal how negative social media comments & whistle-blower websites were censored, as part of the Fyre promotional campaign. That’s because the truth will collapse this fake economy, exposing these “elites” as con artists. This mirrors the US government’s ongoing campaign to censor the internet, in the name of neo-McCarthyism.

America’s fake government is now personified by President Trump– the quintessential sociopathic conman. This isn’t sustainable, and it can’t be reformed, as the Democrats allowed this to be. Both Democrat (DSA, Greens, etc) & Republican (Libertarian, Tax Reform, Tea, etc) parties, along with their staunchest supporters always work together behind closed doors, to sell out the working masses. It’s fake “events” like the annual Super Bowl & Fyre Festival that keep people distracted & mollified.

As of this publication, there are still 800,000 federal workers, who aren’t being paid, and it’s been over a month. Over half of them are being required to work, most notably (so far) the TSA workers, who screen all passengers & baggage in our airports. TSA screeners are fake jobs too, meant to keep us safe from the terrorists who masterminded 9/11.

Those who fly (at all), despise the post-9/11 screening process, as it’s simply an edifice for a police state. It doesn’t make us safer, it just concentrates power into the hands of unaccountable madmen & fascists. One can’t attempt to bring a bottle of water on board, without a TSA screener tripping every alarm, as they confiscate your beverage. The “suspect” then gets a warning, and a canned statement, “You can purchase another one on-board.” Can you see how all this ties in? It’s not hard, if you look.

The reason many of the TSA screeners are working for free, is to keep their bullshit jobs. Most of these airport rent-a-police aren’t qualified to deal with a serious terrorist threat. But that’s not why they are there. The TSA was created and vastly expanded after 9/11, as cheap government labor to secure an objective for the ruling apparatus, which is to be able to lockdown any airport at any time. That’s concentrated power, and the deep state is a “who’s who” of mass murderers & fascist sociopaths, who take this as their divine right.

The mainstream answer to the government shutdown (and everything else) will ultimately be to allow Trump to declare an “executive emergency,” which doesn’t exist in reality, in order to get funding for “border security,” which both Democrats & Republicans support. This will further concentrate dictatorial authority into the hands of the US President, which Trump likes. Impeaching Donald Trump for his destructive recklessness & lack of compassion is off-the-table in this world of fake politics.

Since Donald Trump has boxed himself in with his government shutdown crisis, he goes ahead using (abusing) his Presidential power to create more chaos as a diversion. That’s the deal with this Venezuelan coup attempt Mike Pompeo & company are trying to pull off at the moment. This is the most brazen and unlawful example of election interference that anyone has ever witnessed, yet it’s framed a legitimate diplomacy in the US corporate media.

Government Shutdown Update: Friday 25 Jan 2019 03:30 PM EST

Reuters: Trump announces deal with lawmakers to end government shutdown

The deal is described as “a tentative agreement with U.S. lawmakers for three weeks in stop-gap funding that would end a partial U.S. government shutdown now in its 35th day.” News opinion polls now show public disapproval of Trump near 60%. with a majority of Americans holding him most responsible for the shutdown. Trump still reserves the right for himself to exercise “emergency powers” to get his wall, and powerful Democrats support him on that.

February 15, 2019 is now the next government shutdown date, and (most likely) we’ll be right back here again. This “deal” is a band-aid to stop the hemorrhaging. The only thing furloughed & compelled-to-work government employees care about is when do they get paid again? Back pay & lost wages are also a big issue for them. Trump’s presidency is on-the-ropes, as he & his advisors are stalling for time, until they can assume control with fascist methods.

“The workers of Matamoros will never go back to paying 4 percent union dues. You can’t have a rich union and poor workers.”

Here’s some more real news, you never hear on CNN or Fox. There are currently over 70,000 striking auto workers at the Matamoros plants in Mexico, at the US border. These strikers have defied their sellout unions, and are already affecting US production plants, but it has received zero mass media coverage in the US, for all these reasons. The reality & issues are too great for the elites to admit to, so they instead bury their heads in the sand, and hype more fake news & phony events.

Fact checking for a music festival starts with the band lineup. Fyre touted second-rate & nobody acts. Major Lazer is a DJ/producer with just two albums to his credit. Disclosure is an electronica act, also with only two records. Blink 182, the “headliner,” is a dinosaur B-list alternative rock band. Hip-hop pretenders Migos, and Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music crew, aren’t the kind of acts that one travels thousand of miles (and pays thousands of dollars) to see perform. Have you even heard of any of the rest?

The screenshot above is a damning exposure of the music industry. The biggest act, Blink 182, didn’t pull out until the last minute, as shown in their infamous tweet. Note their complicity in this fraud, by not telling their own fans that the Fyre festival was now known to be a humanitarian Super-fund site. Instead, Blink 182 apologized in couched language to mask the truth. What were they paid, I wonder? Bullshit act, like all the rest that were “booked.”

What’s most disturbing about these documentaries is the lack of awareness & remorse from everyone involved at the planning, promotional & management level. Billy McFarland & Jeffery Atkins (AKA– Ja Rule) are conman & street hustler. They deserve no legitimacy, just like the rest of this fake economy. They should be sent to prison for a long time, just like the rest of these fascist elites, who produce nothing, and only take for themselves.

The rest deserve some other form of comeuppance, which hasn’t arrived yet. That will only happen when younger people start becoming more socially & politically conscious. It has to happen, otherwise history will continue to repeat itself with this kind of ugliness. That is the deeper message in these two timely documentaries.

Australian Open (Women’s) Update: Sat 26 Jan 2019 ~ Noon EST

Does chemical enhancement count as fakery? I think so.

Serena Williams looked beastly hideous (again) during the 2019 Australian Open, where she cracked in the quarterfinals. She foot-faulted on her 1st serve at match point, and the replay shows it. She has a history of being called for that, only this time she quietly accepted it, like you’re supposed to, instead of blowing it up and using it as an excuse for losing. Naomi Osaka, the 2018 US Open winner, was shamed by Serena’s meltdown.

Serena Williams wasn’t cheated here, she cracked. That is a term tennis players use for what happened to Serena, leading 5-1 in the 3rd set, serving at 40-30. The lines-person called “foot-fault” immediately & loudly, meaning Karolina Pliskova heard it & ignored the serve, so that wasn’t an “ace,” as some have insisted. Pliskova cracked Serena by upping her game and making Williams move, until she rolled an ankle because she’s carrying too much weight. That’s one way to crack an opponent who has that vulnerability.

There is no dishonor in cracking, as compared to her malicious outburst towards a respected chair umpire during & after the 2018 US Open finals. Serena Williams never even apologized for that, or issued any kind of public explanation, outside of wanting to “put it in her rear-view mirror.”

She’s won 23 Grand Slams, and probably won’t win anymore. People need to accept that, as supporting her brand of racialist & feminist hate isn’t healthy. There’s a lot to like & dislike about her career. In this social media age, there’s nothing fans despise more than liars & their apologists

The only chance Serena Williams has at another major is 2019 Wimbledon, where her serve is dominant. Her Achilles’ Heel is her reduced mobility, which shows up against top opponents who can handle her serve. She has no chance of winning another French Open, and Naomi Osaka is now the “Queen of the Hardcourts.”

Naomi Osaka defeated Petra Kvitova (above) in a thrilling 3-set finals match, to win the 2019 Australian Open. This is what everyone wanted to see & remember. It feels a lot more REAL. No losers here, just huge kudos to both!!

Here’s some nefarious advertising for you. Naomi Osaka & Kei Nishikori are featured in this Japanimation cartoon titled ‘The Prince of Tennis,” sponsored by Nissin instant noodles. It’s received a lot of flak over “whitewashing” their caricatures, which led to the ad being taken down. People aren’t tolerating this fakery anymore, and they are better than ever at spotting it.

Osaka who is Japanese-Haitian replied, “I’ve talked to them. They’ve apologized. I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious. I don’t think they did it on purpose to be whitewashing or anything, but I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

Sat 26 Jan 2019 03:05 PM EST

Fake Money-Bitcoin Update: As reported by Bloomberg news, the production-weighted cash cost to create one Bitcoin averaged ~ $4,060 globally in the fourth quarter, according to analysts with JP Morgan Chase. Chinese miners pay ~ $2,400 per Bitcoin, by leveraging direct power purchasing agreements with dirty electricity generators.

All that leads to this question: With Bitcoin trading ~ $3,600 as of this publication, how is the cryptocurrency market sustainable in light of these realities?

I’ve heard way too many interviews with the cool, smart guys in crypto-currency who point to how Bitcoin “solved the double-spend problem.” Most of these Gen-Y & Z wanna-bees have been insulated from reality their entire lives, especially with their expensive bourgeois education in economics, which isn’t worth one read of Karl Marx’s Capital (1867).

These trendy young entrepreneurs live in cocoons, and understand nothing beyond their limited realm. The environmental cost of the Bitcoin/crypto-currency bubble impacts everyone. On the hard economics side, Bitcoin is trading at $500 below unit cost. The only way that happens (and is sustained), is through massive market fraud.

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Boxing in MLB Free Agents

The Major League Baseball free-agent market has barely moved since I last updated it here. Qualifying offer (QO) free agents are the key to understanding what’s going on. First, let’s review what I wrote over two months ago:

Update Sunday November 4, 2018: A total of seven QO’s were made on Friday, November 2 in MLB. Beyond the expected offers to Bryce Harper & Patrick Corbin, were Houston Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock, and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and catcher Yasmani Grandal. These players have 10 days to accept a $17.9 million salary for 2019, or become free agents with draft pick compensation. The five players I listed after Harper & Corbin should all accept their qualifying offers, as they won’t get better deals on the free agent market. Especially Grandal & Ryu.

What’s happened since? Ryu accepted, and kicked back knowing he has $17.9M for next season, with no off-season headaches. Hyun-Jin Ryu (below) will go into free agency in 2020 with no QO tag, as that can only be offered once to a player by their team. That’s what you want as a player– unrestricted free agency.

As I keep repeating here, it’s the draft pick compensation that is deterring the QO free-agents from getting more substantial offers. At least two-thirds of MLB teams have GM’s that value draft picks above veterans– generally speaking. That is a shift towards correct valuation of winning talent, and the MLBPA with the agents, are way behind on this. Their base constituency (veteran MLB players), are getting low-balled due to the new CBA their union “representatives” signed. Virtually every player before free agency is exploited, and now even free agents can’t get a good deal.

For example, ex-Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel (above) began the off-season claiming he was seeking a deal worth ~ 6/$85M. The problem is, he’s in decline, and he comes with draft pick compensation for everyone except Boston, which is probably where he’ll have to go back to, for less that the QO-deal he rejected in November. Time is not on his side, that’s for sure.

Former Diamondbacks center fielder AJ Pollock (above) is in even worse shape, as Arizona just inked utility man Wilmer Flores, so a reunion is becoming less likely. Pollock is worth (maybe) 2/$12M in this market– without a QO-tag on him. With the QO-tag, he’s negative value (losing a draft pick) to most teams, and therefore unsignable at even league minimum. How messed up is that?

One free-agent player decided to fire his agent, and negotiated his own deal this winter. Reliever David Robertson (above) signed a 2/$23M (plus 3rd-year option) with the Phillies. He’ll do much better than Craig Kimbrel, when all is said & done, and plus he doesn’t have to pay an incompetent agent a 5-10% fee for screwing things up.

Robertson said it was a great experience for him, and that he learned a lot about the market and how to negotiate. More players should follow his example. They’ll get paid better if they do. No one cares about your interest more than you, so if you leave it to someone else, expect to get burned.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal (above) is now an example of this. His over-estimation of his value apparently led him to reject a 4/$60M offer from the Mets a few weeks back. This is another lesson of the free-agency season: don’t overplay your hand. Afterwards the Mets moved on and signed catcher Wilson Ramos (2/$19M), and then the market for Grandal nearly evaporated.

Grandal settled for 1/$18.25 with the Brewers. The Brew Crew only give up their #104 pick, because the deal was for <$50M. The Dodgers would have preferred Grandal to have taken the Mets offer, as they would have received a better compensation pick on a $60M deal. That’s what’s going on, and the vultures are picking this market to pieces, while many players’ heads are spinning, as their salaries are falling.

Every off-season there are 2-3 teams that are spending “stupid money.” The Phillies already declared this intention, and the Yankees are always in, but neither are in the market for a catcher. The Mets have been stupid too, and this was the offer you jump on– if you’re Yasmani Grandal. His agent should be fired, for not counseling his client competently, because there were no other big suitors for Grandal, as most AL teams prefer Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, who is on the trade block.

Realmuto is better & younger, with two years of team control remaining, which could net his new team a QO compensation pick, if he’s dealt before the 2020 season. How much you get paid is not about past performance anymore. It’s what do you bring to the organization, and what they project you can do going forward.

Of the remaining QO free-agents, LHP Dallas Keuchel has the best chance of getting a deal north of $50M, but it’s not assured. The lessons of RHP’s Hu Darvish & Jake Arrieta (both busts) from last winter, remain in every GM’s mind. Everyone needs pitching, but overpaying for mediocre & injured/bad starters doesn’t make sense. That’s called wish-casting, and there aren’t many Jim Bowden’s left as GM’s who do that stupid stuff anymore.

That’s why the trade market for RHP’s Noah Syndergaard, Cory Kluber & Sonny Gray has received more interest than free-agent starting pitchers. The Mets, Indians & Yankees are all looking for young talent in return, but most teams won’t give that up anymore. Therefore not much moves.

We wait until SS/3B Manny Machado & RF Bryce Harper sign, and then the remaining position players will get scooped up at a song. Most of the MLB free-agent activity has been in the reliever market. In October, bullpens matter more than ever, and you can’t have too many arms. Position players are a-dime-a-dozen, and (often) youngsters are the best value in that market.

I don’t know how long MLB players are going to accept a system that never rewards anyone, except the most-elite superstars. This MLB CBA runs 2017-2021, and anyone with eyes can see a labor war on the horizon, as two more years of this will lead to revolt and (likely) a work stoppage. The money is too big, and the disparity is too wide. This process mirrors every other sector of our global economy. What’s not sustainable, must be revolutionized, otherwise it goes into the ashcan of human history. That will be the legacy of MLB’s “qualifying offer free agency.”

Update: Sunday 20 Jan 2019 ~3:40 PM EST

An alternate title for this piece could be, “Padres GM AJ Preller Whips MLB Free Agency.” The San Diego Padres have been the most speculated & media-buzzed team of this Hot Stove season. The reason is simple, they have the best minor-league system (by far), along with an interesting collection of young (cost-controlled) MLB talent.

Their Achilles heel is big-league starting pitching, which dooms them to the 2nd division, until their minor-league talent arrives. The Padres have been prominently linked to every big-name starter made available via trade over the winter, including: Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays), Sonny Gray (Yankees), Cory Kluber (Indians), and Noah Syndergaard (Mets).

Every rival GM wants at that talent, but AJ Preller has resisted all trade offers, and held his top prospects close to his vest. They are HIGHLY valued by the entire organization, including ownership. Therefore, they won’t be foolishly dealt for expensive rentals, bounce-back potential, decline years, or injury risks.

AJ Preller’s influence has also been a factor in holding up MLB free agency signings, as GM’s will exhaust their options to obtain young talent, before settling for a bargain in free agency. The “JT Realmuto effect” on the catching market has already been discussed above.

It’s a young man’s game, and it’s always been that way. Those who know the game recognize that much better now, due to advanced metrics & the sharing power of the internet. Many young players & MLB fans now know these issues better than the people running/ruining the game.

Here’s Evan Longoria on Instagram & ESPN.com:

evan.longoria3
We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

I respect Giants (Rays) 3B Evan Longoria, but his complaints to the media about Manny Machado & Bryce Harper not being signed yet, show that he really doesn’t understand what’s going on. Those two elite players have only one top offer apiece, and are waiting around for no good reason, as nothing better will materialize– for either of them. It is their agents who are (mis)advising them, as they are in denial. These “super-agents” (Boras & Lozano) keep trying to inflate the MLB superstar contract bubble, at the expense of younger, underpaid players who generally provide more winning value to franchises.

As of this publication, the Chicago White Sox have reportedly made Machado a seven-year, $175 million offer. Manny Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, disputes this– which is seen in the industry as bluffing. The Phillies aren’t going to go that high (in years or money), and the Yankees appear to be out. No one else is (or was) serious. Machado should sign, and let the market move again, but he & his agent are being egotistical & greedy. This is what knowledgeable baseball fans REALLY don’t like.

The Nationals reportedly offered Bryce Harper a 10-year, $300 million deal, a while back. There’s no reason to not believe it. No other franchise will go higher, especially with draft-pick compensation added to the signing cost. Bryce Harper & agent Scott Boras are also grandstanding & flexing for everyone, and it’s really disrespectful to the other position players who are waiting for a decision, so they can then find a job.

For example, 3B Mike Moustakas can help a lot of teams in need. But everyone is waiting for SS/3B Manny Machado to make a decision first. Until then no one knows what the 3B market is. The best at any specific position can hold up that entire market, because they are always coveted by teams that want to win. No one goes to their fall-back plan, until Option A pans out.

Evan Longoria asks on social media, “As fans, why should ‘value’ for your team even be a consideration?” The obvious fan answer is, “Because ‘overpays’ drive up ticket prices, and kills any team’s chances at winning.” When a MLB GM makes a bad deal of this magnitude, it has a HUGE ripple effect. It’s like trading LHP David Price, for LHP Drew Smily & prospects. The Rays never recovered, and their fans deserted them.

If MLB players want to stop their salaries from going down, then they better get smarter, and start organizing for themselves. Those who deny metrics & remain clueless as to how players are valued, will sign dumb long-term deals– like Evan Longoria did. It sucks to be taken advantage of, but when it’s your own doing, you can only be mad at yourself. I say, “Educate yourself,” or else you’re just blowing-off hot air, like so many others.

Update: Fri 25 Jan 2019 6:15 PM EST

The LA Dodgers have made some moves this off-season, and none of them are going to help them get back to a third consecutive World Series. Jettisoning contracts Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig & Alex Wood to the Reds gets them under the luxury tax threshold, and that was the only purpose of that deal from LA’s perspective. Dodgers eat $28M from RHP Homer Bailey’s contract in return, whom they released.

In 2019, the final year of the Matt Kemp contract, he’ll be paid $21.75M. The Dodgers pay $3.5M & the Padres $2.5M, from the original deal that sent Kemp to San Diego. The Braves have also taken a bite of this deal, as this is Matt Kemp’s fourth trade during this contract, which is commonly regarded as one of the biggest albatrosses in MLB history.

Dodgers also inked premium righty reliever Joe Kelly to a 3/$25M deal, and replaced Yasmani Grandal at catcher with Russel Martin at 1/$20M. Now they’ve reportedly added center-fielder AJ Pollock at either 4/$55M or 5/$60M, pending a physical. Dodgers also give up a compensation pick to the Diamondbacks by signing Pollock- who is a significant injury & crash risk. This is an overpay.

It all adds up in LA to a core roster that is year older, with less outfield power, while losing lefty starter Alex Wood. The Reds got a huge upgrade in this Dodgers salary dump. The Dodgers compounded that mistake with this AJ Pollock deal.

Finally, soon-to-be age-31 LHP Clayton Kershaw wisely declined his “opt-out,” and stayed with the Dodgers for 3/$93M. He’s pitched 149.0, 175.0 & 161.1 innings in the last three seasons. He’s still great, but he’s breaking down, like all pitchers in their 30’s.

The Dodgers are still the best in the NL West, but their window is closing, as this roster will soon resemble the SF Giants’ current situation. Hot Stove activity like this accelerates that process in LA. At least the Giants won 3 World Series in their 5-year run. The Dodgers have squandered their golden opportunity to challenge that feat, with severe over-spending & some highly-questionable deals over the past several years.

Update: Sun 10 Feb 2019 10:30 AM EST

I mentioned a few weeks back that the Padres are the key team this off-season, and since then, they’ve been in the MLB rumor mill– a lot. Their involvement in the JT Realmuto deal (finally dealt to the Phillies) was probably an effort to define the market and move things along, instead of any real interest in the All-Star catcher.

The Marlins were being unrealistic for too long, about Realmuto’s value, with only 2 years remaining on his contract. Everyone wants the Padres prospects, and AJ Preller held firm on what his top young talent is worth, which is a lot more than two years of JT Realmuto. Especially since the Padres aren’t expected to compete for the post-season in 2019 or 2020.

So what have the San Diego Padres been doing in the Bryce Harper & Manny Machado free agency sweepstakes? For a long while the Padres were the “mystery team” in this ordeal, which tells you what that’s worth. When the Padres finally came out, and declared their interest, it was (again) tepid at best, as neither player fits their competitive window, for the costs involved. Yes, the Padres can afford to sign either one, but it wouldn’t move the needle on their becoming a winning team enough to justify the contract. So what are they doing!?

Padres GM AJ Preller is trying to move this market along, by engaging these two free agents. Since no one was making an offer, Preller requested a meeting with both superstars. Harper complied, and met with them in Las Vegas, while evidently Machado refused. In both cases the true intention was to let these players and their agents know that whatever offers they’ve already received, the Padres (and everyone else) won’t go higher.

Since neither is interested in signing for a bargain, they may as well take their best offer. That’s the message. MLB.com & ESPN are calling it “due diligence” by the Padres. I believe Preller prefers signing free agent 3B Mike Moustakas, as a low-cost alternative. He’s just waiting for Machado & Harper to sign somewhere.

Over the last few days rumors have been reported as fact, that the Yankees have offered SS/3B Manny Machado a $220 million deal, and now the White Sox have raised their offer to $250 million over 8 years. No one will confirm any of this, so serious fans take it as bluffing. I still stand behind my prediction that Machado will sign with the pale hose for $175M, as that’s the top offer that has been reported, and verified by the White Sox.

Whether Harper’s $300M offer from the Nationals is still on the table is unknown, but he should have taken it when he had the chance, if he wanted max money. If Bryce Harper wants out of Washington, then he’s taking a pay cut from that.

Pitchers & catchers report this week, so it’s time for these two to make a decision. They’ll both be taking less than what they had hoped for, and will possibly be going to teams they don’t prefer, just to get paid. That’s MLB free agency in 2019, and it’s a catastrophe for the players & fans.

The fundamental issue that keeps getting swept under-the-rug is the MLBPA’s role in all this. These union bureaucrats & officials, counseled by the heavy-clout super-agents that advise them, are all complicit in the lowering of MLB-player salaries. This is the root of the impasse between free agents & the organizations these past two off-seasons.

The GM’s that run these franchises for their owners are all smarter now. Thus, they aren’t handing out any more Albert Pujols contracts, like the Angels regret. Their splurges are now more measured & contained. The presumed job of these union functionaries is to follow these trends, and understand its importance when collectively bargaining for the players.

In this task, they have completely whiffed. The MLBPA’s allegiance to veteran players, as measured by free-agent contracts, no longer fits the MLB organizational spending model. Today, GM’s understand its cheap, young players that provide winning value. That’s the core which organizations build around, and when they mature (and ONLY then), is when free-agency (or dealing prospects for valuable veterans) makes sense.

Just because a team has money to spend, doesn’t mean they should spend it. Unexpected good fortune, or rainy days, could be just around the corner, and teams need to retain flexibility with their payroll. After all, this is baseball, and no one can predict it.

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