Finishing with the Feet

When I began writing about hip & back injuries, I had a good start on my personal rehabilitation. From this came my theory on healing deep-core injuries, and a natural program for stubborn fat loss. Being an ambidextrous athlete is also part of this program, as it activates both sides of the body, developing total coordination with increased power.

What I didn’t know (when I began writing), was the endpoint. There are so many gains, followed by long plateaus in hip & back rehabilitation, that it feels like the goalposts are constantly being moved. This is a mountain you are climbing, so how do you know you are near/at the summit?

The answer, I have found is in the feet. For many people age-40 & older, their feet are a total wreck, and it’s why they have pooch guts and saggy butts. Here’s a review of the most common foot maladies in bold, with their practical applications to my methods, so we’re all speaking & understanding the same language.

Bursitis is the inflammation of the small bursae sacs which contain synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is equivalent to motor oil in an engine; keeping muscles, tendons & bones gliding past each other without friction. When bursae sacs become inflamed from repetitive overuse or trauma, friction ensues as movement becomes more painful & joint stiffness sets in. This is the cause of “sore arches” in high-heels wearers.

Calcific bursitis refers to calcium deposits within the bursae, which occur after injury. This natural mechanism creates the stiffness which immobilizes the injured area, so healing can occur. If the injury isn’t properly diagnosed & rehabilitated (or given insufficient time to heal properly), then a secondary healing occurs– where further calcifications are made around the afflicted area, so no more damage can occur.

Presuming it’s an athletic injury, the typical time-line in such a case includes resuming activity too soon, with diminishing results. There may be little/no pain, because the injured area has been splinted with calcifications, but the athlete notices reduced performance & endurance. Attempts to break past this without proper rehabilitation only lead to further pain, injury & frustration for the athlete.

So many athletes (and ex-athletes) have unreconciled stubbed-toes, torn ligaments, tweaked ankles, etc, (above). Taking the extra time & effort to fully heal even these seemingly minor injuries, pays huge dividends over time. There is simply no way to regain your previous athleticism, without all the healthy muscles you once had working in harmony.

Since gravity pulls us towards the center of the Earth, our feet are at the bottom of who we are. Our feet root us to the ground, and everything that flows through our body tends to want to settle in our feet during the day. This is why bunions and all other forms of calcifications occur in the feet. If we need to be immobilized, due to injury, the feet will first be cut off by inflammation, then calcium deposits. Once the joints are fossilized, these calcifications are difficult & painful to remove. What I describe below is my method for foot/feet rehabilitation.

Go barefoot as much as possible. This allows your foot to impact the ground, with you feeling the full force– precisely. Thick-bottomed sports shoes give the athlete a false sense of security. Yes, the pounding on your feet is reduced, but much of that is simply transferred to the knees, hips & back. Improper mechanics are being reinforced with sport-specialized orthopedic footwear. This only leads to further breakdowns in the kinetic chain.

Focus on your feet. I’m talking about entire workouts that break-up these calcifications, and start to re-establish muscle fibers in the feet. Barefoot exercise followed by this type of rehabilitation is the fastest way to full body recovery of hip & back injuries. Read that last sentence again, because it’s the essence of everything here. The feet are the end-point. Once the feet can flex & extend in all directions with power, control & sustain; then everything in the body can heal, and stubborn fat can finally disappear. This only happens when all the calcifications are broken away.

Unfixed feet are the nemesis. The reason for this is that every joint in the body is connected to the rest. The big toe connects to the hip, through the ankle & knee; then the hip connects to the hyoid bone in the neck, through the ribs, sternum & clavicle. The hyoid bone (Adam’s apple) is the only bone in the human body that is not directly connected to another bone. It “floats” in the middle of the neck, lashed there by muscles from the hip below, and the face above. When you see someone with a “double chin” or a “turkey neck,” then you know the muscles connected to their hyoid bone have atrophied. Those muscles connect all the way down to the feet.

Calcium deposits in injured joints act as an “internal cast,” limiting range & energy of movement. Again, it’s joints– plural; as everything in the body connects to something else. What this means is that a localized injury, especially in critical joints (hips & back), will eventually spread calcifications & muscle atrophy to the head, hands & toes. If you try to move beyond calcified parameters, pain immediately sets in. This is what people commonly refer to as “getting old.” It’s a misnomer, it sucks, and I recommend avoiding it.

A bunion (above) is a gradual, but painful deformity of the joint which connects the big toe to the foot. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term, autoimmune disorder that affects joints. Arthritis causes inflammation, which can become painful & debilitating. Plantar fasciitis is a similar-type disorder of the insertion site of the ligament on the bone– characterized by micro tears, breakdown of collagen, and scarring. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of calcaneal spurs (below).

A calcaneal spur (or heel spur) is a bony exostosis from the heel bone. When a foot is exposed to constant stress, calcium deposits build up on the bottom of the heel bone.

Metatarsalgia is when what I’ve described affects the ball of the foot. The metatarsals are bones that connect the toes to the ankles. All these foot disorders exacerbate a condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, which is a long-term arthritic inflammation of the joints in the spine. Back pain is a characteristic symptom, but anything from eye & ear, to bowel & urinary problems may occur. Stiffness of the affected joints generally worsens over time.

Conclusion: If I could do my rehabilitation over again (and I would never want to), I would focus more on my feet to start. I didn’t know what I was doing when I began, and had to work my way towards this answer. I kept stretching and working my abs & lower back, beyond the point of getting any results, when it was my feet that were failing me all along.

So much of what we do depends on our feet, and we tend to ignore, even abuse them. Foot pain affects every step you take, every move you make. To avoid being the “King of Pain,” you need to get active with what I’ve outline above. This pain is inside most of us, and it is making us miserable. That’s a painful truth in itself. It is up to us to face it and work it out, to make things better for ourselves & everyone else. We must use this (and any other) knowledge & heal thyself.

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Derek Jeter & Disrespect

The initial indicator that Derek Jeter was going to be a bonehead executive for the Marlins was when he first floated RF Giancarlo Stanton, without getting approval to waive his full no-trade clause. A competent MLB executive would have approached Stanton and said something like, “Look, the franchise needs a new direction, etc.” Veteran players understand that, and Stanton possibly would have acquiesced with a list of teams, which helps with leverage. Instead newly-minted executive Derek Jeter, and hold-over GM Hill, negotiated deals with the Giants & Cardinals, without Stanton’s approval.

Try to envision scenes like this, in Marlins’ team discussions back in December 2017:

Jeter/Hill: We’ve worked out a great deal with the Cardinals! They’re a superb organization, with a winning tradition, and a full crowd every night! Plus, they’ve offered us the best package in money & prospects. We think you’re gonna love your new team! Whaddya say?

Stanton: I’m not going to St. Louis.

Jeter/Hill: [blank stares]

Stanton: I’ll only go to the Yankees.

At that point, Jeter should have kept Stanton, but he had already decided to trade him– at any cost. The Giancarlo Stanton contract needed to be factored into the cost of purchasing the franchise, instead of being viewed of as a liability– to be dumped by ownership. Thus, Jeter’s former boss Brian Cashman, schooled his protoge in the fine art of dropping-the-hammer on someone who is clueless & desperate to dump salary. Jeter & Hill had to take expensive mess 2B Starlin Castro in return, and got no significant prospects for their franchise player & MVP. Perhaps this may explain why Derek Jeter can’t show up at Yankee Stadium when the Marlins are playing there?

It would have been much wiser for ownership (Jeter & majority owner Bruce Sherman) to evaluate the situation in Miami for at least a season before making any major moves. There are so many issues with this franchise that needed to be understood in their complexity. Instead Jeter came into town, full of arrogance, which betrayed impatience & ignorance. He’s clearly not cut out to run a MLB franchise, and was only given this opportunity because of his name & money.

It’s the Christian Yelich deal that deserves the most scrutiny, as he was the prize asset everyone was in on last winter, and should have gotten the Marlins a nice return. GM Mike Hill went with the Brewers’ package which centered around age-24 CF Lewis Brinson (.171/.221/.293), who looks more like a track athlete than a ballplayer. The Braves & Padres both wanted Yelich and had better prospects. It appears that GM Mike Hill cared more about running a multi-continental marathon event, than making a good deal for Christian Yelich.

All this damage occurred since new ownership took over last summer, which teaches a lesson: no matter how bad current ownership is (and Jeffery Loria was the bottom), there’s always something greedy & nefarious ready to pose as a savior and take it’s place. New ownership over-paid, and now has to cut everything to the bone to extract profits. The Marlins will be big recipients in revenue sharing money, which is nothing new in Miami.

This team had a championship lineup, no question. Unfortunately, the cataclysmic event for the Marlins was the Jose Fernandez tragedy. You can’t replace a 24-year old true ace, who is also the heart & soul of a franchise. This franchise was on a World Series trajectory, before his boating accident. All they needed was one more starting pitcher and some bullpen help. Everything changed for the Marlins on September 25, 2016, as he was irreplaceable.

On top of everything, there was a criminal owner (Loria) who pumped & dumped the franchise, leaving the taxpayers of Miami to pay the $1.3B bill on their new stadium– which no one wanted. The purchase cost of the franchise for Jeter & Sherman was $1.3B, which tells you that the only asset the Marlins really have is their taxpayer-funded stadium. The Marlins’ organization has been gutted, and is basically worthless at this point. Their players stink, and they have no fans.

Does anyone believe that Derek Jeter has the brainpower to make it valuable again? He certainly doesn’t have the money. It starts with respect, and Derek Jeter forgot about that long ago. The fans never entered into any of his crude equations.

This complex & highly-emotional situation surrounding the sale of the Marlins has become a political issue. The fans of Miami have said “Enough!” Attendance has no chance of improving, despite having a brand-new retractable-roof stadium with all the bells & whistles, paid for by the citizens of Miami.

Most didn’t ask for this, in fact many fought Loria tooth & nail, against all these back-room maneuverings; until (inevitably) enough politicians were bribed to get the new stadium deal passed. The “deal” with the fans was there would be an investment in the franchise to win. That’s why Dee Gordon and others were signed. Then after the 2017 season where the Marlins finished 77-85, it was all torn apart.

Derek Jeter’s “Project Wolverine” was of course disclosed to MLB during the transfer-of-sale process, but not revealed to the fans or people of Miami who were paying for the Marlins’ ballpark. When confronted by ESPN reporter Dan LeBatard in a phone interview, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred evaded & denied everything, claiming he didn’t know what Jeter/Sherman’s plan was for the Marlins after acquisition. LeBatard correctly called this “unbelievable,” and basically everyone who saw the interview agreed. Judge for yourself:

Conclusion: It’s not that Derek Jeter traded away his best players, it’s the crap he got in return than burns with the fans. Also, a bunch of GM’s around MLB feel jerked-around by his incompetence & miscommunication. These colleagues are seriously competitive people who value their time above all else, and when you disrespect them, you’ve become a liability to the franchise you own.

Derek Jeter put himself in a position where he had to make deals because he is short on money, which hurt his return. Mike Hill (and the rest of this inept front office) should have been fired when new ownership took over, which only proves a lack of brains all-around.

This is why the Marlins are going to draw <10,000 fans per game this season– and into perpetuity. They won’t do anything to boost the oppositions’ gate either. This is a franchise that (unless something truly dramatic happens) will lose 100+ games for (at least) the next three seasons. It will likely be 5-6 years before a winning season is possible again. They already need new ownership, which seems inconceivable, but it’s true.

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NASCAR’s “Danica Gap”

Jimmie Johnson is NASCAR’s greatest active legend– a 7-time series champion. His career sponsor Lowe’s is canceling its iconic affiliation with the #48 car after this season. What is not discussed is the unthinkable, which is Jimmie Johnson being forced into retirement, much like Danica Patrick, due to lack of sponsorship in NASCAR.

Note that Jimmie Johnson can’t even begin to court new sponsors until the season is over, because he has to fulfill his obligations to Lowe’s. All while he is running with Chevrolet, who are clearly inferior to Ford & Toyota in 2018. Jimmie Johnson mentioned this manufacturing disadvantage last fall, so it’s no surprise to those who follow.

His drop-off in performance isn’t because he suddenly stinks, as Jimmie Johnson is a serious athlete who keeps himself in top condition; biking, running, skiing, etc. He has managed to dominate his sport because he out-works and out-thinks everyone else. Plus he’s a great driver, who respects his competition.

When NASCAR is diddling around with Goldman Sachs trying to figure out if it should sell out, this creates instability in the market. This makes it HARDER for Jimmie Johnson (and everyone else) to find sponsorship. It’s pretty simple, when the bosses are completely selfish & blind, then there’s nothing you can do.

Jimmie Johnson is taking most of this with professional ease, as he’s been through the wars. He knows which battles you can’t win, and when to move on. This may be the end for Jimmie Johnson, yet no one wants to say this is the end. Brian France immediately denied they were exploring a sale of NASCAR, by sending a memo to all employees. Fans wondered if Goldman Sach’s got a memo?

Most NASCAR faithful want Brian France & family out, so the question becomes: what is NASCAR worth? A lot of what NASCAR is worth depends on who you ask. I don’t see a whole lot of assets (beyond the TV deal), so France may refuse if he feels the price is too low. On the other hand he may just want to dump this expensive mess, because eventually (2024) the TV money will dry up, with only a fraction of that will replace it. That’s the gun being held to Brian France’s head by corporate America.

Corporate may be offering 2 cents on the dollar, which of course is an insult France must refuse. The problem is: all the leverage is with corporate, and they are going to be nasty about going to even two-and-a-half cents…

Another problem for France & family is their “Danica gap.” Danica Patrick is an icon who brought tens-of-millions of kids into NASCAR, something no other driver could possibly do. What those kids saw (over & over) was her being sabotaged by her own team, and wrecked by her competition– all sanctioned by NASCAR. It was a big joke to those haters and could never control their hard-ons.

The ‘Danica gap” immediately revealed itself when she left the sport (which showed her no love), and all her fans went with her. That’s what happened after Daytona, three months ago. All her fans care about now is her final run at the Indianapolis 500, while NASCAR is begging for a respectable buyout offer. The sponsors & corporate America see Brian France as a sitting duck, waist-deep in his own excrement and rising…

NASCAR is holding their annual All Star race this fortnight in Charlotte, NC which has been their real headquarters for awhile now. Matt Kenseth, who just came out of retirement last week [!] is in the race. That’s NASCAR for you.

The qualifying race has no interest because Danica Patrick isn’t in it this year. She always should have been in the main event on fan voting, as she had more fan popularity than the entire field combined, but that ballot was always rigged. For instance, last year (2017) Chase Elliott was given the nod on the fan vote, immediately after he failed to win a stage in the qualifier. Just another example of how NASCAR shot itself in the foot.

The confluence of all these disasters & maneuverings leads to the question of questions for all you racing guys. Which would you rather have: NASCAR or Danica Patrick?

On rain-out policy & taking care of the fans:

Many long-time NASCAR fans have exclaimed the need for this sport to scale back, and regionalize itself again in the Southeast. They are correct. This would reduce travel expenses and allow NASCAR to reconnect with its roots. If NASCAR held 3-4 races per season at 6-8 regional tracks, then rain-outs could easily be accommodated.

Running a race on Monday when everyone has left to get back to reality, dismisses the investment fans make to attend a race. A washout ticket should get you free entry to the next race held at that track. THAT would get race fans excited, while protecting their investment in a ticket & advanced travel expenses. This should roll over to the next season if the final race at that site is a rain-out, or apply to any other regional track if that is more convenient for the fan.

NASCAR has to get real and start taking care of its fans, or else it’s going to be lights out. I don’t believe the sponsors & networks are willing to cooperate or be reasonable. Instead they want full control. Brian France & family are apparently too greedy & ignorant to care. This power struggle is tearing NASCAR apart, which sucks for the fans.

On NASCAR backroom politics:

What’s going on here is a behind-the-scenes power struggle. On one side is NASCAR, with all it’s good ‘ol boys on the family payroll. On the other side is (Yankee) corporate, represented by NBC, Fox, and all the sponsors, who demand accountability & profits. Who is going to manage & control this sport? Brian France & his entire NASCAR organization is being called into question by big money. This will be a fight to the death.

The issue that isn’t being brought up is organizing driver representation. If there is to be any progress, then drivers & pit crew grievances & issues must be brought to the bargaining table in an organized & unified manner– with full fan support. Fans want to support their drivers & teammates, but certain “stars” (who really ain’t shit) need to come back to Earth and join their underpaid brethren competitors, otherwise there will be no future for NASCAR.

This is the scorecard fans hold up when it is announced that the France family is exploring the sale of NASCAR. Selling depends on value, and all sides must agree. otherwise it’s an impasse. The sides that are never consulted are the fans & drivers.

The chatter from corporate on an impeding takeover is their salivation over obtaining “360 deals” with the drivers. For those not understanding this meaning, 360-deals are an entertainment industry contract term, which gives corporate all rights over every aspect of the star’s life.

Any private ventures, book deals, etc., fall under corporate ownership & control. They are called “360-deals,” because like 360 degrees in a circle, they encompass every aspect of your life. Corporate makes lots of money off that, while sucking the performer dry. This is corporate America’s vision for NASCAR’s future, complete enslavement of the drivers to maximize their profits. That’s capitalism, baby!

On BK Racing’s bankruptcy hearings:

This could be an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. Ron Devine (Boss Hogg) shedding crocodile years for his team which he has repeatedly ripped off. Subplot: Can Gray Gaulding (Coy/Vance) keep his professional racing dreams alive, while Daisy is off running the Indy 500? Tune in next week!

Misc Notes:

For people new to NASCAR, here’s a cheat sheet. The modern era of this sport began after Dale Earnhardt was killed at Daytona Super-speedway on February 18, 2001. The greatest champion of the old timers was Richard Petty, who doesn’t even own his team anymore. Of the current era (which is now coming to close); Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart & Jimmie Johnson are it’s greatest champions. Dale Earnhardt, Jr & Danica Patrick have been it’s greatest ambassadors. One was adored & endlessly glorified, while the other was hated, wrecked & dumped upon.

On PED’s in NASCAR:

Adderall is in the amphetamine class of drugs, a central nervous system stimulant. Adderall is medically prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall has been banned in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NCAA. In a podcast interview last fall, Denny Hamlin estimated ~70% of NASCAR drivers use Adderall.

On Talladega:

On Sunday, April 29, 2018 the winner was Joey Logano.  There was no “Big One” this year at spring Talladega, (photo above is 2017). This was NASCAR’s first “post-Danica” restrictor plate race. Without her on the track, there’s no reason for these rednecks to wreck each other.

NASCAR update 5-20-17:

Rob Kauffman says RTA’s new executive hired to help owners align   Bob Pockrass ESPN.com

This is the latest development in the sale of NASCAR. The team owners feel the need for legal representation, if there is indeed going to be a sell-out to corporate by Brian France & family. Rob Kauffman loves the charter system, so owner & NASCAR interests are covered.

What’s missing is legal representation for the drivers & crew. As we’ve seen in the BK Racing bankruptcy court transcripts, owners don’t always pay the help, so they better organize their own leadership which bargains collectively. Otherwise the drivers & crew members will get eaten up. That’s the economic game behind-the-scenes, and the drivers are asleep-at-the-wheel on it.

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Padres 2018 Outlook in 3 Games

Padres start 0-3, and it’s how they’ve lost that tells their story. The season opener against the Milwaukee Brewers was played in San Diego, of course. Great start by Padres LHP Clayton Richard, but Brewers rotation ace Chase Anderson was better. Padres tied the game at 1-1 in the 9th with a single by new-addition SS Freddie Galvis, but the Brewers won in 12 innings. No run supports by the Friars, mostly due to poor AB’s with RISP, and good bullpen work by the Brewers.

The Padres bats show up in game two, but closer Brad Hand blows it, by giving up 5 runs in the 9th. The dagger was a two-out, 3-run shot by 1B Ryan Braun. Padres snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ve been speculating the Padres could use Ryan Braun for a long time, and I’ll keep at it.

The pressure was on for RHP Luis Perdomo to deliver in the series finale on Saturday, at the team let him know it. He had pitched poorly in spring training, and barely made the rotation. He laid another egg by getting bombed in his 4 innings of struggle, giving up 5 runs.

When I watch Luis Perdomo, I am reminded of when I was a Devil Rays fan watching a young Edwin Jackson. Edwin Jackson actually pitched with Perdomo in 2016. Then Edwin Jackson moved on, as he always does. Padres fans would love to see Luis Perdomo move on for the same reasons. He has tantalizing potential, but just isn’t interested in maximizing his abilities.

Those are the early returns on the 2018 SD Padres, and this is what they are, and once again it hurts for their fans. This will be yet another rebuilding (sub .500) season. The off-season moves made by GM AJ Preller were correct, but there are still too many holes to fill in the rotation, and in the OF. The additions of SS Freddie Galvis and 1B Eric Hosmer are huge pluses, and they will keep the Padres from being really bad in 2018.

Manager Andy Green is one of the best, and they have plenty of young talent with their farm system depth, so this will be a call-up year, which in fact has already begun. Expect 3B Chase Headley & RF Hunter Renfroe to be traded, along with Perdomo and a bunch of other AJP fungibles including: 2B/3B Cory Spangenberg, OF Travis Jankowski, OF Matt Szczur, etc…

Young LHP Joey Lucchesi has already been called up, taking injured RHP Dinelson Lamet’s spot in the rotation. Lucchesi pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 3 runs in game two against the Brewers. LHP Robbie Erlin, back from Tommy John surgery: 3.2 IP, 2 R. This is what these guys are, which isn’t much.

The best Padres pitching is at AA (San Antonio) & AAA (El Paso), or still recovering from TJ surgery (Anderson Espinoza & Chris Paddock). The object for manager Andy Green will be to get through yet another season without enough starting pitching. This is his 3rd season, and he’s used to this by now. Nothing will be as bad as 2016, when GM AJ Preller traded his entire rotation & closer by the deadline (James Shields, Drew Pomeranz, Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea & Fernando Rodney).

Andy Green has Daren Balsley, one of the best pitching coaches helping him, but their biggest issue is with injury prevention. Too many of their arms are getting hurt. That’s the biggest danger to their prospects, many of whom have high ceilings. Also of interest, RF Will Myers who put on 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season, has been having lingering back tightness for two weeks. [1]

Injury prevention can only be called medicine when it follows a rational & scientific method. In MLB, as in all other professional sports, injury prevention is poorly understood. There is too much old-school (lack of) ethics in its brain trust, and therefore it falls into all the old traps.

Pitchers don’t need to get hurt, but they almost always do. There’s no reason for this continuing to happen, outside of arrogance & contempt for the truth. People who are in charge simply can’t admit they are wrong. Once exposed, they will lose power, and that can’t be allowed to happen because sports is a business. It’s always been this way.

Fans can root for this stuff, but that doesn’t mean being naive. For me, it gets more painful to watch this carnage every year. I’ve become more of an analyst than a fan anymore. Already, every DL in MLB is piling up with arm injuries, because coaches & training staff don’t want to understand biomechanics & medical science.

They gotta keep pushing for that extra edge, using all the self-regimented, old-school ways (PED’s) that are proven to get you injured & shamed. It’s ignorance & arrogance that’s killing our pastime.

It’s the home run era again, in case you haven’t noticed. With Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes, we’re gonna get blitzed with long ball hype this year. We’re talkin’ military parades down Pennsylvania Avenue, and maybe even another war…

I have reported here on the Padres since late- 2015, as they have been a fascinating case study in sports franchise management. This organization has been turned around by a brilliant young GM, who in the process has been sanctioned by MLB old guard (Red Sox, White Sox, ESPN, MLB commissioners office) for taking advantage of the rules and making dupes of their GM’s in trades & International free-agent spending.

That talent AJ Preller acquired in 2016 is about to hit the beach in San Diego. When Preller trades a veteran or young player this season, he will be replacing them from within, while looking for prospects in return. As for 2018, look for more rotation struggles, as their depth is thinning fast, due to lack of effectiveness and/or injury. Look for SS/3B Fernando Tatis & 2B Luis Urias sooner, rather than later. The same with their stud pitching prospects. Wil Myers may be hopeless, and if he is deemed so by the Padres, they will look to move him.

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World Cup 2018, Politics & US Soccer

The fact is that MLS really stands for Minor League Soccer in the eyes of the world. The MLS level of play isn’t close to world class, yet they seem to believe that they belong in that discussion. Yet, on the pitch nothing has been proven. The US has failed to qualify for the World Cup (WC) for the first time since 1986, so clearly it is moving backwards in it’s “progression.”

On October 10, 2017, all the USMNT had to do was draw against Trinidad & Tobago’s “C” Team in their final WC qualifying match. Instead, they lost 2-1 on an own goal, and failed to qualify for Russia 2018, as Panama will go instead. That was a watershed moment for US soccer. [1]

Now the US media propaganda against WC 2018 in Russia begins, which smacks of sour grapes. For all the money the US puts into youth & MLS soccer ($1B+/year), the results are an embarrassment, and no amount politicking can cover that up. As Claudio Reyna said after that elimination loss, “We’re far too arrogant.” [2]

Let’s evaluate what has happened to the US Men’s National Team since 1986, which was the last time it failed to qualify. The 1986 World Cup was held in Mexico, and was won by Argentina on Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal.

In 1990, the WC was held in Italy, and the US qualified as one of two CONCACAF teams, with Costa Rica the other. Teams qualify by geographical region. The CONCACAF region is North America, Central America and Caribbean; giving the United States a huge competitive advantage in qualifying, as most of these nations are third-world countries which have been devastated by US imperialism.

In Italy 1990, the USMNT went 0-3 in group play, and finished 23rd out of the 24 teams in the tournament. The USMNT goal differential (GD) was -6, and only the United Arab Emirates finished worse (-9 GD).

In 1994, the US hosted the World Cup for the first time. That was a big deal. The host country automatically qualifies, and this was to be the launching pad for a future professional league (and springboard for youth soccer in North America), as the MLS was actually founded on December 17, 1993, and began play in 1996.

The USMNT did well in their 1994 tournament, surprisingly making it out of their group and into the Round of 16. This was the best result the USMNT could have hoped for, as they were eliminated by eventual champion Brazil in the first game of the knockout round, 1-0.

But their success was a chimera, as their advance out of group play was aided by a surprise 3-1 victory over then-world soccer power Colombia. The Colombian national team had some of the best football players in the world, but their country was also being ravaged by George H.W. Bush’s “Plan Colombia,” (now directed by Bill Clinton), a US military and covert war against the country in the name of the “War on Drugs.”

Colombian National Team players were threatened by drug lords and other criminal types. Perhaps the ugliest incident in the history of the World Cup came as a result of this Colombian loss, when defender Andrés Escobar scored an own goal, putting the game out of reach. Nicknamed “The Gentleman,” he was well-known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch.

On the evening of July 1, 1994, five days after the elimination of Colombia from the World Cup, Andrés Escobar went to a bar in the El Poblado neighborhood in Medellín. At 3:00 AM, when Escobar was alone in a parking lot in his car, three men approached and began arguing with him. Two of the men took out handguns and Escobar was shot six times. It was reported that the killer shouted “¡Goal!” after every shot. Escobar was rushed to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later. Those are the sordid facts surrounding the USMNT founding success at the World Cup in 1994.

World Cup 1998 was held in France. Zinedine Zidane & the French national team owned the tournament, embarrassing Brazil 3-0 in the final. The US was in Group F that tournament, with powerhouses Germany and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia– who survived and advanced. The United States exited the World Cup suffering a devastating defeat against Iran. The USMNT in WC 1998 went 0-3, with a GD of -4, as they finished last among the 24 teams that qualified.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea & Japan, the first to be held in Asia. This was the last World Cup to use the golden goal rule. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, winning the final against Germany 2–0.

Group D was South Korea, Poland, United States and Portugal. The US shocked world-power Portugal in it’s opener, and made in into the knockout round, with co-host South Korea. The USMNT then defeated Mexico (2-0) in the Round of 16, before losing to eventual runners-up Germany 1-0, in the Round of 8. This would be the USMNT high-water mark in international competition.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup was held in Germany. The US was in Group E: with Italy, Ghana, the Czech Republic. The US finished 0-2-1 in group play, with a draw against Italy, and didn’t make it into the knockout round. Only Costa Rica, Serbia & Montenegro, Japan, Togo, and Saudi Arabia finished with less points and a worse goal differential.

The 2006 tournament marked a qualitative degeneration of the sport, as players received a record-breaking 345 yellow cards and 28 red cards. The low point came in the the Italy-France finale, when all-world midfielder Zinedine Zidane head-butted an opponent, after being repeated baited, and was subsequently ejected from the match. Italy won in penalty kicks.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in South Africa. In a bidding process that was open only to African nations, FIFA selected South Africa over Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the World Cup. The 2015 FIFA corruption case reported that high-ranking officials from the South African bid committee had secured the right to host the World Cup by paying US $10 million in bribes to then-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and to other FIFA Executive Committee members.

In June 2015, FIFA executive Chuck Blazer, having co-operated with the FBI and the Swiss authorities, confirmed that he and the other members of FIFA’s executive committee were bribed. Blazer stated, “I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.” In June 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had actually won the vote, but South Africa was awarded the tournament instead.

On the field in WC 2010, Group C was: England, United States, Algeria, and Slovenia. The United States and England finished tied at the top of the group with five points each, in this lackluster pool. Their goal differences were also level at +1, but the United States won the group having scored more goals than England in their three games. As group winners, the United States advanced to face Group D runners-up, Ghana, and were immediately bounced out 2-1, in the round of 16. Spain would win the tournament for their 1st World Cup title.

2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil, with Germany winning its 4th title. It was a huge disappointment for Brazil, who was expected to win on their home field. Group G was the “Group of Death” this time around, as it included Germany & Portugal, with the US and Ghana rounding it out.

The USMNT surprisingly beat Ghana in their opener, then played to a draw against Portugal, and advanced to the round of 16 based on Goal Differential, with Portugal being eliminated. Brilliant goalkeeping by Tim Howard kept things close against Belgium in the knockout stage, but the US lost in extra time 2-1.

Results: Without going into details concerning specific players, coaches and events that have transpired over the past 25 years or so in US soccer, a few general statements can be made with surety. Soccer in the US really hasn’t progressed much, since it hosted the World Cup in 1994. The coaching at all levels is still poor quality, and is marred by egos & monied interests.

Young talent isn’t recognized & nurtured, while billions of dollars are spent promoting garbage. There are no impact playmakers on the US Men’s National Team, and there never has been. The only position the US consistently excels at is goalie (Kasey Keller & Tim Howard).

The US players simply aren’t that skilled. They may get paid to play MLS, but many perform (& behave) like bush-leaguers. This isn’t because of lack of talent, it’s due to lack of organization. The Men’s National team is a coaching carousel, which continues to recycle the same losers.

This filters all the way down to the youth levels, which has become Pay to Play. Basically, disadvantaged kids with talent are being priced out of competitive youth soccer. “Without a doubt, soccer has become a rich kid’s sport,” said longtime coach Shane Kennedy of Mill Valley, CA.  [3] 

When you can’t win, you are left with talking trash. That’s what all this money has added up to, in youth & professional soccer in the United States. America will be outside looking in this summer, as Russia hosts World Cup 2018, while the US Men’s National team continues to play Minor League Soccer.

For players there are half a dozen or so who should stay, with everyone else finished for the US National Team. The entire coaching staff and player development hierarchy needs to be cleaned out, and re-conceived before being re-staffed. The current model doesn’t work, and American soccer need fresh ideas & leadership with a global perspective. This goes all the way down to the youth level.

The problem is that most of the US professional players are spoiled whiners, who never step up to accept accountability for themselves or others. Basically no leadership. It’s just a hot mess. That’s why there’s no team identity, no recognizable US-style.  All this is why the results in US soccer have never significantly improved.

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2018 MLB Pre-season Predictions

This analysis only covers the regular season. The MLB post-season can’t be predicted until the season (and trade deadlines) play out, as injuries and other factors are impossible to know. My methodology incorporates these factors: 1) last season’s W-L record, 2) off-season moves, 3) team payroll & flexibility, 4) farm system, and 5) front office & ownership brains.

As of this publication, the only significant remaining free agent is RHP Alex Cobb (above). I anticipate him signing for 1/$12M (or 2/$20M) as a mid-rotation starter for a small or mid-market team. He’s an injury risk, with his TJ history. He also comes with draft pick compensation, which diminishes his market value. Nothing else remains in free agency but scrap heap players, therefore we can now handicap each division and expect to be in the ballpark.

AL East
Contenders: Yankees, Red Sox (WC)
Pretenders: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

The Yankees are everyone’s favorite after acquiring DH Giancarlo Stanton this past winter. Have no illusions, this helps the Yankees win now, but it will be an albatross contract after a few seasons, and it runs through 2027. They have plenty of starting & relief pitching, with a balanced line-up that is young with upside, as well as experienced. Their farm system is still strong (top 5-ish), and they’ve cleared payroll room for additions in July.

The Red Sox will be right there too, but I see them as slipping. They now have (by far) the highest payroll in MLB. Trades have eroded their farm system, and there are already more than a few regrets, with more to come. Red Sox fans would surely prefer CF Manny Margot (Padres) to Jackie Bradley Jr. for instance. JD Martinez (age 31) seems like a redundancy at DH, as 1B Eric Hosmer (age 27) made more sense for the Red Sox this past winter. Instead they’re going with Mitch Moreland/Hanley Ramirez at 1B, which hurts.

The Blue Jays could possible make some noise if their top prospects (3B Vlad Guerrero Jr & SS Bo Bichette) make an impact. They are already having injury issues with their rotation (RHP Marcus Stroman), and this has been a problem for them in the past. More than any other AL team, the Blue Jays could go either way.

The Rays are experimenting with a 4-man rotation, with the 5th day being a “bullpen start.” This is completely insane, and promises to fail miserably. The Rays have already lost two young arms to TJ surgery this spring: RHP’s Brent Honeywell & Jose de Leon. Expect RHP Chris Archer to be traded by the deadline.

The Orioles are a complete joke. No international drafting presence and poor scouting has doomed this franchise to the basement for any foreseeable future. Their starting rotation for 2018 is awful, as their pitching staff will be the worst in MLB by a wide margin. This franchise desperately needs a new owner.

Late entry 3-21-18: Just announced, the Orioles & RHP Alex Cobb have reached an agreement on a 4/$60M deal. Because the Orioles receive revenue sharing, they will lose their third-highest pick in the Amateur Draft as a result of this deal — the No. 51 pick overall. No team need starting pitching more than the O’s, so this is a good deal for them. Unfortunately it’s way too little, too late to be much help.

AL Central
Contenders: Indians, Twins (WC)
Pretenders: Royals, White Sox, Tigers

The Indians are still a heavyweight WS contender, with enough system depth to aid in another championship run. Their pitching is elite. Losing Carlos Santana could hurt some.

The Twins made some of the best off-season improvements this winter. They added two helpful starters in Jake Odorizzi & Lance Lynn who can provide 300+ above-average innings to their rotation, which is huge. Throw in bargain-signing Logan Morrison at DH, and the Twins have a mashing heart-of-the-order. They’re still a notch (or two) below the AL heavyweights, but dangerous nonetheless.

The Royals have gone into rebuild mode after losing ace RHP Yordano Ventura to tragedy, and 1B Eric Hosmer & CF Lorenzo Cain to free agency. They re-signed 3B Mike Moustakas because no one else wanted him. Moustakas is an example of how much of a disaster this new CBA is for the players, as a Scott Boras client who initially refused the Royals qualifying offer of $17.4M, then eventually inked for $6.5M plus incentives. This organization is now in no-man’s-land after winning it all in 2015.

The White Sox committed to their rebuild by trading their best players last year and reaping a bevy of top prospects. This is now one of the best farm systems in baseball (with the Braves & Padres), but a mess at the MLB level. RHP James Shields personifies this 25-man roster disaster better than any other White Sox player.

The Tigers finally threw in the towel last July, and it will be a long time before they are relevant again, as their farm system still stinks. Their 25-man roster has a two albatrosses in 1B Miguel Cabrera & RHP Jordan Zimmerman.

AL West
Contender: Astros
Pretenders: Angels, Mariners, A’s, Rangers

This division is really bad outside of the defending World Series champion Astros. For the Astros, it’s all about being able to win in October. This is a smart organization, that is set up for a nice run.

The Angels made some nice additions this off-season, but are still a long way from having a competitive 25-man roster. They’ve got a smart young GM in Billy Eppler, who makes things happen. He needs to find some more pitching for the Angels to take the next step.

The Mariners aren’t going anywhere, despite the flurry of deals GM Jerry Dipoto has made in the last two years. There’s no financial flexibility due to payroll obligations. Spring training has been a rash of leg injuries, including: DH Nelson Cruz, SS Jean Segura & OF Ichiro. This roster is thin on depth to start, and can’t afford significant injuries to any key players.

The Rangers are also spinning their wheels, and will probably be trading ace LHP Cole Hamels at the 7/31 deadline. A point that needs to be made concerning the Rangers’ front office, is that the juggernaut of homegrown talent they had ~ 10 years ago was the work not of GM Jon Daniels, but of then-scouting director A.J. Preller. When Preller left to become GM of the Padres, the young talent stopped coming to Arlington.

The A’s are once again the young Moneyball up-&-comers (as they should be), but it will take another year or two for their system to bear fruit. They could surprise sooner if their prospects hit. If they ever committed to a respectable payroll, they could actually do something.

NL East
Contender: Nationals
Pretenders: Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins

Not much of a race here, as the Nationals are a NL heavyweight. Expect them to win this division by double digit games again in 2018. It’s all about their performance in October anymore, and winning a division series for a change. This is their last run with RF Bryce Harper, and they are doing it with a rookie manager. Believe it or not, that’s a dugout upgrade in Washington.

As for the rest, the Braves have the best farm system, followed by the Phillies. Both of these franchises mark 2018 as critical development years. The Phillies have gambled by signing 1B Carlos Santana (3/$60M) & RHP Jake Arrieta (3/$75M*) in a push to accelerate their window of contention. I see it as too much, too soon, and don’t see this turning out well. The Phillies needed to be patient for at least one more year before making such splashes. If this backfires, they’ve screwed themselves; and they did it for a long-shot.

The Braves have had a top-rated farm system for ~3 years now, with meager results at the MLB level. They need young outfielder Ronald Acuna, SS Dansby Swanson, and their pitching prospects to deliver soon, otherwise it was too much hype. I’m talking mostly to Keith Law and the rest at Fangraphs.

The Mets are already having injury issues (again), with RHP Jacob deGrom the latest pitching casualty. 3B David Wright will probably be permanently inactivated sometime this season, due to his ailing back. RF Yoenis Cespedes and LF Michael Comforto are also having early tweaks, and at some point someone in the Mets organization needs to be held accountable for all this, otherwise they’ve wasted their chances in this window and learned nothing from it.

The Marlins put Derek Jeter’s “Project Wolverine” into action this winter, and dumped four (4) All-Stars– for not-nearly-enough in return. They are going to stink for a LONG time, and no one will care.

NL Central
Contender: Cubs, Cardinals (WC)
Pretenders: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

The Cubs still have plenty enough to cruise to another division title. The issue comes in October, in how they will match-up against the Dodgers & Nationals. RHP Hu Darvish feels like a last plunge in this window. RF Jason Heyward’s contract is an albatross that limits their flexibility.

The Cardinals are my iffiest NL post-season prediction, as they may be too old. I never count this organization out, as they always have depth and a plan. If they crash, look for the Brewers, Braves, or Padres to sneak into the 2nd Wild Card. CF Marcell Ozuna was an off-season steal.

The Brewers have gotten a lot of press this winter for the moves they’ve made. They acquired LF Christian Yelich (below) & CF Lorenzo Cain (5/$80M), but the problem is they now have no position for LF Ryan Braun– who is untradeable. He’s not a 1B, and besides they already have Eric Thames there.  There’s not enough pitching in their rotation behind Chase Anderson either. Their payroll is maxed, with their farm system depleted, and they still come up way short.

The Reds have built their farm system back into respectability, or so we are told. I’m not convinced, as this organization never seems to produce enough pitching. Or when it does, it gets hurt.  Projected starters Anthony DeSclafani’s oblique injury, and Brandon Finnegan’s biceps strain in spring training already point towards that same trend again in 2018.

The Pirates went into rebuild mode again this off-season, when they traded CF Andrew McCutchen & RHP Gerrit Cole. Their farm system isn’t much these days, and their 25-man roster is below average. Cheapskate ownership really hurts here.

NL West
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks (WC)
Pretenders: Padres, Rockies, Giants

This is the best division in the NL, and only the AL East can claim to be tougher. Top-to bottom the NL West is probably better, as the Rays & O’s are basically hopeless in 2018. The Dodgers still have the best roster, with the best pitching, and a top-10 farm system. Money is never an object in LA, so expect them to be there in October again.

The D-backs will probably regress some in 2018 without J.D. Martinez, but they still have a play-off rotation. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is their franchise player, but 3B Jake Lamb & particularly RF Steven Souza Jr. are the keys to their 2018 line-up.

The Padres have the best farm system in baseball by a wide margin. It’s become clear in spring training to many scouts & prospect experts, that the Padres system is actually underrated. This team is about to be good for a long time. Additions of 1B Eric Hosmer, SS Freddie Galvis, 3B Chase Headley, and RHP’s Bryan Mitchell & Tyson Ross add at least 10 wins to a team that went 71-91 in 2017. The waves of talent to come, make the Padres the organization to watch in 2018. Andy Green may be the best manager in MLB, and Darren Balsley is probably the best pitching coach.

The Rockies graduated most of their top talent in the last few years, and it netted them a WC (and immediate bounce out) in 2017. I see that as the Rockies ceiling with this current group. Their starting pitching is solid (mediocre), with little upside. Their line-up is still potent, but aging, with some bad contracts. Most likely their defense won’t be very good. Expect regression in Colorado.

The Giants have doubled down on their expensive veteran roster by adding RF Andrew McCutchen & 3B Evan Longoria to get some power into their line-up. It’s still not enough, and besides it’s pitching that’s now become suspect in San Francisco. RHP’s Johnny Cueto & Jeff Samardzija, along with closer Mark Melancon, are all albatrosses. Win or lose in 2018, Giants GM Brian Sabean will be blowing this aging team up in the near future.

My final thoughts on this past winter and the upcoming season are that these predictions aren’t hard to make. It’s going to be the same teams competing in October again. That’s why so many organizations declined to participate in free agency this winter. Splashes don’t make sense when you have no shot to start, and that’s about half the teams overall.

The name of the game today is acquiring young talent. Young players throw harder, run faster, cover more ground, and (most importantly) cost less than veteran players. Signing qualifying-offered free-agents costs an organization valuable draft picks & international spending money, which are the two quickest pipelines to a competitive roster.

This is why I’m so down on the Phillies in 2018. Santana & Arrieta probably aren’t enough, and they lose future talent by surrendering compensation picks, when they still should be in young talent acquisition mode.

Analytics and a scouting eye can tell us a lot, and help fans make better projections, but in the end it’s a random game and no one really know what will happen.

Play Ball!!

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Ambidextrous Tennis

Two forehands beats one. That’s the philosophy behind ambidextrous tennis. This means eliminating the backhand, and hitting with a right-handed AND left-handed forehand– depending on the situation. Nothing in the game of tennis has as much revolutionary potential as this style.

Firstly, why take up ambidextrous tennis? For me it was a right elbow injury that caused me to put down the racket. Like most athletes, I couldn’t sit still, so I decided to try the racket in my left hand. I quickly discovered that I had more power on my left side than my right! That really got me thinking… and now here we are.

In this video below I demonstrate the basics (& a few nuances) of ambidextrous tennis. The advantages to hitting this way are multi-fold. Ambidextrous tennis provides: 1) More power & higher spin rates; 2) Better court coverage with less effort; 3) Better attack angles while closing off windows-of-vulnerability. 4) Numerous openings to close in on the net, and finish.

I predict (in the future) that ambidextrous tennis will outlast everything else, and become the dominant style among top professionals. The advantages of this style are too apparent, and eventually some ambitious young boy (or girl) is going to master these concepts and win a lot of tennis majors. Why? Because two forehands beats one.

Does this mean that I can now beat Roger Federer? Of course, not. I’m too old, and don’t have his ability. What the ambidextrous style will do is raise the level of anyone’s game, just by becoming more aware of the other half of one’s body. As a footnote: I wouldn’t even want to imagine Roger Federer with two forehands [!], he’s good enough already.

The point is, few of us have anywhere close to Roger Federer’s ability. Imitating his style can help to an extent, but you aren’t going to get better than him by copying him. He’s the best. If young tennis players want to consistently break through Federer-Nadal and the rest on the men’s side (and Serena Williams on the women’s side), then they are going to have to be extraordinarily talented– and still think outside-the-box. The top players are the best for a reason, because they have the talent & dedication, and it takes a lot to get past them.

Ambidextrous tennis (when mastered) gives anyone the tools they need to attack & defend against the best players. Most tennis player’s are taught to attack an opponent’s backhand. In ambidextrous tennis there is no backhand, thus most opponent’s strategy is foiled before they even step onto the court. This is a frustrating style to match up against, and many people I’ve hit with, have disappeared over the years. People generally like to hit against people they can beat, so many of your ‘tennis friends’ will bail on you, once you get good at this style.

Final tips: It’s what your body is doing during pronation that counts in tennis. If you don’t pronate, while maintaining vision & balance– then you’ve got nothing. Consider the racket as a sword, and the tennis ball as a bullet. You are always protecting your head & body while being ready to move in any direction, for any required shot. Ambidextrous tennis allows quick & efficient movements, combined with controlled power.

Light feet skate. Keep everything in-line– from eyes to toes. Stay low and get lower as you approach the net. Stay down until the point is over. Ambidextrous tennis conserves energy, which makes all this easier. The best reason for playing (and mastering) ambidextrous tennis, is that you will have no weaknesses.

Wednesday  2-28-18—  P.S on endorsements:  I’m going on the record in saying, I would love to have a shoe deal. I would obviously need a manufacturer as a partner. Today, most athletic footwear sold in stores, is junk. It only enriches the corporate manufacturers, and the handful of celebrity athletes endorsing their signature series. Poor materials, bad design, and shoddy construction are major issues with athletic shoes– especially considering their price tag.

Since most shoes are sports specific, and already have top-athlete spokesmen/women, I would propose to design a shoe that works for serious amateur athletes. That’s a big demographic, hungry for innovation. Tennis is a good model, because you can wear any kind of footwear you choose, as opposed to other sports, which have restrictions on style & design of the shoes.

If I wasn’t blacklisted, I would surely have been contacted by now, after posting “Ambidextrous Tennis.” This only proves (once again) that there is now no room for outside-the-box re-thinking, anywhere in the capitalist market. Censorship bites everybody.

July 1, 2018 Final Notes on Ambidextrous Tennis:

I’ve made a few changes to my featured routine since I’ve posted this piece. I now practice barefoot, because you finish with your feet. I also don’t serve off the wall and chase for the return anymore. I now hit into the corner and let the ball bounce back in my direction.

Remember this is a racquetball court being used for tennis training. The bounce will typically hit off two walls, reducing the pace and allowing you time to move your feet. You don’t know which wall it will hit off of, because you are aiming at the corner. When you hit dead into the corner, it bounces back with crazy spin or knuckleball effect. This really improves footwork & focus on the ball.  Do this right-handed & left-handed, as shown in the video, and you will get better at tennis.

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What is 1B Eric Hosmer Worth?

This article began as a commentary on the slow free-agent market in MLB, and soon metastasized into a serial edition. It’s still in-progress, as it has become a serious labor & political issue for players & fans. The latest updates are at the end.

In 2017, Hosmer had a career year, good for 4.0 WAR. I postulate that one win should cost $5-6M in today’s MLB free agency, and that you can never assume more than 4.0 WAR for any player. That means $20-24M/year is the free agency annual maximum, and this $1M/year ‘wiggle room’ is dependent on market size, competitive window, television deals, and other franchise considerations.

Keeping the free agent cost/win locked in at $5-6M makes sense, because it’s the fans who pay for the game, and too many can’t afford the current rate of star player salary escalation. MLB has reached it’s ceiling with many, many fans.

I believe even RF Bryce Harper & LHP Clayton Kershaw are in for rude surprises next winter, as any more $300M deals (Giancarlo Stanton) have been ruled out, and probably even $200M will be criticized as an overpay.

It’s the length over 4 years that kills organizations, and their fans recognize this & don’t like it. That’s why you have so much antipathy towards Scott Boras & the rest of these “super agents.” Fans can now do their own research, and often form better arguments than these high-powered lawyers. This tells you what Boras & Co. are really worth, and also that their influence (at this point) is entirely dependent on connections, instead of brains.

With all this said, Eric Hosmer is worth 3/$48M to the SD Padres, with an option year and $1M buyout, as he’s probably worth ~3 WAR/season over that deal. This also would keep the Friars under the $50M cap for forfeiting their second round draft pick, next June. These draft picks are EXTREMELY valuable to franchises today, and GM AJ Preller would prefer to draft another young arm, versus giving that selection to Kansas City in compensation for signing Hosmer.

If the Padres have to go over $50M & 4 years for Hosmer (most likely), then the average annual value (AAV) of the deal is lessened to say 5/$65M. Why? To make up for the cost of losing that draft pick. Otherwise, it’s an overpay.

Ideally the Padres would move Wil Myers to LF for 3-4 years, after which he will (most likely) need to move back to 1B. Anything <$100M for Eric Hosmer doesn’t cripple this franchise in 2019, or beyond. It would add a great defender with good OBP to a line-up that desperately needs it. In other words, from age 28-30 he’s a winning piece, but not the entire answer. From age 32 on, he’s a liability at anything over $10M/season.

There are new rules now in MLB free agency, since the current deal was ratified over a year ago. Signing qualified free agents can now force teams to forfeit international bonus allotments. The hard cap on international spending is new to the 2017-21 CBA. Also, exceeding the luxury tax by a wide enough margin will eventually cause teams to see their top pick pushed back 10 slots. The new CBA also added surcharges of 12% & 42.5% for exceeding the CBT by $20M & $40M, making $197M a hard team payroll cap for all intents & purposes [1].

With all this, the MLB owners have effectively found a way to de-incentivize signing top-dollar free agents. It can’t be properly labeled collusion, because the MLBPA agreed to these rules. This only proves that MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and the rest of his cohorts are incompetent puppets in the hands of ownership and its MLB commissioner’s office.

The vast majority of MLB players (at any time) are arbitration or pre-arb, and are unaffected (for now) by this slow FA signing season. Therefore their unity & readinesses to strike is virtually nil. Until something is proposed to increase pay for the majority of the players at the bottom of the MLB pay scale, then the players will remain divided & helpless. The problem for most professional baseball players are their sellout ‘representatives’ occupying the union leadership, working in collusion with ruthless ownership negotiators.

Update 2-7-18  Wednesday ~2:00 PM:

The MLBPA did nothing in the last round of CBA to help the players. Recall this was a historic negotiating session, as new rules for the international draft & free agency (as always) were on the table. Ownership set the framework for all the negotiations, as everything pertained to caps on spending.

For instance, in 2016 AJ Preller & the SD Padres broke the bank in international free agency, spending ~$75M and reaping an unprecedented talent haul. Now that can’t be done, as the cap is <$15M. The owners rigged MLB free agency the same way, essentially capping spending with it’s agreed-upon collectively bargained rules.

The union leaders & all the players’ agents did NOTHING to significantly raise the salaries of young players, who are the most-exploited & vast majority. That’s why free agents demand overpay contracts, as they’ve been underpaid for so long. I’m okay with the players striking, as long as it leads to more equal pay among ALL players. It’s a team game, and that means actual unity to win. This requires real leadership, which is something you can’t fake [2].

Update 2-8-18   Thursday ~Noon

Yesterday JD Martinez was reportedly (per Ken Rosenthal) “frustrated with the pace of negotiations,” but today Scott Boras is “serene and patient” in an ESPN interview. Do you believe any of this?

The free agent players are under pressure, as they have to play to get paid. The teams already have players, so they can hold out for the right price. That’s what’s going on. There is no mass player sentiment for a strike, as that trial balloon was shot down with violent reaction from the fans on social media when an agent brought it up a few days ago. How can there be player unity when each player retains their own agent? A handful of super agents control all the MLB players, with in the framework of a sellout bureaucratically-run union– the MLBPA.

When either Hosmer or Martinez first capitulate (as they must), that will signal the collapse of the free agent bubble, and you will then see a flurry of bargain free agent signings. Look for numbers in this range: JDM 4/60, Hosmer 3/50, with only 2-3 year deals for any pitcher. Pitchers & catchers report next week, so it’s about to get busy. This has actually been an amazing off-season to follow, due to it’s uniqueness.

Scott Boras sounds delusional in his analogies, don’t you think [3]?

It was Ken Rosenthal who yesterday reported ‘allegations’ of JD Martinez’s “frustrations” in these negotiations, which is really a non-story. Everyone gets emotional when money is on the table, so that’s only natural. Why didn’t Rosenthal report any MLB front-office frustrations? ESPN bias is against the free agent players, in an attempt to vilify ALL players (even the underpaid younger ones) as greedy & selfish. If no one wanted JD Martinez or Eric Hosmer, then there wouldn’t be all this cyber ink being spilled.

Miami Marlins news: An apologist & anonymous [!] AP writer assumes outfielder Lewis Brinson and the young prospects they received in their dump deals will pan out, only questioning whether the Marlins will be able to retain them in arbitration or beyond. But what if they don’t pan out? If that’s the case, then Derek Jeter & GM Mike Hill got nothing in return for four All-Stars. That leads Jeter to say stuff like, “I didn’t answer [the question], but we are listening.” [4]

Update: 2-9-18  Friday ~ Noon:

The shoddy & biased journalism continues. This free-agent hotstove piece is another buffer to blow smoke between the fans who want to know and the people who want to stay hidden. Just read these “updates” from MLB.com, which are entirely innuendo (whose?), as no one is on record:

“Brewers and Twins could be among the teams who have offered Darvish a nine-figure contract, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Thursday….”

“A source told Heyman that Milwaukee is one of the clubs that has made Darvish a $100 million-plus offer.”

“Also per Heyman’s report, the Twins are believed to have been willing to offer Darvish a deal of five years or more…” [5]

Who are these “sources,” and what’s their credibility? I’ve seen online comments that say these things– is that a “source” here? This is speculation and nothing more. Until any of these “sources” can be confirmed with specifics, then there is nothing going on but manipulation. The question becomes: who’s behind this?

What’s going on is a factional war, much similar politically to the Trump military fascists (hard-line MLB owners), going off against the Democratic deep state Wall Street-intelligence apparatus (MLBPA & the agents). The minor leaguers & arbitration & pre-arbitration players are the working class, underpaid, exploited, and the vast majority.

The sell-out union bureaucracy signed off on this rotten CBA, which now even prevents free-agents from maximizing their value, due to the structure of the deal. No one feels sorry for guys who turn down 7/$140M or 5/$125M deals, but experience told Scott Boras (and all the rest), that was the play. Up until this year, the agents had always been right, and have profited handsomely. Remember, most of these player end up broke, five years after retirement. It’s the agents & networks who stick around to become rich & powerful.

So here we are, with pitcher’s & catcher’s reporting in less than a week, with RHP’s Hu Darvish & Jake Arrieta still unsigned. I believe the reports that claim the Brewers & Twins have made offers for Darvish, as he’s more desirable (< risky) than Arrieta. It’s a crapshoot with either, and that’s why so many have stayed away. Most don’t believe either pitcher can hold up, for the money they’re demanding.

The point is, it’s apparently two small-market teams making the strongest offers. That tells you the price has gone down dramatically. It’s the Yankees, Red Sox & Dodgers that drive up the free-agent market, and they aren’t interested. The Cubs are luke warm. That’s the dynamic in play, but never reported or analyzed in any meaningful way. That too is by design, and is in line with the “fake news,” Internet censorship & witch-hunting campaigns that are going on daily in what is called “news & politics.”

A small market team looking to boost their rotation would love to have Hu Darvish, but the terms need to be fair for the club and their fans. An overpay will cripple either of these franchises. A fair contract, followed by an arm blow-out is another deadly risk. I don’t see anything more than $60M and 3-4 years for either. It could even be less. If these pitchers get more, then someone overpaid, and it will hurt– sooner or later.

Updated 2-10-18   Saturday ~ Noon:

Here’s a look at the current MLB free-agent headlines, along with my comments…

Teams eyeing shorter-term deal with Arrieta [6]

“CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range.”

Last year was RHP Jake Arrieta’s age-31 season, where he produced 1.9 WAR while being paid $15.6M by the Cubs. In 2015, he was the best pitcher in MLB, winning the NL Cy Young Award; he made $3.6M that year while being worth 8.4 WAR.

This is the problem with MLB contracts. The don’t pay the player what he’s worth, when he’s young & valuable. Now the players can’t get paid to make up for it, even in free-agency! Most players never reach free agency. This is the problem with the new CBA, negotiated by the sell-out MLBPA and the influential agents.

Rangers won’t rule out major free-agent grab
Stagnant market leaves things up in air for many, including Darvish, Rangers [7]

“Stagnant free-agent market” means no Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers or Dodgers blowing up the bidding. That’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

With eye to future, 5 clubs primed to pounce
Expiring contracts after ’18 has these teams in position to make a splash now [8]

Everyone of these listed FA players could help the assigned team in the article above. No question. The rub is: How much do they pay and for how long?  On that there is nothing.

IMG Academy, MLBPA join forces to host free-agent camp in Florida [9]

It will be the camp that no one wants to attend. Will they be selling tickets?

==== Saturday  ~10:00 PM ====

How Darvish deal impacts FA market
Dodgers could pursue available right-handers Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb [10]

Hu Darvish has reportedly agreed to a 6-yr/$126M deal with the Cubs, pending a physical. Darvish was the best pitcher available, but it’s still an overpay, because it’s the Cubs. That’s what top pitching costs, even in a depressed market. Darvish was traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in 2017, so he doesn’t have a compensation pick tied to his signing.

Therefore, this free agent market is now capped at $21/year, as no remaining player is more valuable than Hu Darvish. One can now infer that the reported offers for OF/DH J.D. Martinez (5/125– Boston) and 1B Eric Hosmer (7/140– San Diego) are fictional at this point, and not-to-be-believed in media reports. Teams don’t need these bats like they need pitching. The big free-agent crash is still yet to come…

 

Monday 2-12-18 ~5:30 PM

Even as spring training begins, baseball’s endless offseason lingers [11]

The SD Padres under GM AJ Preller are the most-current example of why we have these new CBA rules. The Padres went into rebuild mode after their 2015 disaster campaign, where they had loaded up on free agents & contract veterans– James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, BJ (Melvin) Upton, Craig Kimbrel & Ian Kennedy– and then crashed spectacularly.

Preller got busy after that season by trading Kimbrel to Boston for a huge prospect haul. AJP also collected compensation (QO) picks for J Upton & Ian Kennedy. Preller dumped the rest (and ate contract as needed) for whatever he could get in 2016, including SS prospect Fernando Tatis Jr from the White Sox for Shields. AJP even dumped his best organizational players, in sending RHP Andrew Cashner to Miami, and LHP Drew Pomeranz to Boston.

The Padres finished 4th in the NL West in 2015, and last 2016– netting high picks in all the drafts (Amateur, Rule 5 & Intl), and used them to their advantage. Example: carrying five Rule 5 players in 2016 & 2017 combined! AJP then broke the bank on the International draft in summer of 2016, spending ~$75M in acquiring a once-in-a-lifetime bounty of young talent. That provoked all the CBA rules changes, to which the players, MLBPA, and agents have yet to figure out.

Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins [12]

The fan comments to yet-another ‘rumor piece’ on MLB.com are brutal & enlightening in their clarity & honesty. The fans know, and are now talking back to Scott Boras & the media… 120+ people listening…

It has been this author’s contention that a handful of super agents led by Scott Boras have been able to control the players’ union and manipulate MLB GM’s, to inflate the value of free agency– for decades. Now the market has come down to Boras, as he holds the top remaining pitcher– Jake Arrieta; along with the top remaining position players in: OF/DH JD Martinez, 1B Eric Hosmer & 3B Mike Moustakas (age 29, career: .251/.305/.425)– whom the Yankees would like at the right price. This is where the market will set, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whom among them will sign first? It will be a shocker to many (I can assure you), and a bloodbath from there on… Stay tuned!

Tuesday 2-13-18  ~ 9:00 AM

MLBPA bars media from covering free-agent training camp [13]

Tony Clark and the agents need to make a statement on this. What if a player gets seriously hurt in this free -gent camp? Who will pay for that player’s treatment and rehab? Why are they here in the first place? Why all the secrecy from the MLBPA? Is it because these are tough questions they can’t answer?

JD reunion with D-backs seems unlikely [14]

Did anyone notice the price tag on JD Martinez has just been dropped?!

“Reports have the Red Sox offering Martinez five years at over $100 million…”

That’s down from 5/$125M, which has been the number MLB has “reported” all off-season.

Wednesday 2-14-18  ~ 8:00 AM

Padres have Myers focused on first base
Club confident slugger could make quick adjustment back to outfield if Hosmer signs [15]

There is no other team interested in Eric Hosmer, as the Royals don’t want him back. He not going to sit the season out. Eric Hosmer has to play somewhere, and San Diego is the only fit. AJ Preller will wait as long as he has to, for Boras & Hosmer to give in.

This article is a message to them, the Padres have a contingency plan they can go with if they don’t sign him, which give them extra leverage. I put the chances of the Padres getting Hosmer at over 80% at this point. The contract length will be 4 years max, and no more than $75M.

D-backs exploring ‘creative’ ways to sign J.D. [16]

It’s now officially 5/$100M from Boston for Martinez, with no other bidders. The D-Backs can’t afford JD Martinez, with RHP Zack Greinke & 1B Paul Goldschmidt on the payroll already, as they are not a top-10 revenue club. The price for these remaining free-agents will continue to drop, unless other teams get serious, which doesn’t appear will be the case. That’s how this free-agent market is not working.

Yu’s a Cub, so Cards must make a FA splash

Closer Holland and third baseman Moustakas would both fill voids in St. Louis [17]

This is a shamefully obvious Scott Boras propaganda piece for 3B Mike Moustakas by Richard Justice. No mention that the Cardinals already acquired a major bat this off-season in CF Marcell Ozuna. What the Cards need is young starting pitching– like everyone else, not an aging & expensive closer in Greg Holland. Lazy & deceitful sports journalism from ESPN & MLB– all down the line.

Sunday 2-18-18 ~10:00 AM

Sources: Padres, Hosmer agree to 8-year deal [18]

The best free-agent position player signed with the Padres (8 yrs/$144M). When have you ever read that? This team is going to be competitive much sooner than people believe. I’ve seen prognostications for the Padres getting a few as 67 wins this season, which is silly & lazy analysis. This team will approach 80 wins in 2018, and be ready to compete for a WC in 2019.

Hosmer’s arrival will reshape outfield, lineup [19]

The Padres got the player they needed. As far as the contract numbers go, it’s hard to tell how it will all shake down with the opt-out (after the 5th year) and limited no-trade protection (after 3 years). Hosmer gets $20M for the first 5 seasons, the $13M for the last three. There is a $5M signing bonus, all totaling $144M. This deal doesn’t break the Padres, and gets them the OBP and improved defense they desperately needed. I can see AJP dealing Hosmer after the 3rd or 4th year. The Padres can hold on to Hosmer (if he’s aging well), and still trade him later if necessary, because his contract doesn’t balloon at the end. That’s the problem with albatrosses. Injury is the most significant risk for the Padres here.

Good day for Padres fans, as this was a bit of an overpay, but not a franchise back-breaker. They lose their third pick in the upcoming June amateur draft, which goes to the KC Royals as compensation. If the Padres had been picking outside the top-10, this contract would have been for less money, as the Padres would have been forced to forfeit their 1st-round pick– which is much more valuable.

You KNOW there was tough negotiating on all sides, as a whole lot of issues are in play, These are highly-intelligent & competitive people involved. Now the Padres have their 2018 lineup, and their fans are happy because it’s a whole lot better!

Tuesday 2-20-18   ~4:00 PM

JD Martinez has reportedly agreed to a 5/$110M with Boston Red Sox, with opt-out clauses after the second and third year. Martinez will be paid $25 million in 2018 and ’19 before the first opt out, Then $22 million in 2020 before the second opt out, and $19 million in the last two years, if he remains with the club. [20]

Everyone loves baseball again, how nice! Look for the top pitchers: Arrieta, Cobb & Lynn to go next… Then it’s one-year and even minor-league deals for most of the rest. Owners and GM’s have gone with youth over expensive veteran players, so many won’t even get a guaranteed contract offer it appears. Major CBA disaster for the players, that’s the off-season lesson in MLB.

Final Padres Notes:

Padres 2018 Opening Day line-up: CF Margot (R), 3B Headley (S), 1B Hosmer (L), RF Myers (R), LF Renfroe (R), 2B Asuaje (L), SS Galvis (S), C Hedges (R), LHP Richard. That’s a measurable improvement in OBP & L/R balance. The power is there too. If Myers & Renfroe can put it together, this lineup will be a monster for years to come.

Padres starting pitching is still too mediocre (and right-handed) to be competitive. When it comes to making the post-season and winning, it’s all about pitching. Clayton Richard & Robbie Erlin are the only lefty starter options for the Padres. This team can’t contend without better frontline starters, especially lefties. Their bullpen is solid, with LHP Brad Hand signed for the next 4 years, instead of traded away like all the ‘experts’ predicted. I predict 81-81 for the Padres in 2018.

Consider that AJP filled (or upgraded) every positional hole this off-season, and almost pulled off landing ace RHP Shohei Ohtani! Since Ohtani went to the Angels, Padres fans will have to wait another year for their top young pitching to arrive.

Every GM wanted to get at AJP’s prospects, and the only thing he dealt was RHP Enyel De Los Santos (minors) in the Freddy Galvis trade. AJ Preller also picked up a back-up catcher (AJ Ellis) and possibly a #2 starter (RHP Tyson Ross) on minor league deals. That wins the off-season for efficiency & brains, and only the Angels can rightly claim they did better than the Friars.

The market for free agent starters: Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb & Lance Lynn will now take shape and consummate. All are probably too expensive for the Padres– and the rest is junk. There is nothing among this trio better than a #2 starter, and it’s high risk– especially with Arrieta. Lynn & Cobb are solid but more like #3 starters on championship teams. Luckily, AJP did a nice job stockpiling cheap arms over the winter, among his other activities, so he won’t be tempted to overpay for mediocrity.

The simplest rules in free agency are: 1) don’t over spend, 2) and sign the right guy for your needs. The Padres did both here, so it’s a successful off-season for them. The Padres needed a stabilizer in the middle of their line-up, as well as a team leader. Eric Hosmer provides that, as Wil Myers wasn’t the guy for that role. That’s a wrap. Over & Out on this free agency season.

Play ball!!

……….,.,><><><><><><>……….

Wannabe a Sucker?

On August 11, 2017 it was announced in the Miami Herald that owner Jeffrey Loria had agreed to sell the Miami Marlins for $1.2 billion, to a group led by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Much exhalation ensued, as fans celebrated the exiting of one of the most hated owners in sports history. But like so many other major stories, when people think it’s over, it’s really only the beginning. For Marlins fans, how could anything be worse than the Loria-era?

The story of this MLB off-season, since the Shohei Ohtani affair (which of course never happened), has been the on-going fire sale of the Miami Marlins. Derek Jeter is now CEO of Marlins baseball operations. So far he has given away RF Giancarlo Stanton, CF Marcel Ozuna, and 2B Dee Gordon; each of them All-Stars and one the reigning MVP. Now Jeter is dangling LF Christian Yelich, and catcher JT Realmuto.

When you say you’ll only accept an “overpay,” yet put your team in a position where it MUST sell– then you won’t make a deal with grown-ups.

Notable Unsigned MLB Free Agents:

1B Eric Hosmer
RHP Yu Darvish
RF J.D. Martinez
RHP Jake Arrieta
CF Lorenzo Cain
3B Mike Moustakas
3B Todd Frazier

The reason the MLB free-agent market has been so slow the winter, is because everyone is waiting for the Marlins to complete their fire sale, now with Yelich & Realmuto on the block. Unfortunately, Jeter has once again over-valued his assets, and can’t pull either of them back, without losing even more value. Jeter is putting the Marlins franchise in a position to make another mistake, by insisting on too much, and thus freezing out the market which includes the Braves, White Sox, Padres, Phillies, Nationals & Diamondbacks among others.

One point on money & wins above replacement (WAR). It can’t be valued at anything higher than $5M/win on the free-agent market, without becoming distorted. Contract length should not exceed 5 years, as these players are all age 27 or older which means they are about to go into decline. Albert Pujols & A-Rod albatrosses not only cripple individual franchises who buy into them, but also irrationally set the market.

There are smart GM’s in play, and top prospects are gold, so you can’t steal top talent like you used to, even a few years back. This gap between Derek Jeter’s wannabe-GM expectations, and current market realities, is what’s holding up this off-season. As of now, no GM wants to make a big free-agent signing until Derek Jeter is done blowing up the Marlins. That’s why Eric Hosmer & JD Martinez are still unsigned, and haven’t drawn much interest as of yet.

Derek Jeter is way out of his league running a franchise, and the only reason he’s doing so, is because he’s 4% owner. The reason your hire a front office & GM is to separate money from brains, as much as possible– which is wise. Jeter is simply making decisions that benefit him as an owner, under the guise of being a qualified baseball executive. The baseball fans of Miami, who have been swindled over & over again, are seeing it happen once again right before their eyes, and they aren’t fooled.

If Jeter doesn’t like the prospect packages that are being offered, then why doesn’t he insist someone take LHP Wei-Yin Chen, to move some dead money? That’s what Jeter really wants, as we all saw in the Stanton dump/gift. Proof? Look at the three players the Marlins are apparently going to arbitration with, the difference in money is $1,175,000– total! It doesn’t get much cheaper than this:

MLB.com has confirmed JT Realmuto has filed for $3.5 million, while the Marlins’ offer is $2.9 million. Justin Bour’s figure is $3.4 million, with the team countering at $3 million. RHP Dan Straily is seeking $3.55 million, to the team’s $3.375 million. [1]

When you poison the mood of the franchise, by immediately coming in and putting the reigning NL MVP on the trade block, before ever consulting him and his teammates, then you are not respecting the players. When you disrespect longtime fans by summarily dismissing popular announcers & other organizational personnel, then business will suffer. If you then try to hire some of them back after the negative PR backlash, then you haven’t planned anything [2].

Jeter was “The Captain” in the Bronx at shortstop, and pretty much demanded he be given that title from ownership, which George Steinbrenner did– against manager Joe Torre’s advice. Management of the NY Yankees franchise suffered from that point on, as they became married to an expensive and aging SS (a poor defender from the start), who still demanded superstar pay & pampering. Now as Marlins GM & owner, Jeter skinflints three valuable young players in arbitration.

Alex Rodriguez was never allowed to play SS in the Bronx, because of Derek Jeter’s ego, and the Yankees suffered for it, winning only one World Series (2009) while the two were “teammates,” on a roster with annually the highest payroll in baseball. Of course, teammates in any real sense of the term implies support & love for one another, and clearly that was never their relationship. It was always Jeter’s call, since he was the prince of the town, with all his past World Series glory in the bank.

Instead, he chose to be selfish and flex his muscle as “The Captain,” making Alex Rodriguez move to 3B. The Yankees could never fill CF adequately, and still haven’t. A winning team positions it’s players carefully, where they are most valuable; not according to the whims of a star player or media clamoring. Instead of moving to centerfield, like the team needed, Derek Jeter stayed at shortstop and distanced himself from Arod at every turn. If you didn’t see this when it was happening, then you weren’t paying attention.

The Marlins did have a great CF, until Jeter gave him away to the Cardinals. Marcell Ozuna slashed .312/.376/.548 in 2017, worth 5.8 WAR. On December 14, 2017, Derek Jeter flipped two years of Marcell Ozuna under arbitration control for Daniel Castano (minors), Zac Gallen (minors), fringy righty-reliever Sandy Alcantara, and light-hitting lefty outfielder Magneuris Sierra. The two prospects (Castano & Gallen) are middling-to-fringy.

The week before, on December 7, 2017, Jeter traded 2B Dee Gordon along with international bonus slot money to the Seattle Mariners for Robert Dugger (minors), Nick Neidert (minors) and Christopher Torres (minors). Gordon hit .308/.341/.375 with good defense in 2017, good for 3.1 WAR. This was probably Derek Jeter’s best trade so far (not saying much), getting two pitchers and a switching-hitting middle infield prospect. Dee Gordon will be age 30 this April, and is a luxury the Marlins probably can’t afford for the next three seasons. Let’s see how the player development & farm rebuilding pans out for the Marlins.

Of course, a major MLB earthquake occurred on December 11, 2017, when the Marlins dumped RF Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, who took on $265M out of the $295M owed to him. The Stanton deal was a straight salary dump for the Marlins, and a poorly executed one at that. The Miami Marlins will pay $30M to New York Yankees when Stanton does not opt-out, following the 2020 season. The Marlins also took on $24M for 2B Starlin Castro over the next two seasons, including his buyout after 2019. Expect Jeter to dump Castro, after Yelich & Realmuto. The two “prospects” the Marlins received in the Stanton deal were:

1) RHP Jorge Guzman, about to turn age 22, a starter who never pitched above low-A, with only 162 IP in 3 professional seasons.

2) SS/2B prospect Jose Devers: 1 pro season .245/.336/.342.

This is what the Marlins got for the NL MVP! When Jeter couldn’t get a decent offer for Giancarlo Stanton, he should have taken him off the market and rolled through 2018 with him. Stanton has 10 years left on his deal, so why the rush to trade him? Derek Jeter got a 28-YO poor-fielding 2B with a career line of .282/.320/.413, who is owed $24M through the next 2 seasons in Starlin Castro. Giancarlo Stanton is worth much more than that, even with his backloaded contract. The Marlins desperately need prospects, and got junk. Jeter opted for cash savings, and the Marlins franchise got fleeced. Now Jeter insists anyone else who deals with the Marlins must “overpay.” That’s delusional. How about some solid work instead, Derek Jeter?

Ownership in Miami is short-stacked. Derek Jeter owns 4% non-controlling stake of the team, which means he kicked in ~$50M towards the $1.2B purchase-price for the Marlins. Bruce Sherman is the majority owner, and he put Jeter in charge of the baseball side, with a five year deal worth ~ $50M in salary. Convenient, huh? Jeter has no GM experience. It is clear that this new ownership group overpaid, and is now out of cash. That’s why they dumped the reigning NL MVP to the Yankees. Meanwhile the taxpayers of Miami continue to pay the $1.2B note on the bond to build the new Marlins stadium, which no one wanted– except their owner.  BTW, that stadium debt and the Marlins sale price being identical (at $1.2 billion), is just another coincidence.

While all this looks good for the Marlins bottom line, it hurts their ability to compete & their fan friendliness– immeasurably. Most of this is on Jeffery Loria, as he pumped & dumped the Marlins, but Sherman & Jeter are also at fault for overpaying, and putting themselves in this no-win situation. Under this existing plan, Marlins fans are looking at a 6-8 year rebuild– minimum. If you know anything about this franchise’s past, then you know there won’t be any Marlins fans left by then.

MLB.com Censorship:

Since the Ohtani Affair, everyone who posts on mlb.com lost their screen name, and reclaiming it has been a difficult process for most. I have reclaimed mine, and am no longer “commenter,” like many others– still.  Unfortunately, I am now unable to post a comment:

Even my “Likes” get ghosted!

Fans everywhere have noticed all this, and are starting to figure it out & direct their anger towards those responsible. This is the greatest fear of MLB owners, the corporate media, and the entire political-economic set-up. This is why everything on the Internet is being censored at this point.

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Power Couples & Brain Drain

Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers (QB– Green Bay Packers), are dating. Have you heard?  It keeps showing up in my online news feeds, so I suppose I must comment. For the record, I am a fan of both of them. I don’t like the NFL, just as I despise NASCAR, as both are fronts for capitalist hypocrisy– like the rest of sports & entertainment. As a socialist, I always support the workers who create the actual value. Sports are entertainment, and athletes are the performers we pay to watch. When our needs are met, we all like to be entertained.

Fact: Both of these world-class athletes have had numerous concussions in their careers.  “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?” is the most-read piece on this site. Published in the spring of 2016, a few YouTube videos I used as evidence, have since been taken down by their owners. I’ve left everything alone, as everything stands up, while illustrating the progression of reaction [1].

Danica Patrick has been wrecked so often, and so violently, that she surely has a level of CTE. Her behavior at the end of the 2017 season betrayed an inability to process reality, namely that her career was ending [2]. The word around the track was that she often exploded with a torrent of expletives.  Many blow-it-off as her being a superstar, and snapping under the pressure. But it’s on top of the repeated concussions she received, that puts everything into context. The point is, she was never intentionally wrecked in Indycar, compared to the way she has been viciously taken out of races in NASCAR. She’s likely suffered brain damage from this, but no one will admit it– or even comment on it. Except me [3].

Keep in mind that Daytona & Talladega Superspeedways are the two most dangerous race tracks in the world [4]. Danica Patrick rarely even finishes those races anymore. Her last run in NASCAR is to be this year’s Daytona 500, their signature event. This mass insanity is the Super Bowl kick-off to NASCAR’s premier series, which is losing sponsorship by the second. In this sense, NASCAR is grateful to have Danica one last time, until the race actually starts that is. Then NASCAR wants her out– ASAP. Nothing shrivels up NASCAR faster than Danica running up front.

In 2017, corporate sponsors insisted on a staged-race format, which allowed more TV timeouts for advertisers & the networks [5]. It’s so interesting to hear them talk, while the race is stopped, just for them. Of course, fans universally hated it, but have been told they have no choice but to agree, as television money is the only thing keeping NASCAR from bankrupting itself [6].

Owned & run by the France family since its inception, NASCAR prospered during the post-war boom, and became a trademark of pride in the South. Since the mid-1990’s, it has been forced to expand into other US markets, in order to find the money. NASCAR die-hards don’t get excited about races in Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas & California; but that’s where NASCAR’s owners built the new tracks for its premier series.

I don’t write much about the NFL, because I feel I covered it already in two pieces I published in 2015, just before the Ray Rice incident hit the media [7]. Nothing has changed, in terms of the NFL (or the NFLPA) in getting better, so the final score on that piece remains: Ric Size– 256,  NFL– 3  [8].  Jan Stenerud (and too many others) were just too great, otherwise I had a shut-out. I tip my helmet to all the players, for their toughness, while being sympathetic to the pain & injustices they’ve had to endure from their owners and the league.

As I mentioned in that piece, Aaron Rodgers is a HoF QB. As of this publication, he is still recovering from a gruesome collar bone injury he sustained during the 2017 NFL season. I recall him appearing on a late-night talk show soon after he had surgery, claiming he had 13 screws in his shoulder, and was narced up on opioid painkillers [9]. That’s life in the NFL, boys & girls. Whatever he gets paid, it’s probably not enough, as 80+% of NFL players are broke 5 years after they retire [10].

As for brand Danica, she always finds a way to hustle the money. That largely defines her, and it’s why she manages her image so carefully. Her retirement campaign slogan is “1000 Miles,” in that she plans to run Daytona in February, which will cap her NASCAR career, and then run the Indianapolis 500— one last time. The rumor is she will do this with Chip-Gnassi Racing, but nothing has been made official yet. Therefore it may, or may not happen– we still don’t really know?

Here it is on her site [11]:

02.18.18 Daytona 500 Daytona Intl. Speedway FOX – 2:30 PM

05.27.18 Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC – 12:00 PM

I hope it happens, but I don’t expect her to get to 1000 miles. She always seems to get wrecked at the Daytona 500, just check the records & review the video. She’s been wrecked in qualifying & practice there, mostly by Denny Hamlin. Joe Gibbs Racing targets her, and she no longer has the protection of Stewart Haas Racing, or her “boyfriend” Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I put that intimate term in quotation marks here, because I never saw anything but a relationship of convenience between those two. Many NASCAR fans will be interested to hear what Stenhouse has to say at Daytona. Honestly, I’ve seen & heard enough already.

Personally, I hope Danica Patrick sponsors herself at Daytona, as she has plenty of product in her clothing line, winery, etc… If it’s your last run, do it for yourself– I say. She can surely afford it. Aspen Dental was her primary sponsor in 2017, and they are a criminal corporate enterprise, which is starting to negatively impact her brand [12]. That’s when things get serious for her. These are the most-interesting storylines, for me.

Mostly I only hope she doesn’t get wrecked. At least it’s not Talladega, which is the most dangerous track in the world [13].  My final thoughts on safety at both those tracks is for all their races to become road course design. You can run part of the lap on the fast track, then divert to road course to spill the drivers out somewhere else up the track. This would eliminate the all-dangerous draft, which happens when cars build up speed lap-after-lap on a super-speedway, especially as they run together. These death tracks becomes two long lines of cars separated by mere inches going ~200 MPH, while surging forwards & backwards. Mayhem ensues when someone (inevitably) bumps someone or goes three-wide at the wrong time, usually in a corner. This road course innovation would also eliminate the hated restrictor plate.

I’m more excited to see Patrick finish (for real) at the Indianapolis 500. For those who don’t know, this happens every Memorial Day weekend, as it’s a big event in racing– worldwide. The Indianapolis 500 is much bigger than anything NASCAR puts on, as they run their Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. Their goal is to claim superiority at their new home track, on mileage, if not in quality of the race. Note that when NASCAR last ran at Indianapolis, they ended up cutting the race short– due to reckless incompetence & impending darkness [14].

Danica Patrick will go down as one of the all-time great drivers, simply for surviving her career. Her skills behind the wheel are elite, and can’t be measured by her finishes– especially in NASCAR. She faced obstacles no other competitor ever had to face. Perhaps her greatest contribution will be her part in exposing the hypocrisy that is NASCAR, and it’s broadcast partners in the media. Her fans were shell-shocked for the longest time, until something [?] woke them up.

Danica Patrick was never (& still isn’t) allowed to say how she really feels about everything that’s happened to her, as the sponsors have her under contract. When she wrecks, they make more money. Parading across the finish line in 23rd place doesn’t have the same effect. You understand, pardner?  Her fans now understand all this much better.

In many ways, Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers are trading in their brains for all the money they can get now. This is only natural, as they both are still smart enough to know they are probably going to need the money. But what about their brains? Note that these are the winners, whom everyone admires. No one sees anything else, because no one actually cares about them as people. Few of us think outside ourselves, in the context of the greater hypocrisy that is capitalism. This new couple is simply presented as the best of capitalism, personified.

They are only admired & coveted because they are beautiful & rich. Too many people still want this for themselves, not realizing that the existing economic set-up is unsustainable. I hope Patrick & Rodgers stay together and take care of each other, even if they become afflicted & poor. They are going to need each other. Others need to realize that, and what all this means.

Update January 23, 2018;  ~ Noon EST:

RE: Danica Patrick to drive Daytona 500 for Premium Motorsports

NASCAR social media is dead all off-season, until Danica Patrick finds a ride– then the comments start, and it gets passionate in a hurry!  NASCAR is gonna really miss her star power, even though they mostly hate her.

Premium Motorsports is down there with Tri-Star & BK Racing, as the worst-of-the-worst teams. Owned by Jay Robinson, this criminal operation was Reed Sorenson’s ride last year, and was also the team that ran the infamous “Trump car” in 2016 at Texas [15].

This is Danica, with GoDaddy as her sponsor, and no real friends in NASCAR. The draft equalizes things at Daytona, which helps significantly here, but don’t expect much from her in her last run. Simply finishing the race would be an improvement over SHR. I believe she’ll have an easier time finding a competitive ride for the Indianapolis 500, but we’ll see…

Update February 13, 2018 (Tuesday) ~10:30 AM

Bubble drama for Daytona 500 not the same, and that’s a shame [16]

So much of racin’ is hatin’ on others– as much as rootin’ for your favorite(s). People won’t admit that, because so much of this sport is about lyin’. Whether you love her or hate her, Danica Patrick’s last run is THE story of this Daytona 500. NASCAR is really going suck without her & Junior.

After Daytona, it’s back to reality with all of NASCAR’s issues. No sponsorship, and their charter system about to collapse. It will be official when BK Racing defaults their charter to their lender, which is now in court. Then we’ll get an independent appraisal of a NASCAR charter, which should be very interesting. Note that there are many connotations for “interesting,” and most are negative.

Danica Patrick featured in GoDaddy ad, showing transition off the track [17]

This is an amusing article, in that it’s partly Danica (through the anonymous AP) telling all her haters to fuck off. She’s a busy beaver, no question… LOL!!

Update: Thursday 2-15-18

Danica Patrick joining Ed Carpenter Racing for Indy 500 swan song [18]

Nice reportin’, Bob Pockrass. That was the final question in this saga.

Sunday 2-18-18  ~9:30 PM

Danica Patrick wreck in Daytona 500 ends NASCAR racing career prematurely [20]

Story of her NASCAR career. No one better to be a fan of in racing than Danica Patrick. Thanks for the NASCAR run, and good luck at Indy!!

Over & Out

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