Some news away from the diamond got a bit lost in all the baseball last month.
In looking back, there's not as much good material left on the cutting-room floor as I thought there was, so I'm going to skip it. Apparently, I do a better job of leaving the weak stuff behind on a day-to-day basis than I think I do, and yes, you're welcome to treat that sentence as a set-up line.
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Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams may go to jail for standing by a principle. The witnesses whose testimony they published never had a chance to make that stand.
The Justice Department has determined that to meet its goals of indicting and prosecuting the people they believe to be guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice in the original BALCO case, they need to know who leaked that information to Fainaru-Wada and Williams. The two reporters, citing the principle that a free press requires that reporters be allowed to protect their sources, have refused to testify, which is why they were sentenced yesterday. (The punishment has been suspended pending an appeal.)
Between Curt Flood and Andy Messersmith, a key case moved baseball closer to the end of the reserve clause era.
In the winter of 1974, however, a different set of circumstances set one pitcher free on the open market. Jim "Catfish" Hunter's freedom was the product of a unique scenario.
On February 11, 1974, Hunter signed a standard MLB player contract that stipulated a two-year agreement with the Oakland Athletics. While negotiating the contract, Hunter requested, as an addendum, that his attorney J. Carlton Cherry seek Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approval to defer $50,000 of the annual salary. The provision called for half of Hunter's salary to be paid into an insurance company fund during the season, intended for the purchase of an annuity for his benefit following his playing career.
Notebook has a look at Jason Vargas in Florida, some bright spots on the Royals' roster, and an update on the Twins pitchers' historic walk-aversion.
Vargas was called up on July 14. This date was convenient for two reasons; one, it was the Southern League's All-Star break, and two, it afforded the Marlins the freedom of discarding Al Leiter. The big club is Vargas' fourth stop this season, a trek that has seen him streak from low A to the Majors, skipping only Triple-A Albuquerque on the way. Vargas, the 68th pick in the 2004 draft, became just the 6th member of his draft class to reach the majors, ascending after only Justin Verlander (pick #2), J.P. Howell (#31), Huston Street (#40), Jeff Fiorentino (#79), and Cla Meredith (#185). This is itself a major achievement. It was mentioned in the 2005 player comments for Taylor Tankersley that the Marlins have had success pushing players quickly through the minors. When Tankersley, whom the Fish drafted ahead of Vargas in '04, had to sit out the first two months of the season with shoulder tendonitis, the Marlins instead pushed Vargas, which was a bit surprising. Though he was rated highly by Baseball America, clocking in as Florida's 8th best prospect, BA's write up forecasted his ceiling for 2005 to be high Class A. And though BP ran a PECOTA forecast for him, he did not warrant a mention in the 2005 annual, joining Rob Tejeda as the only top 15 rookie pitchers who did not make the book.
The A's are planning to finance a new ballpark the 21st-century way.
From a design standpoint, Wolff's vision is certainly, uh, interesting.
Condo apartment blocks rise in left and center field, there's a giant
video screen where you'd expect the batter's eye, and...oh, just look at the
pictures. Wolff's stadium designers--I haven't been able to find out
who's behind these renderings, though I suspect the involvement of someone
at Sony--have shoehorned in "quirky" elements from a bunch of existing stadiums,
from a triangular bleacher section (Fenway) to seating on a building roof
in left field (Petco, though the A's building would be built anew rather
than incorporating an existing historic structure). And if it's hard to feel much
affection for the quirky when it's this contrived--had any warm fuzzies
about Houston's imitation of Duffy's
Cliff lately?--well, that's postmodernism for you.
In any case, it's pointless to take the designs too seriously at this
point. The final product, if it ever gets built, isn't likely to much
resemble the initial renderings. If renderings were destiny, Petco Park
would have a free picnic area in center field, the Phillies would be
playing in Chinatown, and the Metrodome would be rubble.
Steve Stone looks back on his days in Chicago, Barry Bonds is at the center of yet another controversy, hitting coaches band together, and that sound you hear is Lou Piniella's desk cleaning itself out...
"There's a certain amount of freedom when you don't have an allegiance to any one side. Over the course of 28 years in Chicago as a player and broadcaster, I met a lot of people who told me a lot of things, and I still know a lot more than I can say, but I'm able to say a lot more than I did before and it's fun." --former Cubs announcer Steve Stone, who "resigned" after a disagreement with Cubs players last season, on his new broadcaster freedoms (Arlington Heights Daily Herald)
With the regular season's finish line in sight, Chris Kahrl looks at the Expos' gracious loan of Alex Gonzalez, the Indians' 2005 middle infield situation, and the Scott Cooper of a new generation, all in today's Transaction Analysis.
The Orioles fulfill their quest for Jason Grimsley. The Reds are awash in infielders. The Astros get their man in Beltran. The A's get theirs in Dotel. The Royals...not so much. These and other happenings in a special Saturday edition of Trasnaction Analysis.