Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

Author Archives: Brien Jackson

Will Chavez’s death bring baseball “sweatshops” back to Venezuela?

Chavez

In case you don’t pay even a cursory amount of attention to world news: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died of cancer last week. The controversial (yes, I hate that euphemism too) leader was best known as the most visible figure in the South American socialist movement, largely due to his fondness for loudly and prominently criticizing the United States government in the harshest of terms. His death and political divisions in the country are likely to create quite a bit of turmoil in Venezuela as various factions strive to seize control in the vacuum of power, and Major League Baseball sits among those who will watch with intense interest in the future direction of the nation that boasts more major league players than anyone other than the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

In recent years Chavez, a huge baseball fan, had been attempting to exert some control over MLB franchises’ academy system in Venezuela. In particular, Chavez wanted to levy a 10% tax on MLB for the signing bonuses the players received, and require MLB to pay to educate the players and give them job training outside of simply playing baseball, as noted by Dave Zirin at The Nation just after Chavez’s death:

He told MLB that they would have to institute employee and player benefits and job protections.

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Rivera’s legacy about much more than games saved

Mariano Rivera
Though yesterday’s reports that Mariano Rivera will be announcing his intention to retire after this season tomorrow were hardly surprising, they aren’t exactly welcome by any means. Much like last year, when Rivera seemed poised to announce it would be his final season before that torn ACL knocked him out of action for the final five months of the season and apparently caused him to reconsider, the realization that we’ll all soon be living in a world that does not include number 42 closing games for the Yankees is jarring, and should inspire a sense of loss in baseball fans everywhere.

The first baseball season I can consciously remember being aware of was the 1995 season, but given that I didn’t have ESPN at the time I didn’t get a chance to pay much attention to things going on outside of Cincinnati and whatever was being covered on the local news there. That was remedied the following season, so for all intents and purposes, my entire lifetime as a fan of MLB has involved Mariano Rivera.…

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Michael Weiner’s head still firmly buried in the sand

MWeiner

It’s been a rough 15 months or so for the Major League Baseball Players Association. After hastily and enthusiastically agreeing to a new collective bargaining with the league amidst an unprecedented lack of rancor and with very little push back against Commissioner Selig’s top priorities, the players and union officials were quickly confronted with the realization that, no, the days of baseballs’ owners constantly trying to get one over on the players were not over, and that the unions desire to take a business partner like approach with the league was not going to be reciprocated.

The rude awakening really began with the overturning of Ryan Braun’s PED related suspension last winter. Despite the fact that MLBPA has been as agreeable as any sports union out there to drug testing, pushing well into the realm of vigorously supporting efforts to catch players taking banned substances, the league reacted to long time and well respected arbitrator Shyam Das’ decision not with respectful acceptance of the decision and the union’s pro-testing position, but by blasting the decision, making laughable threats to appeal the ruling in federal court, and taking the downright remarkable step of firing the jointly employed arbitrator for having the nerve to rule against their position in a high profile case.…

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The last chapter of The Joba Saga?

joba frustrated

Has there ever been a more bizarrely polarizing player than Joba Chamberlain? Don’t get me wrong, there have certainly been more polarizing athletes than Joba, but in general you can understand why these players produce the strong reactions in people that they do. To break it down, there are two main categories of really polarizing athletes. Your first group, best embodied by such luminaries as Barry Bonds and Ray Lewis, are the all-time great caliber players who are absolutely beloved by their own fan base, but pretty roundly disliked by everyone else. The second group consists of obscenely talented, almost always extremely young, players who seem to absolutely dominate their competition without even breaking a sweat, causing some people to admire them and other to buck the crowd and despise them. Lebron James and Alex Rodriguez are the two examples of this group that immediately come to mind.

But by and large, there’s one nearly unfailing thread that binds all of these players together as a group: they’re really good!

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How dire is the 2013 outlook?

As the weather warms up and the Alex Rodriguez scandal fades a bit with real baseball games being played, expect this to be the new top problem for the Yankees:

You have to go all the way back to 1992 for a spring training of lower expectations than this one for both the Yankees and the Mets, where in both cases, our locals have a better chance of finishing last than finishing first this season.

[...]

When last seen, the Yankees were being booed out of the Stadium amid a blizzard of strikeouts en route to being swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS last October, while the Mets, after playing above .500 baseball up until July 20, limped home with a 12-18 September, in front of a lot of empty seats, finishing fourth, 74-88.

Unfortunately, the offseason bore little fruit for either team in its hopes for a better ending in 2013. In the Yankees’ case there is sufficient evidence that they’ve regressed while GM Brian Cashman has sat back and watched one prospective improvement player after another go elsewhere, the latest being switch-hitting shortstop Jed Lowrie, who had 16 homers and 42 RBI with the Astros last year, and went to the Oakland A’s for defensively challenged first baseman Chris Carter and a couple of so-so prospects.

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Hal speaks on A-Rod, Cano

Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner just spent some time talking to reporters in Tampa, and with plenty to talk about with less than five days until camp officially opened, he dropped a handful of interesting tidbits. Here’s a rundown:

  • The Yankees are concerned about the latest allegations of PED usage by Alex Rodriguez, but the situation is ot of their hands. MLB is investigating the matter and the league, not the Yankees, will be responsible fo handing out any punishment Alex might be in line for.
  • The Yankees have talked about an extension with Robinson Cano “recently,” and Hal would like to see Robbie as a career Yankee.
  • The Yankees are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Hal thinks there’s still time to find one. Ya know, no one has ever stipulated that the Yankees are looking for a good one…
  • And finally, Hal still doesn’t understand why people call him cheap, referencing the one year pacts the Yankees gave Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte as his counter-examples.
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Dave for the Cave

On Wednesday night, Stacey and I hosted David Greenwald as our guest on On the Money. Dave is vying for a spot in MLB’s fan cave, and is the only Yankees fan from New York left in the running, which is about all it takes to get the coveted IIATMS endorsement in the contest. So if you’ve got a minute, consider giving Dave a vote, and enjoy this video he made as an application.

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On the Money 2/7/2012

A steroids free show for you tonight! Eschewing talk of doping and media reports for the evening, Stacey and I discuss the Mariners giving Felix Hernandez the largest contract ever for a pitcher, and then we wrap up our tour of the A.L. East competition by breaking down the division’s prohibitive favorites north of the border with Ruhee Dewji of Double Switching. Enjoy!

Listen to internet radio with IIATMS Radio on Blog Talk Radio

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Wait, why shouldn’t the media cooperate with MLB?

As the Biogenesis scandal moves into its next phase, the obvious question is what repercussions, if any, the players associated with Tony Bosch will face. MLB would like to investigate the matter, but most of the records are in the possession of the Miami New Times, and they aren’t sure they want to hand them over to MLB:

Here’s the truth: We haven’t yet decided what do with the records from Tony Bosch’s clinic. We’ve shared many of them already, posting them online last week after carefully redacting names of people we didn’t think were well enough confirmed or sufficiently newsworthy.

The question of whether to release the records is thorny, and there are few precedents. They were given to us by a source who requested anonymity. We will not divulge that person’s name. We take this responsibility very seriously.

Moreover, reporters are not law enforcement. Nor do we discipline anybody for anything. Our job is to transparently lay out the facts and let the public — and responsible parties — decide whether action is needed.

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