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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Crane: Players will apologize in Spring Training

HOUSTON—The Astros will apologize for the role they played in the recent sign-stealing saga when they assemble in West Palm Beach, Fla., next month, team owner Jim Crane said while addressing reporters at the Houston Sports Awards in downtown Houston on Tuesday.

Crane, noting the criticism select Astros players have taken for not making more contrite public statements at FanFest last weekend, said the players will “come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we’ll move forward.”

Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were the only marquee players from the 2017 World Series champion team to attend FanFest last Saturday. They each addressed the media but said little to clarify the role they and others played in the ...

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QLE Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:39 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: apologies, astros, dirty rotten cheaters, jim crane

Marcell Ozuna gets one-year deal from Braves worth $18 million

ATLANTA—Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna and the Atlanta Braves reached an $18 million, one-year deal Tuesday that puts him on the team he helped beat in the playoffs last October.

Ozuna hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the National League Division Series.

The 29-year-old Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI last season. His low batting average was something of an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast.

And the hot stove stays on!

QLE Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:37 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, hot stove, marcell ozuna

Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez doesn’t support Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers; ‘You’re just a bad te

Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez doesn’t support Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers, who now pitches for the Athletics.

“If he was to do it when he was playing for the Houston Astros, I would say Mike Fiers has guts,” Martinez said on WEEI on Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend. “But to go and do it after you leave the Houston Astros because they don’t have you anymore, that doesn’t show me anything. You’re just a bad teammate.”

Fiers, who pitched for the Astros in 2017, went on record with The Athletic to tell how the Astros used a center field camera to steal signs from opponents in 2017.

“Now everybody is going to know that you have a whistleblower in any other situation, too,” Martinez said. “Whatever happens in the ...

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QLE Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:32 AM | 134 comment(s)
  Beats: mike fiers, pedro martinez, whistleblowers

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Jeter’s Hall call near-unanimous; Walker elected

Derek Jeter barely missed unanimity. Larry Walker barely eluded agony. What matters most is that both men are now enjoying entry into baseball’s hallowed Hall.

The subjects of two very different versions of Hall of Fame voting drama, Jeter and Walker both had their names called Tuesday night on MLB Network’s presentation of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot results. All but one of the 397 BBWAA members who cast a vote had Jeter’s name checked off in his first year of eligibility, and just enough of those writers checked Walker’s name in his 10th and final year to push him above the 75-percent threshold.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2020 at 09:38 PM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, hall of fame

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-21-2020

Rock Island Argus, January 21, 1920:

Ice baseball, ice boxing. These sports are forcing hockey to take a back seat [in Cleveland.]

Ice baseball was launched several weeks ago and already has a large following. A league has been formed comprising six industrial teams.

It remained for ice boxing to prove the real thriller. The second of two initial contests, staged at Rockefeller park, with the contestants heavily dressed in sweaters, resulted in a knockout in the second round. Aside from having to dodge the blows, contestants experienced much trouble in keeping their feet when they missed a swing.

If you ever hit an inside-the-park bunt home run in RBI Baseball, the idea of ice baseball may seem vaguely familiar. Ice boxing is pretty much ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 21, 2020 at 09:55 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

MLB Source: Cubs ‘got fat and happy’ after World Series, culture must change

Fact: The 2019 Chicago Cubs wildly underachieved, finishing with an 84-78 record and finishing third in the NL’s Central division. Fact: The Chicago Cubs didn’t fail because they didn’t spend enough money. The Cubs were 2nd in all of baseball in payroll finishing behind only the Boston Red Sox. Both of those teams failed to make baseball’s postseason.

Fact: The Cubs front office has done a lousy job acquiring players since winning the 2016 World Series and they have done a poor job in developing quality, big league caliber pitching through their minor league system.

But, it is also a fact that former manager Joe Maddon allowed his comfort level with players interfere with how much he held them accountable and the result was a ...

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QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:47 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fat, underperformance

WATCH: Carpenter says lack of identity at plate is why he struggled; New focus to not pull the ball

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Matt Carpenter hit below .230, with fewer than 20 home runs and 50 RBI last year in what was his worst offensive year of his career. He told media at St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up that he feels like he hasn’t found his identity yet as a hitter.

So this offseason, he says he hasn’t tried to pull the ball at all and try to get back to the type of player he was when he came up. Like in 2013, when he led the league with 55 doubles.

“Sometimes it takes something like last year to figure out how did we get to this point,” Carpenter says. “I’ve had a lot of good conversations, I actually have hit with some former teammates and former players and have spent some time having some deep conversations about what I can ...

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QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:42 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: matt carpenter

Ex-M’s ace Félix Hernández has minor league deal with Braves

ATLANTA (AP) — Longtime Seattle Mariners ace Félix Hernández reached a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Monday that includes an invite to big league spring training.

The right-hander would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster.

Hernández, who turns 34 in April, is coming off his worst season in the majors. King Felix went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Mariners and lost his place in the rotation.

 

 

QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:38 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, felix hernandez

20 Big Questions About MLB’s Sign-Stealing Scandal

A sample question-and-answer:

3) Could Manfred suspend or ban players who used cameras, buzzers and other electronic devices?

Yes. Under Article XII of the collective bargaining agreement, Manfred has the authority to take appropriate disciplinary measures against players for conduct that is “materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of Baseball.” Cheating is unquestionably damaging to the best interest of Baseball. It undermines the integrity of games and could cost the league substantial revenue if fans are turned off.

Also, no one has a legal “right” to play in a private sports league, just as no one has a right to a job at a private employer. Being kicked out of a pro league is not, in and of ...

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QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: lawyers, sign-stealing

Nolan Arenado feels “disrespected” as Rockies GM Jeff Bridich nixes trade talks

On the same day Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich put the brakes on the Nolan Arenado trade rumors, the all-star third baseman broke his silence Monday saying he felt “disrespected.”

Bridich made it clear that Arenado will be with the Rockies when they open spring training next month in Scottsdale, Ariz. He also made it clear that, at least for now, trade talks are off the table.

“With the season coming up and spring training on the horizon, we are going to start focusing on that,” Bridich said. “We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it. We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected — with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman.

“So we can put this to bed and ...

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QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:21 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: feud, jeff bridich, nolan arenado, rockies

Monday, January 20, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-20-2020

Bridgeport Times, January 20, 1920:

Youth will arrive with a rush in professional baseball during the next two years. As the old stars sputter out, the new ones burst into being to carry on the spirit of the game.

Frank Frisch, of the Giants, and Waite Hoyt, of the Red Sox, both local fledglings, blaze the way for the incoming host of youthful headliners.
...
Not since Rogers Hornsby bloomed amid the Texas cactus and mellowed into stardom with the Cardinals has the National League welcomed such an exceptional young player as Frank Frisch…His advent at the Polo Grounds—he didn’t report till college closed—was the brightest feature of a disappointing campaign for the Giants. Frisch’s record is a story that needs no retelling now. It was the ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 20, 2020 at 10:15 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

J.D. Martinez says Red Sox are innocent. Now what?

SPRINGFIELD—The next shoe may not have officially dropped Saturday, but a toe was dipped into the water. For the first time, a member of the 2018 Red Sox flat-out said his team was innocent.

Up until J.D. Martinez stepped before the media at Winter Weekend there had been a series of coaches and players leaning on “it’s an ongoing investigation” when asked about Major League Baseball’s investigation into The Athletic’s report that the Red Sox had illegally used their video system to help relay sign sequences during games. But Martinez took things to another level.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, just so they can see there was nothing going on here,” Martinez said.

When pressed on if he believed no wrongdoing would be ...

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QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: bullshit, dirty rotten cheaters, j.d. martinez, red sox

Phillies pitching prospect Zach Warren has a dirty car but a bright future

Every one of the 15 minor-league prospects that the Phillies have invited to big-league spring training camp has a story.

Zach Warren’s is unique because (in his heart) he was a Phillie before he was technically a Phillie.

Warren grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, in the “glory era,” as he correctly called it, when the Phillies were racking up National League East titles, going to two World Series and winning one of them. Young Zach rooted for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but his eye always drifted toward the work being done by Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, not surprising because Warren was a left-handed pitcher on the rise in those days.

After successful runs at St. Augustine Prep in South Jersey and the University of ...

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QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:40 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: phillies, prospects, zach warren

Andy Green ‘fired up’ to be with Cubs, help David Ross any way he can

It’s quite fitting Andy Green’s introduction to Cubs Nation came at the team’s annual fan festival this weekend.

Green, whom the Cubs officially hired as bench coach in December, grew up a Reds fan in his native Lexington, Ky. It wasn’t long before his allegiances changed to one of Cincinnati’s geographic neighbors, however.

“I went to [former Reds ballpark Riverfront Stadium] as a kid at like 5, 6, 7, first time I saw big-league baseball,” Green told NBC Sports Chicago on Saturday. “But my mom took me up to Wrigley at 12 or 13. I was like ‘This is big-league baseball.’

“I switched over allegiances that time as a Cubs fan, watched Ryne Sandberg — Mark Grace was somebody who jumped off the page to me at that point ...

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QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:36 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: andy green, cubs, david ross

Astros superfan ‘Mattress Mack’ loses $2 million betting against Chiefs

It hasn’t been a great year for a certain Houston gambling enthusiast’s bank account.

Houston-area furniture chain owner Jim McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack,” lost nearly $12 million last year betting on the Astros to win the World Series, ostensibly as a way to hedge against a refund promotion for his stores. He had done the same thing in 2017, but it obviously worked out much worse last year.

McIngvale kicked off a new year of sports betting by turning his attention to a new sport, according to The Action Network. His bets: $1 million on the Houston Texans to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional round, then $1 million on the Tennessee Titans to beat those same Chiefs in the AFC championship game.

Yeah, ...

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QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:29 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, fans, gambling, winners and losers

Cardinals sign Matt Wieters to one-year, $2 million deal

Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals and free agent catcher Matt Wieters have agreed on a one-year, $2 million deal. Wieters can earn an additional $1 million through incentives.

 

QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:26 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: cardlinals, contracts, matt wieters

Royals, Alex Gordon “Getting Close” To Deal

For those curious about what else is going on in the baseball world:

The Royals are “getting close” to a one-year agreement with outfielder Alex Gordon, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. The financial details of said agreement are yet unknown. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Flanagan expects that an announcement might come in the next couple of days upon the completion of Gordon’s physical.

It’s long been expected that Gordon and the Royals would work out a deal to keep the 35-year-old in the organization with which he’s spent his entire career; Gordon has made it clear that he would opt for retirement if a return to Kansas City wasn’t possible. However, it looks as if the franchise icon will stick around for at ...

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QLE Posted: January 20, 2020 at 12:23 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, hot stove, royals

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Cubs Fans Boo Chairman Tom Ricketts at Team Convention

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts heard his share of boos at the Cubs Convention on Friday while the team remains quiet in free agency.

Coming off a season in which the Cubs fell short of the playoffs, Chicago has yet to add significant pieces or sign its core players to extensions. Former NL MVP Kris Bryant has been on the trade market throughout the offseason, beloved former manager Joe Maddon is gone and the team is no longer the favorite in the NL Central. There’s uncertainty in Wrigleyville for the first time since the Cubs returned to prominence in 2015, and the Convention’s usually positive atmosphere has soured.

“I’m sorry we don’t have a prize free agent or something sexier to talk about right now,” Ricketts said in an ...

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QLE Posted: January 19, 2020 at 12:36 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fans, tom ricketts

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

To view the matter in utterly cynical terms, ...

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QLE Posted: January 19, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, craig biggio, jeff bagwell, jim crane, lance berkman

Astros stars letting others take blame for player-driven sign-stealing scheme

When A.J. Hinch took a baseball bat to at least one of those television monitors, as one source said he did, maybe this was the day he had in mind.

This was the day he stood alone.

He’d been in the end overrun by his players and members of his own coaching staff and who knows who else, along with his own ambitiousness. That is his to bear.

The Houston Astros went dark one day. Hinch was the man on the top step. He stuck to the shadows like the rest of them, celebrated its bounty like the rest of them, surrendered when the lights came up and was punished for it.

So, what do we make of this line of analysis?

 

QLE Posted: January 19, 2020 at 12:27 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: a.j. hinch, astros, dirty rotten cheaters, players

Setting sights on spring training, Jose Altuve confident embattled Astros will ‘be in World Series’

HOUSTON—A week filled with fines, suspensions, firings and impromptu news conferences as a result of their sign-stealing scandal ended awkwardly in Houston on Saturday, with the Astros meeting and greeting fans and media at their annual winter festival.

Two of the team’s biggest stars—Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman—took center stage: one for his unfazed confidence, the other for his terse tone and tenor.

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve said the Astros will be in the World Series again, while pushing back on the idea that the team’s cheating went beyond the sign-stealing detailed in MLB’s report earlier this week.

“Believe me, in the end of the year, everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re going to be in the World Series again. People ...

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QLE Posted: January 19, 2020 at 12:21 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: alex bregman, famous last words, jose altuve, predictions

The ‘alternative’ 2019 Gold Glove Award winners

Rawlings handed out its 2019 Gold Glove Awards back in November, but, with Statcast’s new infield defense metric released to the public, the temptation is too great not to take a fresh look at the best defender at each position.

With that in mind, we decided to identify the best defender at every position based on their 2019 Outs Above Average (OAA). Unlike with Gold Gloves, we are awarding only one “winner” per position as opposed to a winner for each league. (Note: The exceptions are pitchers and catcher, where we don’t have OAA. For catcher, we used a blend of Statcast’s catcher framing metrics to pick that spot. We did not select a pitcher.)

Infield OAA works in similar style to the outfield OAA you’re likely familiar with, ...

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QLE Posted: January 19, 2020 at 12:11 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: awards and honors, gold gloves, statcast

Saturday, January 18, 2020

MLB Rumors: Here’s where investigation into 2018 Red Sox stands

For those curious as for the state of round 2:

Boston Red Sox fans may have to reserve judgment for quite some time.

Major League Baseball may take “a while” to determine punishment for the Red Sox as it continues to investigate the 2018 team, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons reported Friday morning.

Gammons added the league hasn’t even interviewed former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, whom the club parted ways with Tuesday.

MLB is investigating the Red Sox for allegedly using a video replay room to illegally relay signs to hitters during the 2018 regular season.

 

 

QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:31 AM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, red sox, shame and scandal

Could baseball’s sign-stealing scandal lead to a manager’s job for Ozzie Guillen?

Will baseball’s sign-stealing scandal have a silver lining for a South Side legend?

Three teams whose managers were caught up in the scandal are suddenly without skippers just a month away from the start of spring training: the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. The Astros’ practice of stealing signs and relaying them to players on the field during their championship season in 2017 led to the firings of A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, creating three high-profile job openings.

January managerial searches aren’t common, for obvious reasons, and while any or all of the teams in the market for a new manager could go about it as a regular search — potentially sticking with baseball’s trend of young, inexperienced ...

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QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:26 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: managerial search, ozzie guillen

Brian Dawkins schools Phillies prospects on how to handle boos

A group of Phillies prospects was in town this week for the organization’s annual prospects education seminar.

One of those lessons came from a legend.

Brian Dawkins, the most motivational athlete this city has ever seen, shared with the group his thoughts on playing in Philadelphia and responding to the passionate fan base.

“Playing in Philadelphia is different,” Dawkins said. “If you get on the field, there is a 99.99 percent chance you will be booed. The thing I always knew though was that you may boo me that one time but I’m not gonna make the same mistake again.”

Sometimes, the jokes write themselves…..

 

QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:21 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: brian dawkins, fans, phillies

“Hire ’Tek!”: Red Sox fans make pitch for Varitek as manager

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have a list of characteristics they want in their next manager, but they haven’t yet landed on a name.

Their fans have one in mind.

Three days after the Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora for his involvement in a cheating scandal, supporters pleaded for Boston’s front office to hire former catcher and team captain Jason Varitek at a town hall event Friday during the team’s winter festival.

Members of the team’s leadership group were hit with “Hire ’Tek!” chants throughout the night, and principal owner John Henry was interrupted several times by fans voicing their support. Henry paused and nodded in acknowledgement, and new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom used the opportunity ...

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QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:08 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, jason varitek, managerial search, red sox

Rockies to honor Larry Walker by retiring his jersey number

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Rockies will retire the jersey number of outfielder Larry Walker in a ceremony during the upcoming season.

The Rockies announced Friday they will honor Walker on April 19 when they play another one of Walker’s former teams, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Walker’s No. 33 will be displayed next to Todd Helton’s No. 17 in the right-field area inside Coors Field, alongside the initials “KSM” for the Rockies’ late president Keli McGregor.

“There is no bigger honor an organization can give a player than retiring his number,” Walker said. “I can’t tell you how taken aback I am by this gesture. I am both thrilled and honored and I look forward to seeing my number hanging next to the greatest Rockie of ...

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QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: larry walker, retired numbers

Analysis: Baseball has become a prisoner of technology

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology unleashed baseball’s Analytics Era, and now it’s holding the sport prisoner.

AJ Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán are casualties, a triple play of hubris. At the cutting edge with the Houston Astros, now they have been cut. Their sign-stealing system exposed, all three managers were deposed within a whirlwind 72 hours this week that raised questions about the prevalence of the sport’s rule breakers.

What’s next in a game grappling with innovation and plagued by paranoia?

Video rooms and dugouts are now monitored by Major League Baseball, like proctors pacing an exam room to stifle students’ temptation to cheat. Bench and bullpen telephones are monitored, Big Brother in the commissioner’s ...

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QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, sign-stealing, technology

Missouri man charged with impersonating former MLB pitcher Omar Olivares

Many baseball fans may not be too familiar with former journeyman MLB pitcher Omar Olivares. However, that didn’t stop a Missouri man from using Olivares’ identity to sell fake memorabilia from the right-hander, who spent 12 big league seasons with eight different teams..

Police in Manchester, Missouri—a St. Louis suburb—arrested a man who had apparently been posing as Olivares for financial gain.

The specifics from the allaged scams have not yet been released. The real Olivares retired from baseball in 2001, and has been living in Pennsylvania, where he learned of the impersonation.

On the one hand, seems utterly random- on the other hand, makes more sense than trying to pass yourself off as someone who is much more visible….

  ...Read More...

QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:52 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: omar olivares, scams

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray open to having dual NFL and MLB careers, but current contract forbids it

If you thought Kyler Murray had moved past baseball, you were mistaken. The first overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Murray was indeed forced to choose between the two sports after having excelled in both up to and throughout much of his collegiate career. A former outfielder for the University of Oklahoma, he served double duty in also being the team’s star quarterback.

Also a former infielder, Murray is the only player in the history of either sport to be selected to the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game and the Under Armour All-America Football Game.

He was selected by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft and signed a $4.66 million contract with the club, but wasn’t slated to report to spring training until 2019. Following ...

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QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:46 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dual-sport athletes, kyler murray

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