The Rundown: Negotiations Stall Again, MLB Celebrates Juneteenth, Ed Howard Talks Social Injustice, Griffey Jr. Gets Weekend Spotlight

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.” – Martin Luther King

How are you enjoying baseball’s labor standoff and the roller coaster ride it’s been? Everytime it looks like the season is about to get underway, something goes horribly awry. Then, when it looks like all hope is lost, there are hints that something might be worked out to end the madness.

From what I can deduce by perusing my Twitter feed, and by keeping up with EIC Evan Altman through his Cubs Insider updates, the two sides continue to move closer to an agreement. Time is a real factor, though, and progress is best measured in baby steps. It seems like the owners are trying to extend negotiations so that only a 50-game schedule is feasible. This week’s conversations between the two sides can be summarized as follows:

It would seem that the path to a resolution is nearing an end, but that difference in 10 regular season games, something that will cost owners approximately $300 million, is the latest sticking point. I’m not going to do the math on that, but it seems that it equates to nothing more than a stipend of sorts. That’s probably barely sufficient to make things a little more bearable for players while the league navigates its season, trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In the meantime, we are just six weeks from the trade deadline, and I’m starting to wonder if some teams may make moves once (or if) the season resumes. Were it a normal season, we’d be starting to talk about possible trade candidates. The Cubs have a few players whose contracts expire this fall, including Jon Lester (the team carries a $25 million option on Lester with a $10 million buyout), Tyler Chatwood, José Quintana, Steve Souza Jr., and Jason Kipnis.

With expanded rosters, it will probably be difficult for most teams to move expiring contracts. That means it may be impossible for the Cubs to get beneath the competitive balance tax threshold, making it difficult to pursue free agents this winter, if not completely out of the question. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer face a tall task between now and next March, whether baseball is played this summer or not.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

Good manners don’t cost anything, do they? Check your social media feed and see if you could use a personality tune up ahead of the weekend. No charge for that bit of advice. I’m guilty at times, too.

Odds & Sods

Finding relevant baseball topics to write about is truly a grind these days. Apparently Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is very fluent in F-bombs.

MLB News & Notes

In celebration of Juneteenth today, Major League Baseball and its clubs will turn their focus to commemorating the day with activities aimed to continue conversations surrounding social justice and awareness.

Only 7.7% of players on 2019 Opening Day rosters were African-Americans, something baseball must effort to change.

MLB Network will air a special on Ken Griffey Jr. this Sunday night entitled Junior, and with excellent timing, since the former Seattle outfielder was little more than an afterthought in ESPN’s Long Gone Summer. Junior’s relationship with his father will be a great compliment to all the dads celebrating their day on Sunday.

Basketball great LeBron James called Griffey Jr. the GOAT, and says the slugger made baseball fun after the 1994-95 work stoppage, even more than Sosa or Mark McGwire.

Griffey said his trademark backward cap “is who he is,” and he recently defied a country club recommendation to “keep forward.”

Sosa and McGwire gave baseball fans front row seats to a show most will never forget.

Albert Pujols is paying the salaries of furloughed Angels employees who live in the Dominican Republic.

The league has asked for the right to sell ads on team jerseys.

Out of Left Field

Pontificating sports announcer Bob Costas says that players and owners are “myopic” in dispute. I bet he couldn’t wait to use that word.

Extra Innings

There is more than one independence day in this country. Observe politely and reverently.

Sliding Into Home

There’s nothing better than listening to one of your favorite albums as night gets pushed aside by morning. When I was a teenager, I used to listen to my favorite FM station in Chicago all Saturday night long, usually commercial-free album sides, until my favorite songs were replaced by 30-minute PSA forums like Takin’ it to the Streets, oddball radio by Dr. Demento, and various gospel radio shows come Sunday mornings.

If you’ve ever wondered about all the mysterious conversations that linger in the background of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, I stumbled across a great blog site called DS40 that is dedicated solely to the recording of the iconic album. Roger Waters was looking for “spontaneous” words and phrases to add a natural human touch to the recordings. Turns out the band used flashcards to stimulate the conversation that was included in the final mix. Contrary to popular belief, conversations with Paul McCartney are not included in any of the tracks.

“Do you think you were in the right?”

“I certainly was in the right!”

They Said It

  • “Fans should be excited, players should be excited, that baseball is on its way back. Any time that Tony [Clark] and Rob [Manfred] sit down face to face, it’s a good thing. We’re getting closer for sure. {But], having it reported as a done deal was definitely not accurate.” – Ian Happ
  • “I’m big on not only being a great player on the field, but I’m also big on being a great person off the field. My parents are real into that. They push me to be my best self at all times. I’ll definitely be a role model. I’ll definitely do things the right way all the time. I’m excited to get over there to the North Side.” – Ed Howard
  • “[Howard] is one of the most mature high school players we’ve ever [met.]” – Theo Epstein
  • “I wear my hat backwards because my dad had a ‘fro and I wanted to wear his hat. If I put his hat on at age six, and he’s got an eight and a half (hat size) and I got like a little five, it’s not really gonna stay on my head. So I just turned it around because I just wanted to wear my dad’s hat.” – Ken Griffey, Jr.

Friday Walk Up Song

Money by Pink Floyd – A difference of $300 million dollars for an industry that is worth $10 billion or more annually? Why does it have to be so freaking hard is it to get this done?

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