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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Stories by Grey Papke:

Trevor Bauer crushes Astros in 10-minute diatribe

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer had been publicly suspicious of the Houston Astros for years prior to MLB’s investigation into the team’s sign-stealing operation. Now Bauer knows he was very much onto something, and isn’t afraid to talk about it.

The Cincinnati Reds pitcher was asked about the Astros on Friday and offered a nearly 10-minute answer, with numerous highlights. He was particularly aggrieved that Astros players, notably Alex Bregman, ripped into Bauer for insinuating that Houston was somehow cheating.

“I try not to interfere or interject myself into anyone else’s affairs, but if you come at me, I feel like I have every right to defend myself,” Bauer said, via C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic. “Now they’ve chosen to make it about me and attack my character, I’m not going to let them forget the fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they’ve stolen from a lot of other people and the game itself was completely unfair. They’ve negatively affected the fans, they’ve negatively affected players, they’ve negatively affected kids and the future of baseball – which is what I’m most upset about. Now all the things they do really well as an organization are going to get completely washed away and forgotten about so the next generation of kids gets set back five or 10 years on the analytics, training and health and all the different stuff they do really well.

“Whit Merrifield was not an All-Star because Jose Altuve was. Aaron Judge did not win the MVP because Jose Altuve did and things like this. So now Whit Merrifield, when he goes to sign his long-term extension, doesn’t have ‘All-Star’ next to his name. ‘All-Star’ probably makes him a lot more valuable in arbitration which perhaps makes him not sign that deal or maybe sign the deal for that many more million dollars. Aaron Judge doesn’t have MVP next to his name. What is he worth in his first year of arbitration? That’s millions of dollars.”

Bauer did much more. He called out Justin Verlander and A.J. Hinch for hypocrisy, ripped Astros players for consistently lying about their involvement, said he had been told by three sources that the Astros were involved in more than has been reported, and reaffirmed his belief that commissioner Rob Manfred is “a joke” for various reasons. The comments are well worth a read in their entirety.

However, Bauer saved some of his harshest words for Astros owner Jim Crane, who said Thursday that he did not think the team’s sign-stealing impacted the game.

“‘We don’t think it affected the game.’ You’re either lying or you’re a f—ing idiot. And you don’t become a billionaire owner of a team by being a f—ing idiot. So, you’re lying,” Bauer said. “I don’t know. How can you not think that affected the game when you know what pitches, that’s just so ridiculous. That take, that quote, then basically the entire thing was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry we got caught.’ Not like, ‘Hey, we did this.'”

You should read the entire thing if you haven’t yet.

Bauer has been vocally suspicious of the Astros since some suspicious activity during the 2018 ALDS, and he has never really let up since. It turns out he was right — and is right to be mad as well.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Nolan Arenado explains tension with Rockies

Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies have had a difficult offseason, and according to the third baseman, it simply comes down to wanting to contend.

Arenado said Friday that he wants to contend for championships consistently and make the playoffs, stating that he only has so many chances of making an impact in October.

“You know what, and I want you please to write this down, the perception of me right now, some people have different things, right?” Arenado told Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. “It’s, ‘Oh, you make money, keep your mouth shut. You signed this deal and this and that.’ But, at the end of the day, man, people misunderstand. Us, as players, we only get one chance at this. I only get one chance at this. I have seven years left on my deal. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. And I want to win.

“It gets to a point in your career, you’re like, ‘OK, what else is there to do? I just want to win. I want to play in October.’ … I’ve only been to the playoffs a few times. Honestly, I haven’t played well in it. And I want that again. I want to have that opportunity to, like, show what I can do. You know?”

Arenado said he wanted to win “in Colorado or somewhere else” and that there was a “disconnect” with the organization, but he had no intention of allowing it to impact his performance or his relationship with his teammates.

“To be honest with you, there is a disconnect right now, right?” Arenado said. “There’s a little bit of a disconnect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. It doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna go out there and play hard for my teammates. Or be a negative presence in that locker room. That’s just not me. It’s not how I’m going to do things. I’m not going to be there trying to show them I don’t want to be there. I’m not going to be that way. That’s not fair. That’s drawing attention to me.”

Arenado was the subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason, and admitted there was “disrespect” from the organization. He signed a 7-year, $260 million deal with the team prior to 2019, only to see the team lose 91 games and not make any major moves ahead of 2020. Arenado does not want to waste his prime playing for a team that isn’t pushing to contend, which seems to be at the root of all this, but it doesn’t sound like the Rockies will be granting him a trade anytime soon.

Nationals console Yankees with amazing Valentine’s Day tweet

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are reveling in the fact that they managed to beat the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series, and they’re having some fun with it on social media.

The Nationals sent a Valentine’s Day note to the New York Yankees, the team that lost the 2017 ALCS to the sign-stealing Astros team, in a bid to make them feel a little bit better about things.

It’s a cute message, but don’t expect the Yankees to feel better. The rest of baseball won’t either. There’s a huge degree of animosity toward the Astros, which probably only makes the Nationals feel more proud that they managed to overcome Houston and win the World Series in 2019.

Tony Kemp says he refused to join Astros’ sign stealing

Tony Kemp

One member of the 2017 Houston Astros claims to have refused to take part in the team’s sign stealing system.

Tony Kemp, who was briefly an outfielder on the 2017 team, said Friday he refused the opportunity to take part in the scheme when it was offered to him upon being called up in September.

“That stood,” Kemp said, via Janie McAuley of the Associated Press. “Once I got there in September, the system was already in place, and I just tried to keep my head down and play hard and not really concern myself with it.”

Kemp, now with the Oakland Athletics, said he never felt any further pressure to partake in the scheme once he said no to it.

The ongoing line from Astros players has been that they wished they’d done more to stop it, but Kemp is the first to say he openly refused to take part. Kemp probably couldn’t have done more — he was a September call-up walking into a playoff-bound team with a well-established system.

Kemp played in just 17 games for those Astros, hitting .216. He did not appear in any postseason games in 2017.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Ross Stripling was prepared to throw at Astros players over sign stealing

Ross Stripling

One interesting storyline for 2020 will be how many pitchers take justice into their own hands by throwing at Houston Astros players over their systemic sign-stealing.

That question is one that Ross Stripling grappled with. Stripling was supposed to be involved in a trade to the Los Angeles Angels, where he was highly likely to face the division rival Astros at some point during the season. The trade ultimately fell through, but not before Stripling had time to wrestle with the question of whether he’d do so, and he ultimately determined that he would if the circumstances made sense.

If Stripling is thinking it, so are many other pitchers, and we could see a significant amount of this once the regular season starts. Another Dodgers pitcher, Alex Wood, was asked on Friday about the possibility of pitchers plunking Astros hitters this season. Wood said he wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

There is a sense among players that the Astros got away with what they did because MLB did not punish any players. Stripling and Wood may well have missed out on a World Series ring because of what the Astros were doing in 2017, so they have some added incentive to be angry, too.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Derrick Rose open to returning to Bulls

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose remains beloved by Chicago Bulls fans, and it sounds like the feeling may still be mutual.

Rose did not close the door on returning to Chicago, the city where he was born and started his NBA career, after his current contract expires at the end of the season.

It’s a general answer but it’s something. Rose was a member of the Bulls until 2016, by which point a series of knee injuries had robbed him of his prime. As surprising as the trade was to him at the time, he seems to have moved on. There’s no indication at this point that the Bulls are preparing to bring him back, but it’s an intriguing possibility.

Rose has been good for the Detroit Pistons this season in what has primarily been a reserve role, averaging 18.2 points and 5.8 assists per game.

Report: Alex Rodriguez interested in buying Mets

Alex Rodriguez

A surprise name has emerged in potential bidding for the New York Mets.

According to Thornton McEnery of the New York Post, Alex Rodriguez is “kicking the tires” on a possible bid for the Mets. Rodriguez was a childhood Mets fan who has gotten into business since his retirement.

“[Rodriguez] genuinely loves the Mets,” said source told the Post. “He and J-Lo have talked about him buying a team ever since Jeter got the Marlins.”

Any bid may be a longshot. The Mets may cost in the neighborhood of $3 billion, which likely means Rodriguez would have to partner with wealthy investors as part of an ownership group.

Regardless of how serious the possibility is, this would be quite the story. Jeter and Rodriguez would be NL East owners together, and it probably would give the Mets some added credibility. A-Rod has certainly dabbled in business since retirement, but this would be an entirely new level.

Report: Tony Romo bidding surpasses $15 million

Tony Romo CBS

Tony Romo’s first contract to broadcast NFL games for CBS paid him $3 million a year. He’ll be making a lot more than that going forward.

According to Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage, bidding for Romo between ESPN and CBS has already surpassed $15 million per year and may approach $20 million before negotiations conclude. This figure would make Romo the highest-paid sports announcer in American history.

Both networks are trying to send a message by signing Romo. ESPN wants to retain its “Monday Night Football” package with better games and get into the Super Bowl rotation. CBS wants to keep Romo, show that they’re committed to the NFL, and does not want to be tasked with finding a new commentator to work next year’s Super Bowl.

CBS has the right to match any offer made to Romo.

We had previously heard that Romo could get between $10 million and $14 million. If this reporting is correct, he has already surpassed that and may well come close to doubling the initial low-end estimate, which is what he originally sought.

The only question is how high the two networks are willing to go before one concedes defeat.