Massachusetts Sizing Up The Table For Legalized Sports Betting

Back in the fold?

Massachusetts has gone all in on two new casinos over the past three years, but its progress on legalizing sports betting? Well, let’s just say it had seemingly folded until last month. The Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies had reviewed five sports betting proposals, including one from State Governor Charlie Baker. Ultimately however, the joint committee opted to create its own proposal, which it advanced forward in hopes that House Ways & Means Committee (HWMC) would approve the bill for final vote from the state legislature.

As 17 other states had already passed active legal sports betting bills, much like the current group of Boston Celtics, Massachusetts was hoping for #18. Yet now, the probability that Jayson Tatum helps raise a banner for the C’s this year seems about as low as the chance of legally betting on the possibility — in Massachusetts at least. The dispersion of large parts of government due to coronavirus has brought the process to a sudden halt. Typically, when a bill is advanced to the HWMC, the next step is to educate the legislative members on the bill’s details before a vote. However, the Massachusetts Legislature has yet to debate the proposal and justifiably has its attention turned for the foreseeable future in dealing with the coronavirus.

High-Low

While many were rightfully convinced that Massachusetts would introduce legalized sports betting as early as this summer, the sudden turn of events has likely postponed any legalized sports betting until 2021. Disappointing as that may be, the major professional sporting organizations are still suspended indefinitely with no clear timetable on when they might come back. However, early returns on the details of the proposed bill indicate that there is good reason for optimism.

Charlie Baker and his aforementioned proposal excluded the ability to gamble on college sports, the likes of which (mostly college basketball and football) account for a vast majority of the handle. Nevertheless, the joint committee elected to allow betting on collegiate games though it restricted placement of all bets to Division I contests, based on concerns of match-fixing at lower levels.

While the joint committee’s bill does gives more freedom as to where you prefer to best lose your money place your wager, it also established some of its own prohibitions. Amateur sports, eSports, fantasy sports and the Olympics are all off the table as far as legal betting goes in Massachusetts, but these conditions are fairly in-line with most other states. Only Nevada and New Jersey allow eSports betting and a select few allow Olympics betting.

Divvying-Up The Pot

So, who exactly has the winning hand at the table? Well, the proposed bill would authorize legal sports betting for Massachusetts’ three casinos, horse racing tracks, and five independent operators that would allow online wagers only. One of those operators certainly figures to be Draftkings, which is headquartered in Boston.

On the government side, Massachusetts will collect 10% in taxes from in-person sportsbooks (casinos & tracks) and 12% from the online operators. The joint committee estimates that legalized sports betting could inject as much as $20 million annually in revenue. In 2019, New Jersey reaped $36 million in revenue from the $300 million total that legalized sports betting generated overall. But who knows, if Massachusetts bettors only gamble on Boston sports teams, given their recent successes, it may force a reconsideration of whether or not the house really always wins.

Pricey Pandemic Insurance Policy Sets Wimbledon Up For $141 Million Payout

While the rest of the sports world is sustaining huge losses, one organization is well positioned to navigate through the global recession. The AELTC (All English Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club) is the association responsible for hosting and operating the prestigious Wimbledon Championships that were set to take place this June. And while COVID-19 is causing most leagues to scramble to find any salvageable solutions, Wimbledon has had the “luxury” of simply cancelling the tournament, and recouping $141 million in the process.

Despite the fact that Wimbledon was projected to generate more than $300 million in revenue this year, the roughly $150 million loss they will see as a result of the pandemic pales in comparison to those of other major leagues and events. Forbes estimated that the NCAA will see damages of $1 billion, the NBA – $1.2 billion, and the MLB (whose season had not yet even started) – as much as $2 billion. These numbers are all based around an assumption that the leagues will resume sometime over the summer, but given the uncertainty it is possible — even likely — that the true figures will be much higher.

So, how exactly did Wimbledon “ace” its handling of the coronavirus chaos? The story reportedly traces back to 2003, the year in which SARS rattled the world and brought pandemic preparedness to the forefront of international dialogue. Though SARS didn’t uproot the sports world like COVID-19 is doing now, the AELTC understood the potential of a global spread and updated its insurance policy to cover an infectious disease clause. That amendment didn’t come cheap however; it cost the AELTC a whopping $2 million per year to protect its premier event from what most others considered a once-in-a-lifetime fluke that wouldn’t repeat itself.

Until it did.

17 years and $34 million later, AELTC is seeing the worst case scenario (in the sports world, at least) unfold, but its directors can rest easy knowing Wimbledon is covered and well-poised for a 2021 return. The policy is exactly why AELTC didn’t need to postpone or reschedule Wimbledon, in fact, the London-based club reportedly had to cancel by a certain date in order to recoup the insurance premium.

Meanwhile, other leagues and major events are trying to brainstorm any possibility to soften the financial blow each one is facing. Even if the NBA returns late in the summer and skips straight to playoffs, or the MLB’s “quarantine league” comes to fruition, these events will undoubtedly be held without crowds and the leagues will still suffer substantially this year. So, a question many are likely wondering is: why didn’t these organizations have any protections on their events like the AELTC did with Wimbledon? The short answer is that they actually did, just to a limited extent.

Most contracts include force majeure clauses, which excuses certain contractual obligations due to a “superior force”. These forces consist of circumstances that are largely out of both parties’ control such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism or say, a global pandemic like the novel coronavirus. However, while sporting organizations can invoke the force majeure clause, the primary benefit in doing so would derive from these organizations’ ability to withhold pay for missed games.

Accordingly, this contract language (if enforced) only really protects these companies from the costs to their thousands of employees, rather than safeguarding them from losses to the revenue, highlighting the true value of AELTC’s insurance. However, at this point, the money these leagues could save by invoking force majeure is far outweighed by the revenue that any semblance of a season would drive, even if it means fan-less events. The reality is, if leagues are going to see any sort of monetary light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel, the government will likely be the one shining it.

In a summary published by lawyers from White & Case, they believe that governments will be willing to provide financial support to prop up the sports industry as it looks to restart itself. Given both the economic and social impact of sports, the government has a vested interest in doing so, however the report warns to expect some form of lengthy litigation in leagues’ pursuit of federal compensation. In any event, whatever kickback AELTC receives down the line will be icing on Wimbledon’s well-insured cake.

COVID-19’s Impact on Sports Broadcasting and Salaries

It’s been just over two weeks since the last live broadcast of a professional sporting event and the effects are rippling through the world of sports business. COVID-19’s arrival and subsequent spread across the United States prompted the suspensions of the NBA’s, NHL’s and XFL’s seasons, as well as the delay to the start of the MLB season and countless other disruptions throughout sports. Much like almost every other area of the U.S. economy, sports have taken an enormous hit and while fans and organizations alike are eager to see their favorite athletes return to competition, it is uncertain as to when they will be able to safely, and lucratively, do so.

Between the timing of COVID-19’s lockdown on U.S. sporting events and the ambiguous 2-to-6 month timeframe medical experts are forecasting for a full recovery, each league has tailored its own plan in response to sudden halt of play. Below is a quick summary of just a few of the major sporting organizations’ financial and/or scheduling proposals.

NBA: After announcing that players would receive full salaries on the April 1st due date, the NBA announced earlier this week that it would be reducing the pay of 100 of the leagues’ highest-paid executives by 20% for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the league has extended its credit limit to $1.2 billion for added flexibility in covering its coming expenses. While there is no set plan on when play for the current season will resume, league commissioner Adam Silver has insisted that regardless of timeline, the league would prefer to salvage some portion of the season and crown a champion for the 2019-2020 season. Among the avalanche of proposals of how to “save the season,” Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, recommended permanently pushing back the start date of the NBA season to December and concluding with the NBA Finals in late summer, given the current season would optimistically end in August or September. Moreover, Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted out an interesting idea in which the NBA season would resume with a March-Madness style tournament involving all 30 teams.

MLB: The MLB reported this week that it had reached an agreement with the MLBPA on a loose framework of financial and scheduling logistics regarding the upcoming season. Perhaps the most shocking news was the revelation that IF the season is cancelled, players would receive the same amount of service time they received the season prior. This means that players with a year remaining on their contract, such as recently-acquired outfielder Mookie Betts, will hit free agency in 2021 without ever playing a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers who traded valuable assets for his services this year. Also, in the event that the season is cancelled, the MLB made it clear that players would not be able to sue for full salaries, however all players will be receiving a $170 million advance over the next two months. Despite these insurance measures, Commissioner Rob Manfred is hopeful that the MLB resumes play this summer, while he acknowledges that a full 162-game season is likely off the table. The reported contingency plan includes 1) beginning the season once there are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans, 2) no travel restrictions, 3) medical experts determine that games will not pose a risk to the health of teams and fans. Moreover, if/when play resumes, the MLB noted that doubleheaders, a 14-team playoff format, and a neutral, warm-weather location for a November/December World Series are all in serious consideration.

NHL: While the NBA and MLB have quickly pivoted to rescuing their seasons, the NHL has not matched their optimism nor their speed in announcing contingency options. The league has not yet united around a financial agenda, yet both the Dallas Stars President and General Manager have taken voluntary 50% pay cuts. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens announced layoffs as their own responses. While many see the cancellation of the rest of the season as the most realistic scenario, others have proposed a timeline similar to that of the NBA with the season picking back up in July/August and ending in August/September. Most notably, star players Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby said that they would be “OK” with skipping straight to the playoffs if and when the season is able to resume, however they acknowledged the question of fair play and keeping the integrity of the sport.

XFL: I really feel for the XFL here. Riding a strong start in its inaugural season, the decision to not only suspend but cancel its remainder must have been decisively more difficult than those of other sporting leagues. The XFL was exactly at the midway point of its season having played through five weeks of its ten week schedule (excluding a two-week playoff in April). Though the eight-team football league had been dealing with declining ratings following its initial excitement, it immediately committed to paying its players’ full salaries and returning refunds or credit to its ticket holders. The XFL also announced that it will be back for a 2021 season and has great reason to do so. Ten former XFL players have already signed contracts with NFL teams for the upcoming season with more likely to follow in the coming days.

MLS: Major League Soccer was in the midst of only the second week of its season when it made the decision to postpone its season for 30 days. As updates of the spread across the U.S. have come in, the Commissioner Don Garber pushed the deadline back to May 10th, but will likely have to do so again under the current climate. Garber, however, is adamant that when soccer returns, the MLS will play a full season’s worth of games even if it means extending the calendar of the season. While there has not been an unanimous response to salary fulfillment across the MLS, one team came under scrutiny for sending an email to its game day staff suggesting they file for unemployment while naming corporate partners who might be hiring.

BIG3…?: I was hesitant to include the Big3 in this rundown of major sporting organizations, however its response to the coronavirus crisis may just elevate its status to that of the leagues listed above. For those who are not familiar with the Big3, it is a 3-on-3 basketball league composed of former NBA and college players such as Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson. The games are played half-court style with rule oddities that differentiate it from the NBA such as the addition of a 4-point shot and first team to score 60 points as the winner. As for the coronavirus’ impact on the BIG3, originally games were supposed to be played around the country in Memphis, New York and more. However, BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube announced yesterday that the organization will be partnering with the producers of reality TV show “Big Brother” in efforts to air a basketball tournament-reality TV show hybrid to fill the significant void in the sports world. It was reported that the tournament will feature 16-22 players, who be previously tested for COVID-19 and if selected, will be quarantined in a house together for the duration of the season with anyone who breaks quarantine being kicked from the house. It was also reported that some of those selected may even in former top women’s basketball players.

The idea is that the three-person teams would shuffle teams each round and once an individual player accumulates three losses they would be eliminated from contention. Then, the final three players would win cash prizes with the top prize being at least seven figures. The goal is to air the tournament starting in May and given the current sport’s climate, or lack thereof, the BIG3 will surely see a large opportunity to scoop up hungry sports fans across the country craving any form of live competition. There is no word yet on whether or not these fans will be able to bet on these contests, however given the nationwide craving to slowly restart the economy, it wouldn’t a surprise to see Las Vegas announce the lines once the details of the BIG3’s proposal are ironed out. In any event, every other aforementioned league is looking at June start/resume dates in their most optimistic scenarios, so at the very least the BIG3 has at least a month to show us all what it has to offer, and hopefully hold us sports fans over until our favorite teams are back in action.

El impacto de COVID-19 en la transmisión y los salarios de los deportes

Ha sido poco más de dos semanas desde la última transmisión en vivo de un profesional evento deportivo y los efectos están ondeando por el mundo de los negocios de los deportes. La llegada de COVID-19 y su difusión subsiguiente sobre los Estados Unidos provocaron las suspensiones de las temporadas del NBA, NHL y XFL, y tanto la demora del comienzo de la temporada del MLB como otras interrupciones a través de los deportes. Como casi cada otra área de la economía estadounidense, los deportes han sufrido un golpe enorme. Mientras que ambos los fanáticos y las organizaciones quieren ver a sus atletas favoritos regresar a jugar, es incierto cuándo ellos estarán capaz de hacerlo seguramente y lucrativamente.

Entre el momento de la llegada de COVID-19 y el periodo de tiempo de 2 a 6 meses que los expertos médicos están prediciendo para una recuperación completa, cada liga ha creado su propio plan en respuesta a la parada inesperada de los juegos. Aquí abajo está un resumen breve de las propuestas financieras y/o de programación de  las organizaciones deportivas más grandes.

NBA: Después de anunciar que los jugadores recibirían sus salarios enteros en la fecha límite del 1 de abril, el NBA anunció esta semana que reducirá los salarios de cien de los ejecutivos más bien pagados por 20% para la duración del crisis de coronavirus. Además, la liga ha extendido su límite de crédito hasta $1.2 mil millones para la flexibilidad de cubrir los gastos venideros. Mientras que no hay un plan fijo de cuándo los partidos para la temporada corriente reanudarán, el comisionado de la liga, Adam Silver, ha insistido que en cualquier caso la liga preferiría rescatar una porción de la temporada y coronar un campeón. Entre la avalancha de propuestas de “cómo rescatar la temporada,” el presidente de los Hawks de Atlanta, Steve Koonin, recomendó empujar el comienzo de la temporada siguiente hasta el diciembre para siempre y concluir los finales muy tarde en el verano como agosto o septiembre. Dado que para cuando regrese la temporada corriente estaremos en junio o julio, este periodo de tiempo tiene sentido. Además, el base de los Nets de Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie twitteó una idea interesante en que la temporada reanudaría en un estilo March-Madness como un torneo involucrando todo los 30 equipos.

MLB: Esta semana el MLB informó el público que ha llegado a un acuerdo con el MLBPA para establecer un armazón para las logísticas financieras y de la programación con relación a la temporada inminente. Tal vez la noticia más sorprendente era que SI la temporada de verdad está cancelada, los jugadores recibirían la misma cantidad de tiempo de servicio que recibieron el año anterior. Entonces, significa que jugadores con un contrato que le queda solo uno año, como el nuevo jardinero de los Dodgers de Los Ángeles, Mookie Betts,  llegarán al mercado libre en 2021 sin jugar ni un partido para ese equipo. También, en caso de que la temporada esté cancelada, el MLB quedó claro que los jugadores no pueden demandar a la liga para sus salarios completos, sin embargo todos los jugadores recibirán un adelanto de $170 millones para los dos meses que vienen. A pesar de estas medidas de seguro, el comisionado Rob Manfred tiene ganas de que el MLB reanuda la temporada este verano, pero reconoció que una temporada completa de 162 partidos probablamente no será considerado. El alternativo plan declarado incluye 1) comenzar la temporada cuando no hay prohibiciones para jugar partidos frente los fans, 2) no hay prohibiciones de viajar, 3) los expertos médicos determinan que los partidos no ponen en riesgo la salud de ni los equipos ni los fans. Además, si/cuando el juego reanuda, el MLB reconoció que doble-juegos, un formato de 14 equipos para la postemporada, y una neutra ubicación de clima cálido para un World Series en noviembre/diciembre serán considerados.

NHL: Mientras que el NBA y MLB han cambiado el foco hasta rescatar las temporadas muy rápidamente, el NHL no ha igualado ni sus optimismos ni sus velocidades de anunciar un plan de emergencia. Todavía la liga no ha unificado en un plan financiero, sin embargo tanto el presidente como el gerente general de los Stars de Dallas han cortado sus salarios por 50%. Mientras, los Bruins de Boston y los Canadiens de Montreal anunciaron unos despidos como sus propias respuestas. Mientras que muchos consideran la cancelación de la temporada como el escenario más razonable, otras han propuesto un periodo de tiempo parecido a el del NBA: la temporada reanudaría en julio/agosto y terminaría en agosto/septiembre. De modo interesante, las estrellas de la liga, Alex Ovechkin y Sidney Crosby, dijeron que serían “OK” saltar hasta la postemporada si y cuando juego regrese.

XFL: Lamento la situación del XFL. Después de un comienzo fuerte en su temporada inaugural, la decisión de no solo suspender la temporada, sino cancelarla tenía que ser difícil. El XFL estaba al medio camino: semana 5 de su temporada de 10 semanas de fútbol americano. Aunque la liga de ocho equipos había estado luchando contra índices de la audiencia faltando, el XFL anunció de inmediato que pagará los salarios completos de sus jugadores y devolverá crédito a las personas con boletos. El XFL también anunció que regresará para otra temporada en 2021 y tiene mucha razón hacerlo. Diez ex-jugadores del XFL han firmado contratos con equipos del NFL para la temporada que viene y otros lo harán esto en los días siguientes.

MLS: La liga profesional de fútbol estaba en solamente su segunda semana de su temporada cuando hizo la decisión de suspenderla para 30 días. Ahora que hay más información de la difusión de COVID-10, el comisionado Don Garber empujó la fecha límite hasta el 10 de mayo, pero de verdad probablamente tendrá que hacerlo de nuevo dado el clima. Sin embargo, Garber es firme que cuando regrese el fútbol, el MLS jugará la cantidad de partidos de una temporada entera aun si signifique extender el calendario. Mientras que no haya estado una respuesta unánime a la cuestión de los salarios, un equipo se convirtió en blanco de las críticas cuando mandó un corre electrónico a su personal sugiriendo que pidan los beneficios de paro mientras nombrar socios empresariales que tal vez están contratando.

BIG3…?: Dudaba incluir el BIG3 en este resumen de las organizaciones deportivas más grandes, sin embargo su respuesta al crisis de coronavirus tal vez elevará su estatus a los de las ligas ya mencionadas. Para los que no conocen el BIG 3, es una liga de baloncesto de estilo 3 contra 3 compuesto de jugadores ex-NBA y universitarios como Amar’e Stoudemire y Joe Johnson. Se juegan los partidos en estilo mitad-pista con diferencias que el baloncesto tradicional como un tiro que vale 4 puntos y el ganador declarado cuando el primer equipo anota 60 puntos. Originalmente, la cuarta temporada del BIG3 estuvo presupuesto jugar sus partidos en Memphis, New York y más. Sin embargo, co-fundador Ice Cube anunció ayer que la organización estará asociándose con los productores del reality show “Big Brother” en un esfuerzo de llenar el agujero grandísimo en el mundo de los deportes. Según una fuente, el formato será un torneo de 16 a 22 jugadores, quienes estarán probados para COVID-19. Si se selecta, todos estarán en cuarentena en una casa grande y para cualquier persona quien rompe la cuarentena, estarán expulsados.

La idea es que los equipos de tres personas cambiarían cada ronda y cuando un jugador individual pierda tres veces, estará eliminado del torneo. Entonces, los tres jugadores finales ganarían los premios de efectivo y el premio más grande será por lo menos $1 millón. La meta es transmitir el torneo empezando el mayo y dado la falta de deportes transmitidos en vivo, el BIG3 definitivamente verá una oportunidad grande de reclutar a unos fans nuevos. No hay palabra todavía si o no estos fans serán capaz de apostar en estos partidos, sin embargo dado las ganas de todo el país de reiniciar la economía, no sería una sorpresa si Las Vegas publiquen líneas de apuesta. En cualquier caso, cada liga ya mencionada está mirando hasta junio para comenzar/reanudar sus temporadas en los escenarios más positivos, entonces por lo menos el BIG3 tendrá un mes para mostrarnos lo que tiene para ofrecer y con suerte, aplacar a nosotros fans de los deportes hasta que nuestros equipos favoritos regresen.

Ex-MLB Pitcher files lawsuit against Astros over Sign-Stealing Scandal

Spring is here and baseball is finally returning from what has been a tedious offseason for just about everyone involved. Of course, at the heart of the frustration lies the now-infamous sign-stealing scandal that undoubtedly gave the Houston Astros a disproportionate competitive advantage en route to their 2017 World Series championship. However, while fans, players and front office execs alike are all justifiably upset with the Astros’ cheating, one former pitcher has particularly good reason to not only be frustrated with the ex-champions, but also take them to court.

On August 4th, 2017, Mike Bolsinger of the Toronto Blue Jays entered the game in the 4th inning to relieve as they were trailing the Astros 7-2. With a runner on and two outs, Bolsinger’s outcomes are as follows: walk, three-run home run, double, walk, single, walk, warning-track fly out. As a result of the horrendous outing, his ERA ballooned from 5.49 to 6.31 (league average was 4.36 that year) while his WHIP went from 1.66 to 1.81 (avg. was 1.33) and the Blue Jays promptly designated him for assignment after what would prove to be his final game in the big leagues since.

Given his stats —and if we’re being honest the eye-test too— it is clear Bolsinger certainly was never a Cy Young candidate by any means, yet the degree to which he gets teed-off seems oddly high. You can watch the entire appearance here, but the MLB’s investigation confirms part of what we see unfold in the clip: the Houston batters knew what pitches would be delivered before they were even thrown and allegedly used the trash-can-banging system on 12 of the 29 pitches Bolsinger threw. So, the question becomes, “If the Astros had not stolen signs, would the results of Bolsinger’s appearance be different in a way that would have ‘saved’ his job?”

The official way in which this civil suit is being framed is whether or not the Astros  engaged in unfair business practices and negligence via a “duplicitous and tortious scheme of sign-stealing.” Though initially filed toward the Astros organization on February 10th, the original grievance contained Doe defendants, essentially defendants to-be-named later, which reportedly likely include Astros Owner Jim Crane.

The significance of his involvement in this lawsuit stems from Commissioner Rob Manfred’s summary of Crane’s role in the scandal. Manfred wrote, “Jim Crane was unaware of any of the violations of MLB rules by his club,” plainly exonerating him. However, after the year-long suspensions and subsequent firings of general manager Jeff Lunhow and manager A.J. Hinch, Crane is the last man standing among a splintered front office and has been able to keep himself isolated from any sanctions. While it remains to be seen how directly the lawsuit aims to implicate Crane, it is possible that more details about his understanding —or lack thereof— of the cheating are made public which would inevitably drag out the controversy even further.

Odds are that the lawsuit will never reach trial, however if it did how would it play out? The only thing close to a baseball crime of this magnitude traces back to 1919 when eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the World Series in exchange for a share of the profits from a gambling syndicate. So, while there isn’t a true precedent, a couple factors will outline the way the case proceeds.

First, grievances dealing with a player’s salary are covered by a labor law preemption, meaning that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLB and MLBPA will govern any bargain between the feuding parties. To that end, the Astros can appeal the court to dismiss the lawsuit so that Bolsinger must arbitrate. There are several considerations that follow and make this aspect of the proceeding much more complex, however SportsIllustrated has covered these nuances in depth here for those who want to go a step further.

More interesting, however, is the question of whether or not the “Astros game” truly caused the derailing of Bolsinger’s career. As his aforementioned stats show, 2017 was already shaping up to be a make-or-break season for the 6’1″ righty as he was carrying a mediocre 6.83 ERA from the year prior into his first (and only) season with the Blue Jays. Yet, despite forfeiting 21 earned runs in just 27.2 innings in that 2016 season, 2015 provided a lot of hope for Bolsinger’s future in the league when he started 21 games, tossing 109 innings to the tune of a cool 3.62 ERA.

So, did Bolsinger, a 10th-round pick who never cracked any top-prospect lists, truly have a potential future that was unfairly derailed by Houston’s cheating? Or was his 2015 season just a fluke and his departure from the big leagues always inevitable? The most challenging aspect of all of this is that this outing against the Astros proved to be his final appearance in the MLB, so it is easy to hypothesize the “what ifs” that could have changed the course of history. Yet, I’m inclined to think that Bolsinger’s career would have been effectively over regardless of how bad a bashing the Astros gave him on that August 4th game.

Between his uninspiring rise from prospect obscurity to what seemed to be a failed starter-turned-reliever experiment, Bolsinger had the profile of someone destined to be in the MLB just for a cup of coffee while teams try to figure out if he has the “it” needed to stay. Toronto took a flier on him and despite returning to Triple A and posting an electric 1.70 ERA over 47.2 innings, its clear that the Blue Jays and the rest of the league were ready to move on from him.

These considerations are why this lawsuit figures to be so complex and monumental. Bolsinger’s attorney, Ben Meiselas of LA-based Geragos & Geragos, has a steep case to make, but successfully represented Colin Kaepernick in his collusion grievance against the NFL. The ramifications of any settlement that may be reached are far-reaching traveling all the way up to the office of the Astros owner and could prompt more players to follow suit (no pun intended). In any case, the dark cloud of Houston’s sign stealing scandal that looms over baseball won’t be going away any time soon.

Noticias de la demanda de Arturo Vidal contra F.C. Barcelona

Ha habido mucho que hablar de Barcelona F.C. en los días recientes. Entre el despido del ex-entrenador, Ernesto Valverde, el desempeño tambaleante del equipo hasta este punto de la temporada, y los rumores de los candidatos para rellenar las vacantes dejadas de los delanteros heridos Luis Suarez y Ousmane Demebele, no hay ninguna falta de titulares de seguir. Sin embargo, uno de los más interesantes sino menos mencionados se centra en el mediocampista veterano, Arturo Vidal.

El chileno está en su segunda temporada con el club catalana después de firmar un contrato de tres años y €18 millones en 2018. El contrato también incluyo unas primas que aumentaría el total por 3 milliones de euros, la mayoría de lo cual por incentivos de tiempo de juego. Pero, Vidal dice que el conjunto azulgrana le debe un supuesto bono de €2.4 millones. Por eso, sus abogados presentaron una demanda ante el sindicato de futbolistas de España (AFE) al final del año pasado.

Según el diario Sport, hay unas cláusulas en el contrato, entres las cuales una que hubiera dado un bono si Vidal jugara un mínimo del 60% de los partidos. Sin embargo, dado que Vidal no logró este reto, el club es cauteloso de aceptar las pretensiones del jugador porque sentaría un mal precedente de lo que otros jugadores se aprovecharían. Pero, parte de las quejas de Vidal es que su falta de lograr ese bono fue debido a que era víctima de una reducción de tiempo de jugar. Por eso, el caso probablemente llegará al litigio.

Este titular, sumado a los demás que han definido la temporada de Barcelona, parecía que más dañaría a un equipo tan frágil como este grupo corriente que todavía está luchando contra Real Madrid por la primera posición en la clasificación. Mientras que cosas han sido inestables, la situación de Vidal no ha causado mucho alboroto. De hecho, antes su despido, Valverde proclamó a los medios que la demanda no afectará el estatus de Vidal. Además, el nuevo entrenador del club catalana, Quique Setién, pareció respaldar las palabras de Valverde dado que Vidal empezó solo su quinto partido de la temporada esta semana pasada.

La importancia de todo esto es que las otras primas en el contrato de Vidal depende de si o no él juegue. Por su parte, el chileno ha revelado que si no juega más, va a exigir que el club le cambie. Por supuesto, como estamos en la temporada de traslados, había rumores de que Barca podía cambiar a Vidal para mejorar otra posición. Sin embargo, la decisión de Sentién de comenzar el partido con Vidal puede indicar que el club prefiere retener los servicios del mediocampista. Si esto es caso de verdad, queda por ver.