Athletics

Bruce Maxwell's arrest on gun charge undercuts his social activism efforts

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Scottsdale PD

Bruce Maxwell's arrest on gun charge undercuts his social activism efforts

Time will tell what the future holds for Bruce Maxwell’s baseball career after the A’s catcher was arrested Saturday night for allegedly pointing a gun at someone.

But there’s a subplot to this ugly incident: It seemingly damages Maxwell’s credibility as an activist for social justice and racial equality, which thrust him into the national spotlight in the first place.

More details are coming out about his arrest Saturday night in Scottsdale, when Maxwell was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct.

ABC15 Arizona released details from court documents of events, and they paint a troubling picture. Police say Maxwell, 26, opened the door to his home and pointed a handgun at the head of a female driver who was delivering him food. Maxwell reportedly lowered the gun as the driver gave him the food, and the driver then called the police after returning to her car.

Officers showed up to Maxwell’s residence, and, according to court documents, they detected alcohol on his breath. He allegedly began yelling, using profanity and making anti-police statements during the arrest.

According to the court documents, Maxwell admitted having a gun on him. He also admitted to un-holstering the gun but then later denied that, and he also denied ever pointing a gun at the driver. Though Maxwell told police he had canceled the food order, the restaurant from which he ordered reportedly had no record of him doing so.

Maxwell was held in custody at Maricopa County jail but released on $10,000 bail. His next court appearance is Nov. 6.

This turn of events unleashed a harsh Twitter response against Maxwell, which could have been predicted.

Maxwell took the bold step in September of becoming the first Major League player to kneel during the national anthem, joining many NFL players who have done the same thing in protest of what they view as ongoing racial inequality in the United States.

Many applauded Maxwell’s gesture on social media, but many also condemned it.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, the conviction and clarity with which Maxwell explained and defended himself was impressive. It was the rationale of someone who had put deep thought into the decision to kneel.

But when a professional athlete takes such a highly visible (and polarizing) stance, in the court of public opinion, it leaves them little margin for error regarding their own missteps. And Maxwell’s misstep Saturday was a doozy. It threatens to undo so much of the good he’s sought to accomplish on various fronts.

To many, it won’t matter that he spends much of his free time during spring training working as a volunteer coach with Mountain Pointe High School’s baseball program in Phoenix. It won’t matter that he spent time in Santa Rosa earlier this month visiting people affected by the devastating North Bay fires.

He now faces felony criminal charges should his case move forward, and there’s no sugarcoating that. It also doesn’t help that Maxwell recently was involved in a bizarre story coming out of Alabama.

He told TMZ Sports that he and two friends, one of them a local councilman, were denied service at a Huntsville restaurant by a server who was pro-Trump and disapproved of Maxwell’s decision to kneel. The restaurant manager and the server later issued strong denials and a different version of how events played out.

Who knows which side is telling the truth from that episode? But that’s exactly the point. It has to be tough, even for Maxwell’s supporters, to decide what to believe regarding his situation right now. And that deals quite a blow to Maxwell’s earnest efforts to make a difference in the political and social climate of our country.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.