Athletics

A's reliever Liam Hendriks stands up against cyberbullying on social media

A's reliever Liam Hendriks stands up against cyberbullying on social media

OAKLAND -- A few weeks ago, after a rare poor outing, A's reliever Liam Hendriks did something he hardly ever does. He went on social media and checked his mentions.
 
As he expected, the comments weren't pretty -- everything from generic insults and taunts to wishes for injury, ill will toward his family, and even death threats. Hendriks chose to share a couple of these messages on his Instagram story in order to make a point.
 
"I stayed off social media for years," he said. "This is the first year I've had social media. That was by choice and for a reason because of the cyberbullying that goes on. It's something that affects everybody, not just kids at school."
 
That's something Hendriks wants to make clear, especially for the many children who are victims of bullying.
 
"I want them to know that they're not alone, that this doesn't just happen to them," he explained. "No matter who you are, you're going to get those people who are out there just to hate. ... It's an issue that affects everybody, especially with how much kids are on social media these days."
 
This year, Hendriks and his wife Kristi decided to fight back against cyberbullying, an issue that has affected both of them personally. Kristi runs an online clothing store and has faced harassment, particularly when people find out who she is.
 
"We've wanted to do something," Hendriks said. "We've always spoken out against cyberbullying, but I think this year was one where we really decided to focus on it. It's something that has affected both my wife and me, and we decided to take a stand against it and do what we can to try to prevent the cause."
 
Hendriks has teamed up with Major League Baseball's Shred Hate campaign, which seeks to "eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness." ESPN and X Games are also involved with Shred Hate.
 
"MLB's mission with Shred Hate is huge because it shows kids that all of these athletes are behind you," Hendriks said. "They get the same thing. It doesn't matter what someone says online. It just matters who you are."
 
Last year, Kristi and Liam Hendriks participated in Canada's Pink Shirt Day, which aimed to get Canadians to stand up against bullying. Hendriks even got several of his A's teammates to join him.
 
Hendriks says he and his wife would like to be even more active in the community moving forward. They hope to speak at schools about cyberbullying.
 
"That's definitely our plan, to try to speak to groups and just go over the fact that they're not alone. If they need an ear, just shoot me a message." 

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

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Oakland A's

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

The A's have publicly said they plan to open a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal ahead of the 2023 season.

Those plans could be delayed.

An A's spokesperson admitted to The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Thursday that the team "might have to push back" their targeted opening date. Ostler wrote that "growing political and logistical hurdles," "[coronavirus]-related delays" and a recent federal court ruling could endanger the 2023 target, as could a recent federal court ruling. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Oakland's ban on transporting coal through the city in a two-to-one ruling Tuesday. The Sierra Club told Bay Area News Group that there are plans to file another appeal, as they and community leaders have argued that coal dust would add to West Oakland's polluted air. Howard Terminal, which already requires environmental certification before the A's can ever begin construction, is fewer than two miles downwind from the site where Utah coal companies planned to transport coal prior to the city's now-struck-down ban.

[RELATED: Why Braden vehemently opposes MLB's proposal to players]

A's owner John Fisher, who Forbes currently estimates has a net worth of $2.1 billion, announced in a letter to fans Tuesday that the team would cease paying minor leaguers a weekly $400 stipend starting in June and that the team had "implemented a significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members who are not furloughed."

The A's previously said in a statement to NBC Sports California earlier this month that they deferred their annual $1.25 million rent payment for use of the Oakland Coliseum because the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" during the coronavirus pandemic. Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, told Bay Area News Group that the A's told the stadium authority they "had no ability to pay."

Why Dallas Braden vehemently opposes MLB's latest proposal to players

Why Dallas Braden vehemently opposes MLB's latest proposal to players

All major professional sports leagues face three main hurdles in returning during the coronavirus pandemic. 

How to manage everyone's safety, how to modify the game rules, and how to allocate money between the players and the league.

It’s that third part which remains MLB’s final, yet biggest challenge to clear.

“It’s almost like you’re at the top of the hill,” NBC Sports California A's broadcaster and former pitcher Dallas Braden said Wednesday. “It’s like we’re right there. We can see it, and it’s a matter of trying to figure out how everybody is going to be able to walk away from this okay in their minds.”

Players have widely opposed the latest proposal from the MLB, which essentially is a second wave of pay cuts for a 2020 season. But this time, the percentage of reduction greatly increases with the player's total salary.

As ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, MLB proposed that a $563,500 salary would turn into $262,000 for 2020. Meanwhile, a player signed for $30M would be reduced to $6.95M.

“When you start hand-selecting employees, you are absolutely going to be creating a divide," Braden said. "And it’s because you’re now telling these two sides, who are on the same side, that they are separate.”

The MLB Players Association is expected to counter MLB's proposal by the end of the week, Passan reported later Wednesday night, citing sources. Passan reported that the players are expected to propose a plan that includes more than 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries for the 2020 season

Braden says players have earned their present position of leverage from their years of hard work before they were ever promised an opportunity in Major League Baseball.

“What that person is doing is saying ‘You know what, boss man’,” Braden said. “I’m not going to take that 70 percent haircut you’re offering me right now. Because I’ve been working a swing-shift. I’ve been doing graveyard, double-time. I’ve been saving up so when something like this happens, thankfully I’m not in a position to have to take that 70 percent haircut.”

But players at the major league level aren't the only ones being impacted. Minor leaguers are suffering as well, as the chances of a minor-league season taking place appear slimmer and slimmer. 

No season would likely mean little-to-no compensation for thousands of players, many of whom were already financially constrained.

“Minor leagues are littered with two-bedroom apartments, stacked with eight to ten guys high,” Braden said. “Three in a room, figuring it out. Just figuring it out.”

As for rules and game format changes, Braden believes players will make the best of difficult adaptations. He also believes the A’s will perform as expected, no matter what their schedule looks like.

“I’ve always thought we were an extremely attractive ballclub. Nothing keeping us away from making a push towards that division.”

[RELATED: Why A's should break protocol, sign Semien for the long haul]

Unfortunately at this juncture, Braden is pessimistic about the possibility of MLB and its players finding common ground.

“I hate to say it, but, I think I’ll be seeing you next year, before I see you this year.”