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Mike Rizzo wins Executive of the Year award, might be having the best five weeks ever

Mike Rizzo wins Executive of the Year award, might be having the best five weeks ever

Nationals' president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo was named Baseball America's Executive of the Year on Tuesday, an exceptional accomplishment. It was the 57-year-old's first time winning the award.

But compared to the past five weeks, this accomplishment seems to take a back seat.

Over the past month and some change, Rizzo's Nationals won the World Series, had a championship parade and visited the White House just days after. Following the World Series, Rizzo got married in Jamaica.

When he spoke with reporters prior to the unveiling of the Nationals' World Series documentary on Tuesday, he said: "I've been drunk for about a month."

But he's well-deserving of this award for his orchestration of the Nationals roster in 2019.

Rizzo made significant moves during the 2018 offseason that ultimately resulted in a World Series title. He let prized free agent Bryce Harper sign elsewhere, emphasizing starting pitching by handing starter Patrick Corbin a six-year, $140 million deal. Corbin played a significant role down the stretch as the Nats won their first title.

He also deserves credit for trading for reliever Daniel Hudson at the deadline, as the former Diamondbacks set-up man became Washington's de-facto closer and most important arm in the bullpen during the title run.

Since he took over as general manager in 2007, the Nationals have won 938 games with a .527 winning percentage. Since 2012, the first year the Nationals made the playoffs, only the Dodgers have a better regular-season record.

Personnel wise, Washington pushed all the right buttons in 2019, and this award recognized that.


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Nationals' Sean Doolittle makes statement on death of George Floyd

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Nationals' Sean Doolittle makes statement on death of George Floyd

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle released a statement on Twitter on the death of George Floyd. 

Floyd, a black man, died in police custody after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for several minutes. His death has sparked civil unrest in Minneapolis, MN and in several other areas across the country.

Doolittle's screengrab text read: 

Racism is America's Original Sin. It was here before we even forged a nation, and has been pased down from generation to generation. And we still struggle to acknowledge that it even exists, much less atone for it. The generational trauma of racism and violence is killing black men and women before our eyes. We are told it is done in the name of, "law and order", but there is nothing lawful nor orderly about these murders.

My heart is heavy knowing that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others should still be alive. We must not look away from the racism and the violence. We must never condone racism or extrajudicial violence in the name of "law and order." We must take action and call it out for what it is. We must recognize our shared humanity and atone for our Original Sin or else we will continue to curse future generations with it. RIP George Floyd. 

Earlier this week Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was among several athletes that tweeted about Floyd's death.

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Max Scherzer continues to try to steer the union on a united front

Max Scherzer continues to try to steer the union on a united front

Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer have been examples A and B of what the union does not want to do during tenuous negotiations with Major League Baseball.

Public sentiment will not leak over to the players. They are the relatable ones, the ones fans scream at and for, the ones who have their jerseys or baseball cards bought. They are the emotional bond to the game. Not the owners. They’re a pack of men behind the curtain.

Which is why Snell and Bauer operating on their own runs counter to the union’s better interests -- and focus. A focus largely headed by the measured comments of Max Scherzer, or other prominent union representatives like St. Louis’ Andrew Miller.

Snell kicked off the what-not-to-do examples when he said the short-sighted and ill-informed, if accurate, “I gotta get my money” two weeks ago. That notion fed right into the perspective of player greed and the owners virtually high-fived. They stretched their inherent public relations lead thanks to Snell’s misstep.

Bauer made his inappropriate contribution where measured response goes to dies: Twitter. Bauer tweeted, “Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true -- and at this point, these are only rumors -- I have one thing to say...Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”

The rumors were true according to an Associated Press report. Boras sent a memo to his clients -- three of whom, including Scherzer, are on the MLBPA’s eight-player executive subcommittee -- which advised them not to “bail out” the owners. Boras argued the owners made bad financial decisions outside of baseball and the players’ salaries should not be a path to financial recuperation.

So, yes, Boras -- the sports’ most powerful agent -- is giving his clients his opinion of how to proceed. This is neither surprising nor unbecoming conduct. He negotiates for billions of dollars on an annual basis and does much of it while bending public perception. He’s more someone to listen to in these scenarios than tune out.


Bauer’s desire to keep another agent out of union business is not a sin unto itself. His agent, Rachel Luba, is not part of the process. It’s understandable he wants to curtail other agents.

However, deciding to blast a tweet about it left other union members shaking their heads. And it’s in direct contrast to the approach Scherzer and others on the sub-committee have taken.

Scherzer’s late-night tweet was a measured, considered strike, in keeping with his general approach to public statements. Union work is second only to his primary function -- make all his starts -- when he views his job. He wants to relay specific points at specific times following forethought and consideration of the ripple effects. Basically the opposite of Bauer.

Look back to what Scherzer said about negotiations between the players and league in late March when they came together for an initial deal. Think about the points he makes here to NBC Sports Washington and how Bauer’s tweet undermines the priorities.

“All the players were very well connected,” Scherzer said then. “For having such a significant issue -- I don’t think baseball has ever been shut down, so we were navigating a situation that was constantly changing every 24 hours as we were trying to understand what was going to happen. And, we were trying to understand what we wanted in a deal.

“I got to commend the rest of the players in the league and the other players in the executive committee for everybody stepping up, being connected and sharing a voice. Trying to get as educated as possible to communicate it to the whole 1,200-player group. Try to get everybody’s desires of what they wanted in the deal, done. I thought we really acted extremely well together with our union leadership of coming up with what our wants were and working together as one to be able to get that done.”

This, again, is a key concept for the players. They need to be bonded in private, and even more so in public, which is why consistent messaging matters. Scherzer is among the cat herders here. No owner will be speaking out of turn. The players would be well-served to join them.

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