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ADD CUBAN PLAYERS TO TRUMP’S BANNED LIST

By Murray Chass

April 14, 2019

The recent intersection of Major League Baseball and the White House suggests that there was nothing Barack Obama did in two terms as president that is safe from Donald Trump’s destruction. If Obama did it, Trump is determined to undo it.

Trump reached into baseball last week for his latest “get-Obama” act. He quashed an agreement the United States had reached during the Obama administration with the Cuban Baseball Federation to allow Cuban players to sign contracts to play in this country without having to defect.

A lawyer friend who follows baseball closely disagreed that Trump’s act was another one aimed at Obama, his presidential predecessor, whom Trump sophomorically belittles at seemingly every opportunity.

The lawyer said he heard an interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he was asked if the Cuban baseball move was intended to put pressure on Cuba to influence that country’s stance on troubled Venezuela. Pompeo, the lawyer said, answered yes.

In addition, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has been quoted as saying the Trump administration didn’t want the Cuban government to be able to use the players as “pawns” in its support of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

On the other hand, within days after the agreement last December, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged the president to block the deal and there was a growing movement in South Florida, home of many Cubans, to overturn it.

Trump’s decision came just days after the Cuban federation identified 34 players who were eligible to sign with United States teams. Under the agreement, the Cuban government would have received a percentage of a player’s signing bonus.

The last time Trump was involved in baseball was in 1994 …

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THE MONEY’S NOT COMING IN

By Murray Chass

April 7, 2019

During the winter the Philadelphia Phillies, fed up with their series of losing seasons, pursued the two most attractive free agents in the market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. They didn’t want to sign either or; they wanted the outfielder and the infielder.

Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees’ superstar shortstop, who is on his way to the Hall of Fame, turned entrepreneur and contributed a tiny share to a wealthy investor who paid an astounding $1.2 billion for the heck-of-a-wreck Miami Marlins. It was many millions more than the seller, Jeffrey Loria, could ever have imagined.

In the past couple of years, the N.F.L. Carolina Panthers and the N.B.A. Houston Rockets each sold for $2.2 billion, and the 49 percent share of the N.B.A. Brooklyn Nets that was sold valued the team at $2.3 billion.

The Jeter group was willing to overpay for the Marlins …

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A GOOD MAN GONE

By Murray Chass

March 31, 2019

He was always Noble. I don’t know why. His wife always called him Marty; my wife called him Marty. But I don’t believe I ever called him Marty. I don’t know why. Even when mentioning him to another reporter, he was Noble. Moss Klein was Moss. Dan Castellano was Dan or Danny. But Noble was Noble.

The name didn’t matter. What was important was the respect I had for the man and his work. I respected no writer more than I respected Noble, and there are few I respected as much.

Noble died March 24 at the age of 70. That’s not old these days, but heart attacks don’t ask one’s age. He was in Florida when he died, not for work – he was retired – but for the pleasure of seeing some members of the Mets’ organization he had covered and seeing our friend, Danny, who moved to Florida a few years ago.

We were competitors, but more importantly we were friends. Our work never intruded on our friendship, even though it easily could have. We were close enough and I had enough respect for Noble that a few weeks ago I invited him to write a column for this web site. It turned out to be one of the best ideas I have ever had and one of which I am proudest …

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