Baseball's free agents can breathe a little freer today, following Thursday's announcement that a settlement had been reached between the owners and players involving alleged collusion against free agents following the last two seasons.
Terms of the settlement include: Eligible players no longer having to file for free agency, but automatically becoming free agents when their contracts expire; the period for teams to negotiate with their free-agent-eligible players cut from 15 days to five days; and the deadline for clubs to offer salary arbitration to their players who became free agents and to offer contracts for the following season to players on their 40-man rosters moved up. The best one: Teams, players, and agents will be restricted in their ability to conduct free-agent negotiations in the media.
Hopefully this means no LeBron James-type Big Decision waste-o-time TV shows for the baseball world.
It's our guess that the Pittsburgh Pirates like appearing in High&Inside. How else to explain the mind-boggling firing Thursday of Matt Walbeck, manager of the Pirates' double-A affiliate, the Eastern League Altoona Curve?
Walbeck's crime? Maybe it was being named EL manager of the year. Nah, he has won manager-of-the-year honors in four of the last six seasons, so it couldn't be that. Or maybe it's the fact he guided the Curve to the Eastern League championship this season. Can't start raising unreasonable expectations in the dwindling fan base.
Walbeck, 40, was told there was no other job for him in the organization. He wants to manage above double A.
And therein may lie the real reason he was let go: The Bucs have no higher level of play than double A.