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Thursday's MLB trade deadline was one of the "more dizzying days in recent baseball history" and the type of day fans "relish, with one deal after another to debate," according to Tyler Kepner of the N.Y. TIMES. There were 12 deals involving 37 players completed before the 4:00pm ET deadline (N.Y. TIMES, 8/1). In Providence, Tim Britton writes Thursday's trade deadline was "about as big a whirlwind day" as MLB has seen in a long time (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 8/1). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes, "What a magnificent final lightning round of action baseball experienced Thursday in the final hours of the non-waiver trade deadline" (USA TODAY, 8/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes it was "one of the wildest days in recent baseball history" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/1). FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal: "Deadline Day was anything but a dud. No, it was a day that shook the industry" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/31). In Illinois, Mike Spellman: "Now that, my friends, was a trade deadline day" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 8/1). In N.Y., Andy Martino wrote, "That was freaking awesome." MLB was the day's "winner." Martino: "This is sexy stuff, Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes changing teams, David Price joining Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander on the Tigers, Twitter smoking hot all day long." America was "talking baseball." The "stodgy game needs to find more ways into the bloodstream" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 7/31).
STAR SEARCH: In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes in "arguably the wildest, most impactful trade deadline in history, what stood out was not only that two of the majors’ best starters -- Jon Lester and David Price -- were moved, but that significant major leaguers were dealt to make it happen." Players on the move included Cespedes, Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, John Lackey, Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson. This was "all a result of teams getting more creative and bolder." If prospects are "overvalued in this market, then proactive organizations will figure a way around this" (N.Y. POST, 8/1). MLB.com's Tim Healey noted there had "not been an All-Star-for-All-Star Deadline deal in at least the last decade and a half" prior to Thursday's deal involving Lester and Cespedes. The only offseason trade in that time "to include two All-Stars from the season prior came in January 2005, when Javier Vazquez was part of a package" the Yankees shipped to the D-Backs to acquire Randy Johnson (MLB.com, 7/31). MLB.com's Doug Miller writes Thursday was, "quite simply, an all-timer, a Deadline that blew the doors off baseball fans, players, executives, scouts and media members." MLB had a "throwback Thursday in which headline deals were orchestrated the old-fashioned way: my big league talent for your big league talent, with prospects watching from their wireless devices down on the farm" (MLB.com, 8/1). ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian asked, “How many deals have been made today that have been major leaguer for major leaguer? You know how rare that is? ... These are big leaguers being pulled off a major league field to go somewhere else. It’s great.” ESPN’s John Kruk: “This is fantasy baseball” (“Baseball Tonight: Trade Deadline Special,” ESPN, 7/31). Dodgers C A.J. Ellis said, "It was the kind of a day that showed a little bit of a shift in the thinking of general managers. Acquiring proven major-league talent is now becoming more of a commodity" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/1).
PLAYING MONEYBALL: In DC, Barry Svrluga notes the Red Sox trading Lester and Jonny Gomes for Cespedes "perfectly exemplifies where baseball is at the moment: In any given season, any franchise could be either buyer or seller." NFL-style parity "is upon us, and might be here to stay." MLB has "taken extraordinary measures to establish some sort of parity." Revenue sharing has "helped the teams in the smallest markets compete financially." The game is "extraordinarily healthy, with all 30 franchises making money." Twenty teams began Thursday either "sitting in a playoff spot or within six games of one." With the moves "flying, baseball had created hope in at least that many markets, and excitement throughout the sport" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1). SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote what we are seeing is that MLB has "become a general manager's game." The "power base of an organization has left the dugout and relocated to the front office." Five-year rebuilding plans "no longer apply." You "better be able to turn your club a dime." The "stars of the day" were A's GM Billy Beane, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and Tigers President, CEO & GM Dave Dombrowski (SI.com, 7/31).
Three U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Ravens and the NFL on Thursday "criticizing what they called 'plainly inadequate' punishment" for RB Ray Rice in the wake of his February domestic violence arrest, according to Fritze and Campbell of the Baltimore SUN. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) "implored the league and the Ravens to revisit their sanctions against Rice." The senators also called on the league to "create a program to deal with domestic violence in a way similar to its treatment of drug offenses by players." Blumenthal said Rice's punishment was "a mockery of what should have been done." Ravens Senior VP/Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne said the team is "aware of the letter." NFL Senior VP/Communications Greg Aiello said of the letter, "We look forward to responding." Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also "criticized the punishment late Thursday" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1).
STARTS AT THE TOP: CBS Sports Radio's John Feinstein wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "will have to come out of hiding this weekend in Canton" during the Pro Football HOF induction events. Maybe, "given a week to think about how badly he dropped the ball, Goodell will at least announce that the NFL plans to do more to educate players and spouses about domestic violence and will spend some of its billions of dollars on working to help those who have been abused." Feinstein: "That won’t wipe out the mistake Goodell made on the Rice ruling but it would be a step in the right direction" (RADIO.CBSSPORTS.com, 7/31). In Illinois, Barry Rozner writes, "Tone deaf doesn't do justice to describing the inability of the NFL, the Ravens, Rice and -- most of all" -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who said the franchise appreciated the attention, to "understand that NFL players beating up women is a horrific, life-changing event that is all too prevalent in their league." The "lasting impression that Roger Goodell and Co. leave is that they really aren't concerned, Harbaugh least of all" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 8/1). ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley wrote under the header, "Five Questions For Roger Goodell" (ESPN.com, 7/31). ESPN’s J.A. Adande said, “We still need to hear from Roger Goodell. He still needs to face the media and explain why he felt a two-game suspension was sufficient for his actions when clearly the public and the NFL fans don’t feel the same way” (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 7/31). ESPN’s Cari Champion: “I have heard enough from Ray Rice. I would like to hear what Roger Goodell has to say” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 8/1).
SAYING SORRY: ESPN.com's Hensley wrote Rice, who on Thursday spoke publicly for the first time in two months, showed that he "finally understood the weight of his actions," in "stark contrast" to his news conference in May. Rice in his Thursday apology "delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes." Rice was "compelling in his contrition." But before anyone "pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time." His 17-minute news conference Thursday "hit the right tones," but Rice's "biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator." Hensley: "The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation" (ESPN.com, 7/31). In Baltimore, Mike Preston writes it is now time to "let the healing process begin." Preston: "I had already moved on." But the NFL and the Ravens' PR crew in recent weeks had "unintentionally made Rice public enemy No. 1." The "old Rice surfaced Thursday" during his news conference. He was "humble." Preston: "Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you come back up again. ... Now, the Ravens just need to be quiet" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1). However, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann said, “Rice displayed absolutely no credibility. He made the classic, the worst (and) the most self-destructive mistake. The one made by nearly all public figures whose reputations do not survive after they do bad things. He never said what happened." Olbermann: "(He) said time after time after time that he would, ‘Own it.’ But he never described ‘it.’ To own it, you have to say what it is. This is called an allocution." Olbermann added, "It is in the law that when you plead guilty to something, a plea deal, you have to recount what it is you did -- an excruciating, sometimes painful detail in court, on the record so everybody knows. … He needed to go detail-by-detail what happened in the elevator, ugly as it might have been, reflecting on him poorly if it did, or on his wife. Even if he mistakenly believed it could hurt him legally” (“Olbermann,” ESPN2, 7/31).
REPUTATION REPAIR? ESPNW's Sarah Spain wrote Rice's statements Thursday "seemed genuine and contrite." Instead of "continuing to use softer, more benign terms like 'incident' or 'situation,' Rice finally called it what it was" by referencing "domestic violence." It was "an indication that he's willing to finally own his actions." Rice has a chance going forward to "make this incident a piece of his story, and not the headline" (ESPNW.com, 7/31). In Miami, David Neal writes Rice "occasionally came off as self-centered," but "seemed seriously ashamed of the actions toward his wife" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/1). USA Today's Maggie Hendricks said, “He said all the right things and I think he has all the right thoughts. My biggest concern is him following through on this. If he does follow through, it can really do some great things” (“Today,” NBC, 8/1). In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec writes Rice's reputation around the NFL and in Baltimore, where he was "considered one of the city's most charitable and popular sports figures, has taken a major hit." Though Rice has "been cheered during training camp practices, plenty of other fans have thrown away his jersey and vowed not to root for him again." N.Y.-based 5W Public Relations Senior VP & Head of Crisis Communications Juda Engelmayer said, "People won't forget about it. People will keep it in the back of their minds. If he missteps again, it will have grave repercussions" (Baltimore SUN, 8/1). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce, on Rice's apology: “I'm buying it. I really am. I don't think that one verbal apology makes up for everything that you did, but I am glad that he addressed the public the way he did. I saw emotion. I saw sentiment from him. I felt like he really meant it. I want to see his actions speak louder than his words, though” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 7/31). ESPN’s Champion said, Rice in his press conference "went on to say that he and his wife will be part of a campaign to stop domestic abuse, but first they need to work on themselves. They need counseling because they can't fix anyone else unless they fix themselves." Champion: "I thought that was huge when he made that statement. … I thought that he went through everything he thought people were comfortable with (in) that very first press conference they had. He took ownership. For me, I thought there was validation there” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 8/1).