Kyler Murray Chooses Football
I had never heard of Kyler Murray before last week. I don’t follow college football and only have a passing knowledge of MLB prospects. I know a few but mostly Blue Jays prospects so I can tweet out their names in all caps.
And then this happened:
It wouldn’t merit a Twitter announcement under normal circumstances. This kid just won the prestigious Heisman Trophy playing quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Murray threw for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the 2018 regular season. Of course he’d enter the NFL draft.
The twist in the story is that Murray was drafted 9th overall in the 2018 MLB draft by the Oakland A’s and took a $4.67 million signing bonus. He was expected to report to Spring Training in 2019 after playing his last year of college football. The A’s own his pro-sports rights. In deciding to enter the NFL draft and depending on where he is in the draft, Murray would forfeit his big MLB cheque.
In my mind, this is insane. It’s not just because I vastly prefer baseball to football, but baseball also comes with certain perks including guaranteed contracts at the MLB level and a reduced likelihood of a devastating brain injury.
There is also the cash bonus. Maybe it’s because I will likely never see that kind of money for any of my talents, but this is a sticking point for me. Even if Murray tears his ACL tomorrow and can never play any professional sport ever again, he’d still have made more than four million dollars on his athletic talent. Having that kind of nest egg at 21, especially without the burden of student debt, is something I would have trouble giving up.
Also, Kyler Murray is listed at 5’11” and 194 lbs. That’s not exactly small, but it’s also not exactly big. And looking at him, he looks not 5’11”. (I’m about 5'11”. I’ve learned to size men up pretty well.) He might be, but it’s still not huge. How is that going to play in the NFL? Size is less of an issue in MLB. One can even make a clothing line based on the lack of it.
Morgan Campbell, for his Sports Prism series in the Toronto Star, wrote about wider implications of how NCAA markets football and basketball players, creating stars before the player even turns pro.
Campbell points out that while Mike Trout is probably the best player in baseball right now, his Q-rating (the measurement of familiarity the public has with a brand, a product, a celebrity, etc) is about where a journey man NBA player is. Robert Manfred put the blame at Trout’s feet for that last summer, but I’m wondering now if it’s not that Trout is that much less interesting than whatever NFL or NBA player but that the Trouts of baseball haven’t benefited from the NCAA star-making machines that benefit the NBA and NFL brands.
Murray, Campbell argues, weighed the dangers of football with his potential NFL payday and decided the earning potential was worth it.
Murray’s choice speaks to the wider issue of Black American athletes choosing football over baseball. Jackie Robinson crossing the colour bar in 1947 is one of the most celebrated events in MLB, but only 68 African Americans (8.6%) were on Opening Day rosters in 2018, which is six more at the same time in 2017. Baseball is largely made up of white kids from the wealthier American suburbs and foreign labour from Latin America. It doesn’t help that colleges don’t offer full scholarships for baseball like they do for basketball and football. If you have talent in football and baseball, and you can’t afford to go to school without a full ride, you are going to play football.
It’s crazy to think that that is the issue, as poor kids in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela play baseball. They find a way. Maybe baseball should take some of that insane revenue and re-invest. Football is “cheaper for families” because the infrastructure supports it. Are a glove and a jock strap more prohibitive than the pads and gloves required for football?
Also, shockingly on brand:
I was looking for “Dodger Russell” stuff and found this article from 2010, after Martin signed with the Yankees when the Dodgers non-tendered him.
Life is a funny thing. I wonder if Martin actually thought, “This team doesn’t believe in me,” and now, almost a decade later, he is returning there.
A Team Will Sign Harper or Machado or Both, at Some Point Soon or Maybe Not
Less than a month before pitchers and catchers report and two of the biggest stars in the game continue to just hang out in free agency.
Ross Atkins told TSN 1050 that the Blue Jays are looking to be “competitive as soon as possible” and then dropped this nugget after the interviewer asks about Bryce Harper.
Atkins responds with: “He would sit well in between Bichette and Vladdy”, and goes on to say that "Believe me, we spent time and energy, and your point makes sense. It’s something we’ve contemplated and continue to there is a lot of talent….”
SHUT UP, AND SIGN HIM.
Examples of the Interneting Art
I like this kid’s confidence.
You don’t say.
Morosi, because he likes to troll Blue Jays fans, will soon be hinting that Roy Halladay will be wearing a Phillies hat on his plaque.
Matt Buschmann Likes Data
Buschmann spent ten years in the minors and was known for constantly trying to find an edge to improve his pitching. He’s looking bring that into his coaching.