Fenway is a shrine; Tiger Stadium, a pile of rubble

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On the day after the final act in the Tiger Stadium drama came to pass, it’s helpful to remember that it didn’t have to be this way:

It’s
the smallest ballpark in the majors, many seats are obstructed behind
poles, it’s crammed into a small city block, and there is no room
around the concession stands. And yet, the stadium that is home to the
Boston Red Sox, has become a landmark beloved by fans and is thriving
in the struggling economy . . .

. . . Built in 1912,
Fenway is three years shy of its 100th birthday. Lacking the amenities
featured in many new stadiums, the park relies on old-fashioned
nostalgia to help sell tickets and incite excitement among fans. “They
have managed to tell people that while all the rest of the modern world
is basking in this comfort and luxury, you don’t come to a ballgame to
be comfortable. You come to a ballgame to see the ballgame,” said Ryan.

One of the things I’ll always wonder is what would have
happened if Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch had sunk some money into a
thoughtful renovation of Tiger Stadium instead of trying to keep up
with the Joneses and build a shiny new park.

I’ll grant that the
Detroit economy was and will remain terrible, and I’ll also grant that
it’s probably harder to sell nostalgia to someone who visits Detroit to
gamble than to someone who comes back to Boston to see the old college
campus, but they could have at least tried.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.