Planes, trains, and automobiles … and Chone Figgins

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T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tells the amusing story of Chone Figgins being a last-minute addition to the All-Star game when Evan Longoria was scratched with an infected finger literally hours before the first pitch:

Chone Figgins was asleep at his Southern California home in Newport
Beach. He was peacefully oblivious to the fact that the American League
was frantically trying to reach him on Tuesday morning and get him to
Busch Stadium as soon as possible. … His plane was scheduled to land
at 5:20 CT, but it arrived about the same time as Air Force One.
President Obama was flying in for the game, and Figgins’ plane had to
wait.

Figgins joked that he thought about asking the president for a ride
to the game. “That would have been nice, but I don’t think that would
have worked,” said Figgins, who received a police escort instead. “We
still had to take an alternate route because of the president. But
having a police escort was cool. That was my All-Star parade.” He
walked into the clubhouse at 6:30 p.m., about 10 minutes before it was
time to go out for the player introductions and opening ceremonies.

Wake-up calls, cross-country flights, police escorts, arriving minutes before going on the field. And of course Figgins didn’t actually play in the game.
“It’s never disappointing,” Figgins said. “Obviously somebody thought I
was deserving of being an All-Star and worked hard to get me here.
That’s all that matters. I would have loved to have gotten in the game,
but for one night I was able to stand on that line and say I was an
All-Star.”

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.

Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

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This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.

The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.

Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.

Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.