Nats Park: an increasingly bad deal for D.C. taxpayers

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I’ve long been opposed to the use of public monies to finance Major
League ballparks. For one thing, these teams are owned by billionaires,
almost all of the revenues a park brings goes right back to the team,
not the city, and I don’t think local government should be in the
business of giving such handouts to billionaires. For another thing, I
don’t know too many cities who have been so flush with cash in the past
several decades that they couldn’t have used the hundreds of millions
they’re spending on the ballpark for something more important. Finally,
even if you’re all for a city giving millions it doesn’t have to
billionaires, the details of these ballpark deals are always shady, and
the true cost to the taxpayers only becomes evident years after all of
the initial hoopla and rosy projections.

In light of all of that, this news regarding Nationals Park in Washington doesn’t surprise me in the least:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is planning to divert millions of dollars from
the ballpark tax to reduce the city’s deficit. The Ballpark Revenue
Fund is intended to pay down the debt on Nationals Park. But Fenty’s
revised 2010 budget shifts $50 million from it to the general fund over
the next four years.

And it’s not as if the ballpark debt is going to go away. It’s now
simply going to cost a strapped city even more to service, thereby
raising the ultimate price of the Lerner family’s new toy box/cash
machine even higher than was projected when the place was built.

I love baseball. For the most part I love the new ballparks. There
is no escaping the fact, however, that these ballparks represent
horrible, horrible deals for tax payers.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.