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.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa part ways

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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that they are parting ways with Tony La Russa at the end of the month.

La Russa served as the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” from 2015-16. For the last year he was styled “Chief Baseball Analyst.” That’s a nice way to saying that he was pushed aside when the club fired his hand-picked general manager Dave Stewart and brought in Mike Hazen to run the club a year ago. La Russa was stripped of his powers, but was told he could hang around as an advisor. Most didn’t think he’d actually take the club up on that offer, but he did. By all accounts he was a pretty unobtrusive presence around the team this year, offering counsel and insight when asked but not making things awkward the way having the old boss around might do.

I suppose that can only last so long, however. The Dbacks had considerably more success without La Russa in charge in 2017 than they had with him in charge the previous couple of years. At some point you just part ways. That point is now.