Are the Astros hypocrites for signing Brett Myers?

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The Astros blog Crawfish boxes raises an interesting question regarding the Astros’ signing of Brett Myers, who as most of you know, has a domestic violence history:

Considering the Astros once designated a player for assignment before
the story of his domestic violence charges even broke, this seems very
hypocritical . . . you can’t have it both ways. The Astros made the decision to deal with
Julio Lugo’s situation by immediately cutting ties with him. A valuable
player, Lugo was let go as the organization made a decision based on
off-the-field behavior. They drew a line at what’s acceptable behavior.
If that’s how they want to run things, I’m fine with it , but you lose
any moral high ground when you sign another guy with an alleged
incident in his past.

In the case of Lugo and Myers I can see a distinction in that Lugo’s thing was happening in real time while Myers’ was some time ago and maybe, just maybe, he’s made some kind of showing of rehabilitation or whatever that Lugo had not yet had a chance to do. And it’s probably worth noting that, though no one ever disputed what happened with Myers and his wife, the charges were dropped.  That aside, I have to be honest and say that I have no idea what I’d do about guys with domestic violence issues if
I ran a baseball team.

On the one hand it’s really easy to say “screw
him, I don’t want him within 100 yards of my clubhouse.”  But if you’re not merely sitting back and casting judgment — say, if you’re running a major league baseball team — you have to make some tough moral judgments about people. About their accusers, if the matter hasn’t been fully resolved by the justice system yet. Hell, about he justice system itself.  Then you have to weigh that against the fact that your mission as a general manager is to win baseball games first and foremost, and that the jobs of many others depend on you carrying out that mission. Then you have to re-weigh that against the fact that, as a professional sports team, you do have some sort of public mandate however vague it may be. People notice what you do, and that matters. It’s the sort of mission for which a baseball front office isn’t really designed, so I’m not at all surprised that there has yet to be a definitive rule book written about this yet.

Personally I wouldn’t invite Brett Myers or Julio Lugo to my house for dinner. Hell, I’m a longtime Braves fan and the most I can muster for Bobby Cox — a guy who was charged with punching his wife the year the Braves won the World Series — is a cold admiration of his abilities while harboring more or less ill feelings for him personally.

But it’s one thing to cast judgment from afar and another thing altogether to run a ballclub. If I had to make a choice right now I’d probably cut Lugo, say no to Myers and steer clear of anyone else with that kind of history.  But I think the issue is a bit too complicated in practice for the Astros to be accused of hypocrisy on this point.

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.