No, not the one in Cooperstown, because the people that run and vote for it are too addle-minded to do such manifestly smart things. It’s the Canadian one doing the good work:
Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. Alomar missed out on induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., by eight votes earlier this month. He was selected for the Canadian version on Thursday. The 12-time All-Star will be enshrined in St. Marys, Ontario, along with longtime reliever Paul Quantrill, former Minnesota Twins owner Calvin Griffith and statistical guru Allan Roth.
The thousand injuries of the National Baseball Hall of Fame I have borne the best I could, but now that the one north of the border is wise enough to induct (a) one of the best second basemen of all time; and (b) the first full-time stat guy to ever be employed by a team, I’m just going to give up on Cooperstown and throw my support behind the one in St. Mary’s, Ontario.
And while I’m happy to see Alomar honored, it’s Roth’s induction that really makes me happy. For those who have never heard of him, Roth was hired by Branch Rickey in 1947 to keep stats for the Dodgers’ top farm team, the Montreal Royals, and later went on to Brooklyn and Los Angeles, retiring in the mid 60s. While surely some players and coaches identified and appreciated the importance of OBP and platoon advantages before him, Roth championed them in the Dodgers front office, helping turn a simple observation into an important part of a winning organizational philosophy.
Why couldn’t Alomar make it into Cooperstown in his first year? What are the odds that we’ll ever see Bill James in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Why shouldn’t I start stumping for Paul Quantrill? The answers to these questions will probably shape how I feel about the Hall of Fame for some time.
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.
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.