Brewers to erect a statue of Bud Selig. As they should.

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Selig Brewers.jpgFrom the Brewers’ official PR Twitter account:


Brewers announce
it will honor MLB Commissioner & former owner Bud Selig with statue
at Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza, unveil set for 8/24.

OK, first off, let’s put an end to the snark-fest that has already started.  You and I can could mock this if it was a statue dedicated to Bud Selig the Commissioner of Baseball. We could say things like this should be the pose in which the statue should be cast. We can say that no Commissioner who presided over the cancellation of a World Series should be honored. But that would be wrong. Why? Because Bud Selig was an owner first, this statue is to honor him as an owner and in that capacity he probably deserves it.

Selig was a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves, who for a while there were beloved in Milwaukee.  When the majority owners started casting about to find a place to move the team, Selig worked in vain to keep them in town.  As soon as that effort failed, he formed a group to try and get Milwaukee another team. He managed to get the Pilots. And before you accuse Selig of being a team-stealer, remember that (a) the Pilots were going bankrupt there anyway; and (b) if the Pilots didn’t cease to be, “Ball Four” would be way less fun.

The Brewers were successful when he was an active owner. They played in a World Series. The city fell in love with them, and though that love has ebbed and flowed depending on the record, I’d wager that fan loyalty is greater in Milwaukee than it is in the majority of major league cities. This is a gut feeling but it’s backed up by anecdotal evidence.  For example, Jonah Keri just tweeted something interesting:

Went to Brewers game in 90s, Bud emerged from box during 7th inning stretch. EVERYONE started chanting BUD! BUD! Seriously.

Bud may be a cold fish. Bud may not be as great a commissioner as his supporters in the game and the media make him out to be.  But he’s Milwaukee’s cold fish commissioner, and there are people there who love the guy. And even if they don’t, they love the team he brought them and helped build into a winner.

Is that not statue-worthy? I kind of think it is.

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.