Dodgers are paying rent on property they own

5 Comments

We know everyone is crabby over in Dodgerland. Reading this story from the Los Angeles Times isn’t going to make anyone happier.

The Dodgers have talked about creative ways their Chavez Ravine property could generate revenue for ownership. One such deal, a head-scratcher, is already in place: The team has been charging itself rent — $14 million this year — on Dodger Stadium property it owns.

Yes that’s right. The Dodgers are paying themselves rent on property they own. And if you think $14 million is a lot for rent – even if you actually had a landlord to pay it to – you’d be right. According to the Times, the White Sox paid $1.4 million in rent this season, and the Brewers and Mariners each paid $900,000. The Red Sox, who own Fenway Park, do not pay any rent at all. Imagine that.

Court records show that the Dodgers have amassed a $24 million surplus via this method, and have not touched it even while cutting their player payroll from $118.5 million in 2008 to $102 million this season.

Jamie McCourt’s lawyers are saying that this allows Frank McCourt to “work around restrictions on receiving cash directly from team coffers.” Frank McCourt’s lawyer says “Tidbits reported in the media from divorce court filings do not tell a full story. And while members of the news media continue to find interest in the divorce proceedings, fans care about winning and having a great experience at the ballpark. That’s where their focus is. That’s where our focus is.”

Nice attempt at distraction.

There is some talk about the team using that money to pay off debt – which makes some sense – and to pay construction managers, which I suppose would make sense if the Dodgers were actually doing any construction work.

Needless to say, the Dodgers are a mess in the front office. From paying $400,000 to an executive who runs a $1.6 million charity, to spending lavishly on personal expenses while cutting spending on the draft and international-player signings, the McCourts have made a fine mess of things.

At least Dodgers fans can find some consolation in the divorce bringing all of this to light. Now they just have to pray that the McCourt split leads to a sale of the team. Otherwise … well let’s try not to think about that.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
19 Comments

It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.