I’ve been kind of out of it today thanks to spending a good chunk of it at an Ohio Bar Association seminar on media law. My role: defending the entire blogosphere against accusations that we’re ruining the newspaper industry. It would have been less fun if I knew in advance that I would be doing that, so I’m glad no one told me. But unaware as I was, you’ll be happy to know, my dear readers, that I did not give in. I fully admitted to the fact that we’re ruining the newspaper industry and told them that maybe the newspaper industry should figure out what to do about that, because it’s kinda not my problem. They weren’t quite sure where to go with that. Before they could figure it out, I split. I declared victory in my car while driving home and listening to the Pogues. All in all a good day.
The point of all of this is that I really didn’t read much news today (In those newspapers! Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t ruin them after all!) As such, I missed the little dustup about Cliff Lee’s cap. Seems that Michael Kay of YES is accusing Lee of cheating by putting resin on his cap, mixing it with sweat and doctoring the ball with it. I have three thoughts about this:
1) Joe Maddon — who’s really savvy — never complained about this during the ALDS, nor have any of Lee’s opponents that I’m aware of. I don’t know if Lee was doing anything wrong, but I’m a bit skeptical of this kind of thing when it first comes up on talk radio. Let’s wait and see if Joe Girardi complains — which he might, because hey, maybe Lee is messing around a bit here — but let’s wait for someone who isn’t, you know, Michael Kay or a WFAN caller to say something about it before we go too nuts;
2) Maybe this is not the most important thing in the world — a nine figure contract tends to trump wagging tongues — but given how badly everyone in New York wants Cliff Lee to sign with the Yankees, is it the smartest thing for Kay (a Yankee employee) and all the talk radio people to be leveling these kinds of accusations? If Lee has his choice of destinations, might he not prefer to go to a team whose broadcasters and fans didn’t spend October calling him a big fat cheater?; finally
3) Assuming that consideration doesn’t enter into it — which it probably wouldn’t — in the event Lee lands in New York, can we expect Kay to ever say a single thing about Lee’s cap and resin and all of that?
I’d bet a year’s salary that he doesn’t make a peep.
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.