Sorry, I just always wanted to say that.
But they did, and now we’re on to a Rangers-Giants World Series. It will be the fourth time in 90 years that two teams who have never won the World Series (at least in their current cities) have faced one another in the Fall Classic. 2002, 1992 and 1920 were the others (thanks Crank!). It will also guarantee our sixth straight year with a different champion in baseball and our ninth different champion in ten years. But, yeah, baseball has a parity problem.
As for the game: maybe the most exciting poorly-played game I’ve ever seen. Not terribly poorly, mind you. But there were so, so many runners left on base. So many missed opportunities. So many big name players who didn’t come up big. Mostly in the red pinstripes. Frequently Ryan Howard, it must be said. OK, maybe that’s not poor play, but the nervous edge I had about me all game was borne almost totally from the suspense of “when are one of these teams going to do something?!”
Finally it was Juan Uribe who broke through with an eighth inning home run. Not a rocket — indeed, a home run that would have been a fly out in many parks — but ’twas enough. ‘Twould serve.
At that point the excitement only ratcheted up even more. Tim Lincecum’s relief appearance in the eighth, in particular. I didn’t like the move on an objective level. He had thrown nearly 100 pitches 48 hours prior, and even if it was his day to throw between starts, there’s a difference between a bullpen side session and six outs from the World Series. Still, I desperately wanted the move to work because, hey, The Freak coming up big there would have been high drama. He didn’t, allowing two singles before giving way to Brian Wilson, but it was enough to pique our interest even more.
Wilson held. He bent in the ninth, allowing three men to reach — one being erased on a fielder’s choice — but locked down the pennant by retiring Ryan Howard looking. Which — with all due respect for the big man’s skills — was quite appropriate given how his postseason has gone.
The Giants win the pennant. They go home to a heroes’ welcome in San Francisco and a few days off before facing Texas in the World Series starting on Wednesday. Fantastic.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The Dodgers last owner, Frank McCourt, was a mainstay of the gossip pages. The new administration has been pretty drama free since taking over five years ago. That is, until now.
Multiple outlets, ranging from the New York Post to the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting on a scandal brewing at Guggenheim Partners, the multi-billion investment firm led by Mark Walter, its CEO. Walter is also the head of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the offshoot of the firm which owns the Dodgers. Walter is the Dodgers’ named owner — the “control person” — as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.
The scandal does not directly relate to the baseball team. Rather, it involves allegations that Walter bought a $13 million Pacific Palisades home for a younger female executive named Alexandra Court:
In the past 24 hours, the company has pushed back on multiple reports that CEO Mark Walter will step down; its chief investment officer has claimed on CNBC that there’s “no tumult” at the company; and Guggenheim has denied reports on a real-estate blog and in the New York Post that Walter bought a California mansion for a younger female executive at the company.
The denial regarding who bought the mansion is a bit too cute, though, as the company only denies that Walter bought it or owns it. In fact, the mansion is owned by a holding company that also bought Walter’s personal residence in Malibu. Billionaires don’t go to closings at title company offices, of course. They buy houses through companies and LLCs and trusts and stuff. As such, the claim that Walter didn’t buy the house may be technically and legally true but entirely misleading all the same. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walter and Court have a “personal relationship.” Walter, who is married, and the company deny this. Court is on an extended leave of absence.
Walter and Guggenheim are denying that Walter is going to step down as CEO. That remains to be seen. The question for our purposes is whether, if he steps down from Guggenheim Partners, he would necessarily have to step down from Guggenheim Baseball Management and thus relinquish control of the Dodgers. I suspect not — they’re distinct legal entities, and his departure from Partners would be unrelated to stuff having to do with the baseball team — but you never know. It’s not like he put up $2 billion of his personal dollars for the team. There are likely a lot of strings attached and contingencies involved to the arrangement.
Something to watch.