Arizona taxpayers to give the Cubs a new spring training facility

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In an election year that allegedly stood for the proposition that government needs to stop its careless, spendthrift ways, the citizens of Mesa, Arizona decided to give the Chicago Cubs a total blank check for the construction of a new spring training facility:

On Tuesday, Mesa voters overwhelmingly approved of the City of Mesa’s $99 million investment in a new spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs. The referendum passed with a “yes” vote of more than 63 percent.

$99 million is just the estimate of what the facility — paid for by the city, not the Cubs — will cost to build. It could be more. Just last February they thought it would be $84 million.  The actual referendum language said the amount would be “more than $1.5 million.” There is no binding limit to the amount taxpayers will have to fund.

The facility will certainly help the Cubs.  Yes, because that’s where their pitchers can do fielding practice and stuff, but also because it will serve as an anchor for a big shopping complex the Cubs’ owners plan to build called Wrigleyville West that would “attempt to recreate the atmosphere surrounding Clark and Addison with shops, bars and restaurants.”  Which sounds absolutely horrifying in its synthetic cynicism.

In other news, Forbes ranks the Cubs as the fifth most valuable franchise in baseball, putting their net worth at nearly three quarters of a billion dollars and estimates their revenue to be in the ballpark of $250 million a year. If there was a non-baseball playing business with that financial profile, and it asked the taxpayers to give them a hundred million dollars to construct an office building, its leaders would likely be checked into an insane asylum.

Ah, the things we do for baseball.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.