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.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.