The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports today that a group that is against public funding for stadiums — they’re actually called “the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums” — is giving the city of St. Louis hell over the fact that it apparently isn’t keeping tabs on whether the Cardinals are keeping the promises they made to the city when Busch Stadium III was built.
Of specific interest: whether owners who sold shares in the team were, as they were required to do, pay the city back the money they received in tax abatements. There were apparently sales — team President Bill DeWitt sold some of his shares as did others — but no collection of the putatively required taxes. Why? It’s unclear. The city and the Cardinals say it wasn’t owed. The Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums says that’s not true, and the article at least suggests that the Coalition is right.
I’d normally be inclined to believe the city — since when does the government not try to get all the taxes it’s owed? — but in this case there is reason to doubt. Why? Because the city has apparently never asked the Cardinals to keep track of such things or any of the other promises they made such as the furnishing of free tickets for charitable purposes and the like. When the media finally started asking about free tickets and other things the Cardinals eventually reported — on the honor system, it seems, not pursuant to any standard auditing — that they were holding up their end of the bargain there. The taxes situation is, well, still a little gray.
I don’t know what’s going on here and I don’t have any reason to believe the Coalition people over the city or the team. The Coalition may be a bunch of loony tunes. To the extent we know about what the Cardinals have done pursuant to the stadium agreements, they have performed. But the fact that no one at city hall is keeping tabs on this and that no one knew anything until some angry citizens group and the newspaper started asking questions is troubling to me. Oversight and good bookkeeping always seems to fly out the window when governments get into the ballpark business. They’re fans too. They get a little star struck. No one wants to be seen as hounding a local institution like the Cardinals.
Which of course is yet another reason to keep governments out of the ballpark business.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.