Cal Ripken

Is Cal Ripken going to buy the Orioles one day?

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This is a couple of steps farther down the grapevine than even I’m used to relaying, but my friend Rex Snider at WNST in Baltimore passes along some interesting gossip:

According to celeb-O’s fan, Roy Firestone, he received some possible inside information that indicated Peter Angelos might be readying the Orioles for a sale to local investors. Better yet, the group is supposedly headed by Cal Ripken.

On Saturday night, Firestone attended an event with Orioles greats, such as Brooks and Frank Robinson. The event provided Firestone with his information on the possible upcoming sale of the ballclub.

Firestone has been quick to point out his “source” is confidential. However, he has also identified this same source as one of credibility in past dealings – and, one who has the connections to know such information.

It’s still gossip, and Rex is quick to note that this is (a) just stuff he’s hearing; and (b) isn’t about anything imminent.

But even if it doesn’t happen I find it interesting, if for no other reason than it makes me wonder more about faces of the franchise buying their old teams.  We have Nolan Ryan in Texas already and as time goes on — and as richer and richer former players decide to get active in the business word — we’ll probably see more of it.

I get it as a marketing idea — Rangers fans are understandably more excited about Nolan Ryan calling the shots than some leveraged buyout artist — but it runs counter to another couple of notions with which we’ve become acquainted in recent years.

One of which is ex-jocks not faring very well in the front office. Matt Millen and Isiah Thomas, anyone? Another is of how upset we tend to get when ownership meddles with baseball operations.  We get chafed when the Yankees are allegedly telling Brian Cashman  what to do.  Why are we going to be any happier about this when Cal Ripken or Nolan Ryan does it? Just because they played the game doesn’t mean they’re better at second guessing the people actually hired to make such calls. They’re just a bigger name doing the second-guessing.

Writing about Cal Ripken owning the Orioles makes for great copy and it may even sell some tickets if it ever comes to pass.  But I think, as a matter of substance, it’s overblown and possibly even counterproductive for the former hero to come back and “save” the team.

Study: West teams at a disadvantage due to jet lag

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JULY 14:  A Delta airlines plane is seen as it comes in for a landing at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on July 14, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Delta Air Lines Inc. reported that their second quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 4.1%, and also announced that they decided to reduce its United States to Britian capacity on its winter schedule because of foreign currency issues and the economic uncertainty from Brexit.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Every year, when the schedules are released, we often hear about the teams that have it worst. Almost always, those teams are West teams. According to MLB.com, teams in the West division of their respective leagues had the top eight most travel-heavy schedules in 2016. The full list:

Team League Division Miles
Mariners AL West 47,704
Angels AL West 44,945
Athletics AL West 42,119
Rangers AL West 41,128
Dodgers NL West 40,294
Giants NL West 39,341
Astros AL West 38,553
Padres NL West 37,363
Rays AL East 36,916
Red Sox AL East 36,896
D-Backs NL West 35,312
Yankees AL East 35,252
Marlins NL East 35,226
Rockies NL West 33,287
Blue Jays AL East 32,895
Orioles AL East 32,322
Braves NL East 29,236
Royals AL Central 29,077
Twins AL Central 28,948
Phillies NL East 28,351
Mets NL East 26,832
White Sox AL Central 26,538
Cardinals NL Central 26,451
Pirates NL Central 26,134
Brewers NL Central 25,620
Tigers AL Central 25,450
Indians AL Central 25,176
Reds NL Central 25,108
Nationals NL East 24,664
Cubs NL Central 24,271

The averages by division:

  • AL East: 34,856 miles
  • AL Central: 25,176
  • AL West: 42,890
  • NL East: 28,862
  • NL Central: 25,517
  • NL West: 37,119

The maps aren’t up for 2017 yet, but rest assured that West teams will once again have it worst. It’s easy to see why, taking a look at the map on MLB.com. If you draw a line to split Texas in half and go straight up through North Dakota, there are only eight teams to the left of that line, leaving the other 23 condensed on the right side. When West teams aren’t playing intra-division games, they are traveling. That’s often not the case for East and Central teams. The Phillies and Pirates, for example, don’t even have to leave the state to play each other.

As Gizmodo points out, a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found a link between jet lag and performance. Sleep scientist Ravi Allada of Northwestern University analyzed 4,919 games, finding that teams that traveled East performed worse than those that traveled West. Allada and his colleagues adjusted for home field advantage and park effects.

Specifically, teams that traveled from the West to the East lost more often than East teams traveling West. They gave up more runs and scored less runs. They hit for a lower batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They gave up more home runs, accounting for most of the decline in run prevention.

There was a peculiar finding. Allada found that jet lagged home teams performed worse than jet lagged visiting teams. He hypothesizes that “teams may be more cognizant of their schedules when traveling away, thus mitigating jet lag effects,” he told Gizmodo.

The Braves ask Cobb County for $14 million more

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The Braves’ new ballpark in Cobb County Georgia is the gift that keeps on taking.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have asked Cobb County for $14 million for roads, walkways and other pedestrian improvements around the stadium the team has already paid for but which it says the county is responsible. The county says it’s not responsible for them and that it has already paid nearly $70 million for transportation improvements around the ballpark, including on privately-owned property in the mixed-use development.

The reason this isn’t settled: at the time the deal between the county and the team was struck, there was a provision for the county to pay for $14 million for certain improvements. The Braves, this past September, told the county that it wants to be reimbursed for these projects under that provision and that the $70 million the county has already spent shouldn’t count. For reasons, I guess. It’s a bit complicated, but the AJC story lays it out pretty well. The upshot seems to be “why didn’t the Braves say they wanted the county to pay for these things long ago?”

The answer to that question, I suspect, is “because the Braves have been treated as entitled corporate welfare recipients since this deal was announced and they have learned that they can get away with almost anything.”