New York Yankees Workout Session

A-Rod is supposed to be embarrassed about being rich and having famous movie star girlfriends?

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Alex Rodriguez is not great at P.R. There’s no disputing that. He’s had a couple of flubs. He’s been involved in a few controversies.  He has occasionally shot himself in the foot.

But does he really deserve the treatment he gets from Sports Illustrated today?  The august S.I. goes with a slide show, outlining what are supposed to be A-Rod’s “most embarrassing moments.”  A great many of the “incidents” however, don’t really qualify. Among them:

  • Being demoted to eighth in the batting order in the 2006 ALDS.  All players slump. But really: isn’t putting the mid-decade version of A-Rod eighth in the order more embarrassing for Joe Torre than A-Rod? It was a classic panic move by a guy who is lauded for being cool. How is that A-Rod’s problem?
  • The “Ha!” or “I got it!” thing in Toronto when A-Rod yelled something to Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark to make him give up on a pop fly.  Depending on whose story you believe it may not be the best sportsmanship, but A-Rod has his share of “all is fair in love and war” defenders. Many of the people mad at him for it were unwritten rules fanatics, and you know how I feel about the so-called unwritten rules. Not his finest hour, but I bet that stuff happens more often than we think.
  • The opt-out:  announcing A-Rod’s opt-out during the 2007 World Series was bad form. But are we sure that was A-Rod’s doing and not Scott Boras’?  A-Rod famously negotiated his contract a few months later without Boras’ help. And he has since fired the guy. Just sayin!
  • Dating Madonna:  Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who was held up as a universal sex symbol for most of his adolescence.
  • Dating Kate Hudson: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who, for a good while there, was considered America’s sweetheart.
  • Dating Cameron Diaz: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in one of Hollywood’s leading actresses.
  • Being trashed in Joe Torre’s book:  Again, how does Torre’s failure to keep in the clubhouse that which should have stayed in the clubhouse A-Rod’s fault?  The facts aren’t flattering, no, but they pale compared to Torre’s transgression in my mind.
  • The centaur paining:  Maybe I’m wrong here, but I thought that was debunked. Anyone?
  • The Dallas Braden thing:  Maybe I missed the meeting when this was all decided, but last I checked everyone thought Braden was being the jackwagon here.

I’ll give S.I. the steroids stuff (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), the mirror-kiss photo in details (whoa) and the front-page-of-the-tabloid-with-the-stripper thing (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), but it seems that most of the stuff on their list is either much ado about nothing or really someone else’s problem.

And really, there aren’t many things on that list that are as embarrassing as a respected publication like Sports Illustrated going all Bleacher Report with a theres-no-there-there photo slide show in an effort to maximize traffic by virtue of that which it claims is embarrassing.

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.