Justine Siegal has made a habit out of breaking down barriers. She became the first woman to coach a professional baseball team when she was hired as the first base coach of the independent league Brockton Rox in 2009. She has also spent the past four years as the assistant baseball coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts. On Monday, she added another impressive accomplishment to the list.
According to the Associated Press, Siegal became the first woman to pitch batting practice to a major league team when she threw for the Indians earlier today.
Siegal, a Cleveland native who grew up rooting for the Tribe, was given the opportunity to throw after approaching general manager Chris Antonetti during December’s winter meetings. On Monday, the 36-year-old Siegal got to live out every fan’s dream, throwing BP to a few players in major league camp, including catcher Paul Phillips, Lou Marson and Juan Apodaca.
“I wanted to be Orel Hershiser,” Siegal said of the starting pitcher who played for Cleveland in the mid-1990s. “Following the Indians is in my blood.”
“My heart was beating really fast,” Siegal said. “I’ve been thinking about this for the last month.”
Siegal wore a patch honoring Christina Taylor Green, who was killed in last month’s shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Green was the only girl on her local Little League baseball team. Awesome stuff.
And just in case you were ready to say that the Indians don’t count as a major league team, you should know that Siegal is scheduled to throw batting practice for the Athletics on Wednesday, as well.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.