Final Countdown

HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Forget college basketball. This is the week that the baseball season begins. Everything else is beside the point.

  • Russell Branyan made the Dbacks’ roster. He hit the crap out of baseballs this spring. He’s done that fairly often in his career, actually, though never in quite the way people like, leading to him never really having a solid job. Just an oddball career for the guy. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
  • Bronson Arroyo has mono. No, not that mono. The sucky one.
  • Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia get the last two Yankees’ rotation spots. Wish I could have made bets with Yankees fans last November that, at some point in 2011, there would be a Freddy Garcia-Gustavo Molina battery pitching for New York.
  • Clint Barmes broke his hand. Oh, deer.
  • Mike Hampton retired. Now he will have the freedom to enroll his children in the best school district he can find anywhere in the country without the need for it to be near a Major League Baseball team.
  • Good news: Zack Greinke, who recently suffered broken ribs, is playing catch again. Bad news: He’s just checking the ball in, ready to drive it hard to the hoop against a bunch of big guys who are all elbows.
  • The Nyjer Morgan trade that was first rumored then denied actually happened.  I’m going to pretend that Milwaukee never actually considered the trade until Ken Rosenthal tweeted about it, then they thought “hey, that Rosenthal had a good idea” and only then did they decide to pursue it.
  • The Cubs released Carlos Silva. Milton Bradley is still playing for the Mariners. Ergo, the Cubs win. No, that’s not a mistake.
  • Terry Francona was less-than-pleased at Buck Showalter’s comments in a recent interview. This marks the first time anyone with the Red Sox paid attention to anything related to the Orioles since 1996.

Three days until Opening Day, my friends. Three days. This video pretty much sums it up. Well, this one does too.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

att park getty
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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.