Marlins ballpark

Six lies about the Marlins’ new ballpark

17 Comments

We’re going to be hearing a lot of glowing reviews of the Marlins’ new ballpark as the finishing touches are put on it over the course of the next 9-10 months or so.  And for good reason. From what we’ve been able to see of it in artists’ renderings and in the photos of it in its partially-completed state, it looks beautiful.  It’s replacing an awful place for baseball. And the hype will definitely increase if the Marlins continue to play great baseball as they have thus far this year.

But as that hype grows louder and the ballpark takes final shape, it’s worth noting all of the b.s. that went into its planning, financing and construction.  Helping us do that is this feature that appeared in the Miami New Times last week that pulls absolutely no punches:

Like a festering, silver-plated pustule, a grotesquely huge can opener, or just an obscene ode to wasted cash, the new Florida Marlins stadium is rising above Miami’s skyline. Whether you’re driving down a tree-shaded block in Little Havana or cruising the Dolphin Expressway to South Beach, there it is: a $515 million money sucker that is probably the worst deal for taxpayers of any stadium in America.

Bam!

I don’t know if I’m in any position to judge whether or not the ballpark is truly the worst for taxpayers, but taxpayers aren’t exactly happy with how the deal went down.  One of the primary architects of the financing plan for the joint was former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was recently recalled by voters in one of the most lopsided countywide electoral margins in history.  According to Old Gator — who, despite what you think of his take on cheesesteak, knows the goings-on down in his Macondo — a huge proportion of those voters polled stated that the stadium deal was one of the biggest reasons that they voted to dump him.

As for the specifics of the Miami New Times article, longtime friend of HBT Jorge Costales, who was quoted in the article, makes several clarifications over at his blog.  For what it’s worth, Jorge is pro-stadium and was actually pro-taxpayer funding for the stadium as far as it went.  But he has been a sharp critic of Jeff Loria and the Marlins’ claims of poverty that helped get the deal done.

And I think that’s where I come down.  Personally, I am against taxpayer funding for ballparks.  I can understand, however, why some folks like Jorge take a different side of this depending on the specifics of the funding, the need for the stadium, the location and other factors.  All politics is local, and there’s a direct correlation between one’s knowledge of a given area and one’s righteousness in taking a strong stance on the matter. When I speak about ballpark funding it’s usually a philosophical matter, and that only gets you so far.

But no matter the merits of any specific plan, the case for a ballpark has to be made honestly. And it seems fairly clear to me that the case for the Marlins’ new palace was not made honestly. That’s something that should be remembered when the place opens up next spring.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
8 Comments

Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
21 Comments

ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: