Marlins ballpark

Six lies about the Marlins’ new ballpark

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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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.