Frank McCourt says he’s gonna make payroll

6 Comments

All of the whispers have had Frank McCourt not making payroll at the end of the month. And of course, if that happens, he probably loses the Dodgers.  It’s kind of like the plot of the Blues Brothers but, you know, totally not fun.

But apparently McCourt played a big house show last night, collected the money and drove 106 miles to Chicago, because according to Bill Shaikin in the L.A. Times, McCourt has got the money and will meet payroll.

I’m giving serious consideration about putting together a betting pool as to how he came up with the $9.8 million. A bank job?  Did his number come in?  Did he mortgage Vin Scully? There’s not a ton to work with there.

Anyway, this is good news for McCourt, but probably only good news of the short term variety. Because, you know, he has to meet payroll again in June.  And as Shaikin notes, it will be way harder because the Dodgers owe Manny Ramirez a big deferred compensation payment on top of the usual monthly bogey.

Of course it’s possible that McCourt could just give Manny a suitcase full of green Post-it-Notes with dollar signs drawn on them in black Sharpie marker. It would probably take a couple of months before Manny got suspicious, what with him being a big picture guy and everything. And only then because the soda machine won’t accept one of the Post-its in the bill feeder.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

Getty Images
8 Comments

Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.