The problem with the playoffs is that there’s only, like, one or two games a night and after you talk about them you sort of have to wait around all day for more games.
If you’re like me, you kill that time by reading a bunch of articles in which people who never ever write or even really think much about baseball try to put it into some sort of larger context. Is it still the national pastime? Is it still the American game? Will it still take our people out-of- doors, fill them with oxygen and give them a larger physical stoicism? That sort of thing.
Most of them these days come down on the side of baseball being only slightly more relevant to the American scene than phonograph needles and liberty cabbage because football is rich, modern and savage and all of the the things Americans are in the early 21st century (at least the 1% who control everything anyway). That’s OK. We see what we want to see in these things, and if a lot of people draw such conclusions there’s probably some core truth to it.
Still, I’m a total baseball homer, so I like to see the articles that find some argument for the continued relevance or even the supremacy of baseball. Even if they contain weird comparisons and analogies that distract you from reading the rest of the piece because they’re just so jarring:
Football is more popular and has more money; basketball attracts more young sports fans … Yet baseball’s magic, on view in the playoffs, excites and rejuvenates an angry and dispirited American citizenry as almost nothing else — even killing Osama bin Laden — can.
Got that? Baseball: more uplifting and rejuvenating than a black ops mission designed to terminate an enemy of the state with extreme prejudice.
Ah, who cares? I’ll take it. Score one for baseball!
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.