Comment of the Day: Stop worrying and learn to love corporate sponsorship of baseball

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A pretty interesting conversation is developing in the thread about the Occupy St. Louis folks showing the World Series without commercials.  One of the earliest comments — from johnfrancis50 — makes me happy in my pragmatic place:

I’m not for or against the Occupy movement, but the statement “there isn’t a need for corporate sponsors to enjoy baseball” seems a bit misguided. Without corporate sponsorship, do any of the games get broadcast? Without corporate sponsorship dollars, can the Cardinals generate enough revenue to re-sign Albert Pujols? Is it unreasonable to think that revenues from corporate sponsorships contributed to the financing needed to overhaul the stadium downtown (I don’t want to name the stadium since that’s exactly what the corporations WANT you to do…)

They are right, you don’t need corporations to enjoy baseball, but if you want to watch a competitive team from the comfort of your home (or whatever street you are occupying), you ought to throw them a bone, no?

I support and understand a lot of what the Occupy Wall Street people are mad about. I mean, in a just world, the people who invented crazy financial schemes that put millions out of work and brought on global misery would be paying some sort of price for that rather than getting bonuses and bailouts.  We have a really messed up set of priorities as a nation right now, and they’ve been getting more and more messed up for the past 30 years or so.

But at the same time, there has to be a balance. Just as it makes no sense for those Tea Party people to rail against government without acknowledging that, hey, the government does a hell of a lot of useful stuff, it makes no sense to rail against corporations and capitalism without acknowledging that a lot of what we like in life is a product of them and that system and without many of the financial incentives that drive those plutocrats, we’d be living in a very different and a not necessarily better world.

Excesses by government and excesses by the private sector are both worthy targets of protest. I’m always wary, however, when someone wants something burst asunder.  I’m not typing this on my machine right now if Bill Gates and whoever financed his outfit didn’t have a profit motive. You’re not reading this if the people advertising on the page aren’t paying for the privilege of doing so.  Likewise, none of us make it to the ballpark if the government doesn’t play a role in building the roads or the trains or regulating those highways in the sky.

I mute my commercials when I’m watching the game. I lied on my census form and said my family was Samoan. That’s about as radical as I get when it comes to sticking it to The Man, so I’m no one’s idea of a bold activist. But I would hope that those folks who are bold activists would take a moment or two on occasion to inject some pragmatism into the conversation.  I know that’s not very exciting — and the signs and chants that pragmatists make are really not compelling — but it just seems to make a hell of a lot more sense to me.

Jered Weaver announces his retirement

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Jered Weaver, a 12-year big league veteran and a three-time All-Star, has announced his retirement.

Weaver was struggling mightily with the Padres this year, going 0-5 in nine starts and posting a 7.44 ERA,, a 2.6 BB/9 and 4.9 K/9 ratio over 42.1 innings. He hadn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2014 and his velocity had, quite famously, sunk into the low 80s and even high 70s at times in recent seasons. A spate of physical setbacks contributed to that, with a hip inflammation ailing him this season and nerve issues in his neck and back afflicting him for the past few years.

But even if his recent seasons have been less-than-memorable, it’s worth remembering that he was, for a time, one of baseball’s best pitchers. He posted a record of 131-69 with a 3.28 ERA in his first 9 seasons, leading the American League in strikeouts in 2010 and leading the circuit in wins in 2012 and 2014. He likewise led the league in WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings in 2012.

He finishes his career with a record of 150-98, an ERA of 3.63 (ERA+ of 111) and a K/BB ratio of 1,621/551 in 2,067.1 innings. He pitched in four American League Division Series and the 2009 ALCS, posting a 2.67 ERA in seven playoff games pitched.

Happy trails, Jered. A first-ballot induction into the Hall of He Was Really Dang Good, Even if We Forgot About It For A While is in your future.

The Jose Fernandez statue may be in jeopardy

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Last November it was reported that the Marlins planned to build a memorial for Jose Fernandez, likely including a statue. The effort was said to be a pet project of the Marlins owner, Jeff Loria, who was close with Fernandez.

Today the Miami Herald reports, however, that those plans are in limbo due to the sale of the team:

The planned statue to honor Jose Fernandez, which was departing owner Jeffrey Loria’s idea, is now very much in question because it will not be erected before Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter take over, and it will ultimately be the new owners’ call. That matter has not yet been discussed, with the sale agreed to only in the past few days.

There’s nothing in the report suggesting that they’re opposed to the statue — it’s possible this was placed in the Herald by people close to the new group in order to test the waters — but there always was the sense that the idea was something of a priority for Loria personally. One wonders how much momentum it will have once he’s gone.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that Fernandez was eventually found to have been under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and was behind the wheel of the boat at the time of the accident that claimed his life and the life of two others, making any memorial to him suspect in the eyes of some people.

Thankfully we don’t spend a lot of time and energy discussing the ethics of statues in this country, so I’m sure it’ll have no bearing on the matter.