John Harper of the Daily News is, in my view, wrong when it comes to Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, but in approaching the matter, I think he frames the question just perfectly:
But in saying here that I won’t vote for Bonds when he becomes Hall-eligible next year, let me respond to the other side of the debate with a question: Should the Hall of Fame merely be a museum of sorts that reflects the history of baseball, for better or for worse?
Yes. Yes it should be. And I’m not sure what’s so hard about that.
But there is still something I like about Harper’s approach. He adds “I just think the Hall should stand for more than that.” And with that he injects an honesty that he is, in fact, trying to make a moral stand out of all of this. In some ways it’s a lot more respectable than those voters who say “well, the rules require that we take character into account” and leave it at that.
I like Harper’s approach because I think that if you vote with the Hall of Fame ballot’s famous character clause in mind, it should be incumbent upon you explain the ultimate end of the character clause. To say what the Hall is supposed to stand for. To say what morals and ethics are served by keeping guys like Bonds out. Most don’t, however, because I suspect they can’t come up with a coherent set of ethics that fits (a) their voting choice; (b) their personal moral code; and (c) the Hall of Fame as it currently exists.
So good for Harper. I disagree with him, but good for him for being up front about what he wants out of the Hall of Fame. Would that other voters who vote similarly explain that they are, in fact, making a moral stand. And explain what, exactly, that moral stand is. I don’t think they can. At least in any coherent fashion.
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.