If Bobby Valentine’s goal is to play the role of villain in the eyes of Yankees’ fans, he’s already off to a pretty good start.
According to the Associated Press, earlier today the Red Sox were practicing relay throws and Valentine was asked about Derek Jeter’s famous “flip” to home plate in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against the A’s. His answer?
“We’ll never practice that,” Valentine said. “And I think (Jeter) was out of position and I think the ball gets (Giambi) out if he doesn’t touch it, personally.”
“That was amazing that he was there,” Valentine said. “Then it was more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe it.”
Of course, unless Valentine is some sort of omnipotent being, he has no way of knowing how the second hop would have affected the path of the ball to home plate. Jeter’s flip at least allowed the ball to get to Jorge Posada on the fly. And as Rob Neyer recalled late this afternoon, former Yankees’ manager Buck Showalter claims that Jeter did indeed practice the flip play.
But Valentine wasn’t done ribbing the Yankees. When asked to comment on what Jason Varitek meant to the Red Sox organization, he brought up the infamous benches-clearing incident between the longtime catcher and Alex Rodriguez on July 24, 2004.
“He is a man’s man,” Valentine said of Varitek. “He was a big hitter when needed. He was a leader of the pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”
If you’ll recall, Rodriguez was plunked by Bronson Arroyo and jawed with the pitcher on the way to first base. Varitek then jumped in between them and shoved his catcher’s mitt in Rodriguez’s face. A-Rod then attempted to put Varitek in a headlock, but the pair were eventually separated as part of a scrum after benches cleared. Whether Varitek actually “beat up” Rodriguez is up for debate, but I guess it works for a quick sound bite. And it’s certainly a moment which epitomized the intensity of the intense rivalry between the clubs at that particular time.
And so, I’ll give Valentine a four out of 10 for historical accuracy. But his trolling ability is pretty spot on.
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.