UPDATE: The Dodgers and Andre Ethier reach a five-year, $85 million deal with an option for a sixth year

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UPDATE: Bob Nightengale confirms that the deal is done. The five-year, $85 million figure was accurate. Add to it a $17.5 million vesting option for a sixth year or a $2.5 million buyout.  The option vests if he hits a specific number of plate appearances from 2016-17.

1:10 A.M.: Andre Ethier’s big start has been parlayed into a big contract: five years and $85 million big.

Ethier was long rumored to be on the way out of Los Angeles as a free agent at season’s end, if not before, but obviously the ownership change led to a big turnaround there. Now the 30-year-old Ethier might be in a position to finish his career in Los Angeles. His deal includes a vesting option that would take him through 2018, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Apart from last year’s injury-plagued season, Ethier has been a consistent hitter on a year-to-year basis, finishing with OPSs between .802 and .885. He’s at .871 this year with his .292/.353/.518 line. He’s hit 10 homers and driven in 52 runs in 60 games.

Still, one wonders if this has the potential to turn into a Jason Bay-like deal for the Dodgers. Ethier’s defense in right field is average at best, and considering that he turns 31 next season, there’s a good chance he’s already had his best seasons. The Dodgers will be paying an All-Star’s salary to guy who projects as little more than an average regular two or three years down the line.

That said, the Dodgers are flush with cash, and the Ethier deal isn’t at all likely to stop them from making a big addition or two this winter. Also, that they’ve handed out massive deals to Matt Kemp and Ethier should only make them more attractive to potential free agents. For on-field production, the Dodgers probably won’t end up getting much bang for their buck here. Still, it’s not something that figures to hamstring the franchise.

Alabama man arrested for stealing a Braves golf cart from SunTrust Park

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Last Tuesday night, the Braves hosted the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park. They lost 6-3. An Alabama man named Marcus Stephens almost came away a winner, however. At least if stealing a $4,500 golf cart that belongs to the Braves makes you a winner, which in some circles I suppose it would.

Stephens lost, however, when he crashed the cart into a metal pole, attempted to flee on foot and was apprehended by Cobb County Sheriff’s deputies. This all went down at 1:40AM Wednesday morning. The report doesn’t mention anything about alcohol being involved but I’ve read enough stories like this to make educated guesses about such things.

That being said, Stephens seems relatively composed in his mugshot:

I mean, yeah, the eyes look a bit red and puffy and the overall vibe he gives off is “I came to the game as part of the Sigma Nu reunion (Auburn University class of ’06, GO TIGERS!),” but I expected much worse after reading the headline.

 

Anyway, dude is out on bail. Somewhere, someone is really super proud of him, I’m sure.

Report: The Yankee Stadium charity is a secretive, self-dealing boondoggle

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The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity the Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.

The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:

  • Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
  • Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
  • There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.

Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.

If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do suggests it is — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.