This is somewhat amusing. A college student who lives near the site of old Tiger Stadium in Detroit conducted a psychological experiment in which he put up a banner advertising a forthcoming auto dealership on the hallowed ground at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, inviting people to go to a website for more information and to submit job applications. Then he put up a comments box to see what people thought.
Benghauser left plenty of clues for the devoted Tigers fan that his sign is fake. The name of the dealership, Navin, comes from the old name of the concrete and steel stadium built in 1911. The name of the architect listed on the sign, George Bennet, comes from Bennett Park, the name of the first stadium built on the site in 1895 by Detroit Tigers owner George Vanderbeck. Vanderbeck’s name is also referenced on the sign.
He got some angry comments and it’s not at all clear what kind of academic paper that would create. But the good news is that he is using the experiment as a means of raising money to erect an Ernie Harwell statue on the old stadium grounds. The website he used for the phony car dealer actually goes to a Kickstarter page for that purpose.
The last real plan for the site — headquarters for the company that operates holiday parades in Detroit — is still pending. In the meantime you can still go and play there like I did this past summer.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.