Honus Wagner card

Honus Wagner card sells for $2.1 million at auction

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Big news in the baseball card world.

Dan Good of the New York Post reports that the famous 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card was sold at an auction this morning for $2.1 million. The buyer’s identity is unknown. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, this is a new record price for a card in a public sale, topping the $1.6 million price paid for the same card back in 2008.

“My overall goal on the T206 Wagner from the start was to set a record for a trading card auction,” said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, which auctioned the card. “My auction house set a new record by close to $500,000.”

Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick paid $2.8 million in 2008 for a T206 Wagner — the same card once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky —  but that was in a private sale.

Widely regarded as the hobby’s most coveted card, it’s believed there were only several dozen T206 Wagners in existence. The series was distributed in cigarette packs, but the Wagner cards were pulled for an unknown reason. Some say Wagner didn’t want to encourage children to smoke, but others believe that he wasn’t happy about not being paid by the card manufacturer.

Some of the other items up for bid included a signed Wagner baseball, a bat used by Derek Jeter in the 2001 World Series and a duplicate of Alex Rodriguez’s 2009 World Series ring which was put up for auction by his cousin, Yuri Sucart.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

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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.