Jeffrey Loria, Julie Loria

Loria-protesting Marlins fans kicked out of Marlins Park

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Some fans showed up to last night’s Marlins-Braves game wearing anti-Jeff Loria t-shirts and carrying anti-Jeff Loria signs. Neither the signs nor the t-shirts said anything profane or offensive on them.  The fans were stopped by some reporters and, for five minutes or so, gave interviews.  A few minutes later — before they even got to their seats, they claim — they were kicked out of the park by the police.

The police said that “they want you to leave,” with the “they” appearing to be the Marlins.  The Marlins, however, are saying that (a) the fans were creating a disturbance; and (b) were kicked out because they didn’t comply with police requests to show I.D.  Here’s team president David Samson’s comment to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:

“We got information from the police that they’d run into a couple of fans who were walking around holding signs that were fine. That was not the issue. They were drawing some attention to themselves. Making some noise later in the game, which is not uncommon,’’ Samson said.

“As per standard operating procedure, the police go up, try to tell them to calm down and they did not. Then the police said, ‘Show me ID’ and they did not. And that was it. You have to show ID when asked. So they were ejected.”

If they didn’t make it to their seats, as the ejected fans claim, it’s hard to see how they were acting poorly “later in the game.” And if it’s really a police matter, why did the cops tell the fans that the team wanted them gone?

Maybe this is some he-said, she-said, and the fans truly were being disruptive. But it sure as hell sounds to me that the Marlins simply didn’t like the fact that someone was criticizing them in their own (tax payer-funded) house.

(thanks to Bill Lawrence for the heads up)

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

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The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.