Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox

Adam Dunn: “people would be batting .400” if batting averages weren’t reported

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MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince reported on the Blue Jays’ use of a “performance coach” who professes that “batting average is Satan”. Somehow, that isn’t the most interesting quote in the article. In talking about how fans and players have moved further and further away from their reliance on batting average, Adam Dunn’s name inevitably came up. The White Sox slugger is hitting a cool .108 on the season and has hit a combined .184 over 2011-12, but contends that some of that is due to the pressure placed upon him when his batting average is reported in the media and flashed on scoreboards.

“I’m telling you,” said Adam Dunn, whose batting average has dropped in recent seasons, “if people didn’t post people’s batting averages on the scoreboard or in the media, people would be batting .400. I’m serious. I believe that. You look at Spring Training, and I know it’s a small sample, but you’ve got guys hitting .500 in 50-60 at-bats. They know they’re hitting good, but they don’t know what they’re hitting.”

Dunn has never even hit .270 in his career, let alone .400, but I think even he would agree that his batting average wouldn’t come close to .400 if the stat became invisible. The more spurious thought is that someone like Tony Gwynn, a career .338 hitter who flirted with .400 in 1994, was one national media habit away from history.

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.